Tuesday, March 12, 2024

FUNCTIONAL spatial proteomics is live!

In a very early entry for paper of the year....

Quick overview - one of the goals of any sort of bioenergy production has been to figure out how the actual fuck microorganisms break down cellulose into usable energy sources without literally catching it on fire. If you can release the base sugar molecules trapped in WOOD you could do easy things like convert that to ethanol or butanol or other handy things. 

The problem is that these things are not happening in a homogeneous way. There are typically diverse populations of organisms widely dispersed throughout the material that are doing these things. 

How do you decide where to actually focus your efforts? 

How do you know that where you are analyzing is actually where the cool stuff is happening? 

Do what this groundbreaking work at PNNL is doing! You first slice your material and you use mass spectrometry imaging (they're using MALDI-FITCR I think) to locate the breakdown molecules that you are interested in.

THEN you take that same material off and you cut tiny tiny tiny tiny sections out of the area where those molecules came from. They're using NanoPots / MicroPots and then doing proteomics / metaproteomics. 

So now they know what enzymes are directly linked to the small spatial area where the lignocellulose breakdown products are coming from! Killer, right? Okay, but get this, why can't you just use this exact same system and apply it to other biological materials? We got a glimpse of what is coming down the pipeline from PNNL when we interviewed Dr. Burnum-Johnson on THE Proteomics Show earlier this year. There is something coming that is definitely worth setting a google scholar alert on this PI's name. 

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