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Ancient Protein Extraction

A growing section of our laboratory work concerns the extraction and analysis of ancient protein sequences, particularly ZooMS (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) and LC-MS/MS analysis of ancient hominin bone and dental samples.

The laboratory facilities dedicated to the extraction, digestion and analysis of ancient proteins prior to shotgun proteomics are particularly concerned with preventing protein contamination and, after bioinformatics analysis, the in silico identification of protein contamination.  

The Department of Human Evolution has facilities for small-scale and large-scale, high-throughput ZooMS screening of entire bone assemblages. We employ a two-step extraction process which facilitates the simultaneous taxonomic identification of bone specimens as well as the acquisition of indicators of collagen degradation (in particular, glutamine deamidation). Furthermore, our standard extraction protocol minimizes laboratory time by removing a demineralization step for most samples. We have built a collagen type I sequence database covering all middle, large and megafauna-sized mammalian genera in existence in Western Eurasia from MIS-5 onwards, which facilitates accurate and confident taxonomic identifications for our core projects (which are Late Pleistocene in age). In addition, our collagen type I database is constantly expanded and updated.

We have ongoing collaborations with various institutes inside and outside of Leipzig for MALDI-TOF-MS and LC-MS/MS analysis.


For further information see:

Palaeoproteomics page

Frido Welker