Proteomic approaches are gaining increasing importance in the context of all fields of animal and veterinary sciences, including physiology, productive characterization, and disease/parasite tolerance, among others. Proteomic studies mainly aim the proteome characterization of a certain organ, tissue, cell type or organism, either in a specific condition or comparing protein differential expression within two or more selected situations. Due to the high complexity of samples, usually total protein extracts, proteomics relies heavily on separation procedures, being 2D-electrophoresis and HPLC the most common, as well as on protein identification using mass spectrometry (MS) based methodologies. Despite the increasing importance of MS in the context of animal and veterinary science studies, the usefulness of such tools is still poorly perceived by the animal science community. This is primarily due to the limited knowledge on mass spectrometry by animal scientists. Additionally, confidence and success in protein identification is hindered by the lack of information in public databases for most of farm animal species and their pathogens, with the exception of cattle (Bos taurus), pig (Sus scrofa) and chicken (Gallus gallus). In this article, we will briefly summarize the main methodologies available for protein identification using mass spectrometry providing a case study of specific applications in the field of animal science. We will also address the difficulties inherent to protein identification using MS, with particular reference to experiments using animal species poorly described in public databases. Additionally, we will suggest strategies to increase the rate of successful identifications when working with farm animal species. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Farm animal proteomics. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
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