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High-throughput Isolation and Characterization of Untagged Membrane Protein Complexes: Outer Membrane Complexes of Desulfovibrio vulgaris

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Cell membranes represent the "front line" of cellular defense and the interface between a cell and its environment. To determine the range of proteins and protein complexes that are present in the cell membranes of a target organism, we have utilized a "tagless" process for the system-wide isolation and identification of native membrane protein complexes. As an initial subject for study, we have chosen the Gram-negative sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris. With this tagless methodology, we have identified about two-thirds of the outer membrane- associated proteins anticipated. Approximately three-fourths of these appear to form homomeric complexes. Statistical and machine-learning methods used to analyze data compiled over multiple experiments revealed networks of additional protein-protein interactions providing insight into heteromeric contacts made between proteins across this region of the cell. Taken together, these results establish a D. vulgaris outer membrane protein data set that will be essential for the detection and characterization of environment-driven changes in the outer membrane proteome and in the modeling of stress response pathways. The workflow utilized here should be effective for the global characterization of membrane protein complexes in a wide range of organisms.

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