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J Proteome Res. 2013 Feb 1;12(2):771-6. doi: 10.1021/pr301036k. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Chicken corneocyte cross-linked proteome.

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Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Shotgun proteomic analysis was performed of epidermal scale, feather, beak and claw from the domestic chicken. To this end, the samples were separated first into solubilized and particulate fractions, the latter enriched in isopeptide cross-linking, by exhaustive extraction in sodium dodecyl sulfate under reducing conditions. Among the 205 proteins identified were 17 keratins (types α and β), 51 involved in protein synthesis, 8 junctional, 8 histone, 5 heat shock, and 5 14-3-3 proteins. Considerable overlap among the beak, claw, feather, and scale samples was observed in protein profiles, but those from beak and claw were the most similar. Scale and feather profiles were the most distinctive, each exhibiting specific proteins. Less than 20% of the proteins were found only in the detergent-solubilized fraction, while 34-57% were found only in the particulate fraction, depending on the source, and the rest in both fractions. The results provide the first comprehensive analysis of the content of these cornified structures, reveal the efficient use of available proteins in conferring mechanical and chemical stability to them, and emphasize the importance of isopeptide cross-linking in avian epithelial cornification.

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