Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ever wondered how to do cartilage proteomics?!? Here you go!

According to a Reddit forum I somehow found myself on, we don't know much about human cartilage...unsurprisingly it turns out that some guy on Reddit didn't know much about cartilage, while we -as a species- seem to know an awful lot about it.

It was already too late, though, and I was on Google Scholar looking for some cutting edge cartilage stuff to read and -- BOOM!

A complete protocol for completely studying cartilage that is, according to the authors, way better than the previous protocols I didn't know about.

They have a decent argument, too! They argue that single stage extraction/digestion techniques don't get the whole picture of the cartilage proteome because each method ends up leaving something behind. The multi-step methodology they describe here allows them to get a more complete picture of what is happening -- at the expense of a lot more sample prep time. figure out how to rehab a sore knee faster without some weird pseudoscience quackery... thank you, but I don't need your magic copper knee brace OR your turmeric crystal that I put under my toenail (I made one of those up).

EDITs (after continuing to look at this paper a little more):

This isn't just a methods paper, btw, this study is also super fascinating. It goes beyond where you think it would. For one, they are able to use the sectioning method to track the abundance of the proteins they detect -- at different physical layers of the collagen that they're looking at. It is silly to think of tissues as homogeneous throughout and -- that is, by far, the easiest way of doing it. This team goes WAY beyond that -- and you see why they should!

That's not all. There are collagen samples taken from different places -- hips and knees -- as well as collagen from patients with different disease states. Guess what? There are proteins that are produced at much higher levels in cartilage from different joints!  Which makes sense, I guess! The knee and hip cartilage take different levels and different kinds of impacts and stresses -- so would need different distributions of proteins -- and different levels of crosslinks?

I'm just kind of overwhelmed by the level of complexity that we have in something as simple as cartilage and I'm very impressed by the amount of work these authors have put in to elucidate some of this for us!

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