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Proteomics. 2011 Apr;11(7):1238-53. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201000591. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Tandem application of cationic colloidal silica and Triton X-114 for plasma membrane protein isolation and purification: towards developing an MDCK protein database.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Plasma membrane (PM) proteins are attractive therapeutic targets because of their accessibility to drugs. Although genes encoding PM proteins represent 20-30% of eukaryotic genomes, a detailed characterisation of their encoded proteins is underrepresented, due, to their low copy number and the inherent difficulties in their isolation and purification as a consequence of their high hydrophobicity. We describe here a strategy that combines two orthogonal methods to isolate and purify PM proteins from Madin Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. In this two-step method, we first used cationic colloidal silica (CCS) to isolate adherent (Ad) and non-adherent (nAd) PM fractions, and then subjected each fraction to Triton X-114 (TX-114) phase partitioning to further enrich for hydrophobic proteins. While CCS alone identified 255/757 (34%) membrane proteins, CCS/TX-114 in combination yielded 453/745 (61%). Strikingly, of those proteins unique to CCS/TX-114, 277/393 (70%) had membrane annotation. Further characterisation of the CCS/TX-114 data set using Uniprot and transmembrane hidden Markov model revealed that 306/745 (41%) contained one or more transmembrane domains (TMDs), including proteins with 25 and 17 TMDs. Of the remaining proteins in the data set, 69/439 (16%) are known to contain lipid modifications. Of all membrane proteins identified, 93 had PM origin, including proteins that mediate cell adhesion, modulate transmembrane ion transport, and cell-cell communication. These studies reveal that the application of CCS to first isolate Ad and nAd PM fractions, followed by their detergent-phase TX-114 partitioning, to be a powerful method to isolate low-abundance PM proteins, and a useful adjunct for in-depth cell surface proteome analyses.

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