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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Combining blue native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry as an effective strategy for analyzing potential membrane protein complexes of Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin

Jianhua Zheng, Candong Wei, Lina Zhao, Liguo Liu, Wenchuan Leng, Weijun Li and Qi Jin*

Author affiliations

State Key Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Genetic Engineering, Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, PR China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-40

Published: 18 January 2011

Abstract

Background

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease in humans caused primarily by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and infects one-third of the world's total population. Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has been widely used to prevent tuberculosis worldwide since 1921. Membrane proteins play important roles in various cellular processes, and the protein-protein interactions involved in these processes may provide further information about molecular organization and cellular pathways. However, membrane proteins are notoriously under-represented by traditional two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2-D PAGE) and little is known about mycobacterial membrane and membrane-associated protein complexes. Here we investigated M. bovis BCG by an alternative proteomic strategy coupling blue native PAGE to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to characterize potential protein-protein interactions in membrane fractions.

Results

Using this approach, we analyzed native molecular composition of protein complexes in BCG membrane fractions. As a result, 40 proteins (including 12 integral membrane proteins), which were organized in 9 different gel bands, were unambiguous identified. The proteins identified have been experimentally confirmed using 2-D SDS PAGE. We identified MmpL8 and four neighboring proteins that were involved in lipid transport complexes, and all subunits of ATP synthase complex in their monomeric states. Two phenolpthiocerol synthases and three arabinosyltransferases belonging to individual operons were obtained in different gel bands. Furthermore, two giant multifunctional enzymes, Pks7 and Pks8, and four mycobacterial Hsp family members were determined. Additionally, seven ribosomal proteins involved in polyribosome complex and two subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase complex were also found. Notablely, some proteins with high hydrophobicity or multiple transmembrane helixes were identified well in our work.

Conclusions

In this study, we utilized LC-MS/MS in combination with blue native PAGE to characterize modular components of multiprotein complexes in BCG membrane fractions. The results demonstrated that the proteomic strategy was a reliable and reproducible tool for analysis of BCG multiprotein complexes. The identification in our study may provide some evidence for further study of BCG protein interaction.