Method developed to study the functionality of the microbiota


A research group from the Turku Bioscience Center in Finland has developed a new method to study microbiota functionality through metaproteomics. The new method has great potential for studying microbiota at a new functional level. Characterizing the functionality of the gut microbiota is essential in the study of human health and disease as well as in the prediction, prevention and treatment of disease. Previous studies have mainly focused on cataloging the composition of the microbiota, but little is known about the functionality of the human gut microbiota.

Proteins are essential for the body’s vital functions. They manage most cellular functions and allow complex interactions between the cell and its environment. The study of proteins can therefore offer a great deal of information on the different functions of cells. Protein analyzes can be widely used in medical research, including gut microbiome profiling.

The important role of the intestinal microbiota on human health and its role in different diseases has been recognized in studies published in recent years. A research group from the University of Turku led by Professor Laura Elo has developed a new method based on mass spectrometry, which allows an in-depth study of protein levels in complex samples of microbiota.

“Until recently, microbiota research has focused heavily on discovering the microbes present in a sample, but analyzing the functionality of the microbiota has been a challenge. Recent advances in technology, however, have also allowed a deep dive deeper into functionality. The study of protein levels in microbiota samples is one such burgeoning area of ​​research, allowing us to achieve a broader understanding of the functionality and dynamics of the microbiota,” says Elo.

The newly developed method uses the latest mass spectrometry technology and advanced computational methods that allow significantly better coverage and reproducibility of results compared to previous methods.

“The new method we have developed for analyzing complex protein data produces more reliable results than previous methods,” says postdoctoral researcher Sami Pietilä.

“Currently used research methods typically only analyze the most abundant proteins, causing results to fluctuate from run to run. The new method analyzes samples systematically and produces reliable results without this type of fluctuation,” Pietilä continues.

The calculation method has been released as open source software and is freely available to the research community.

“It was extremely important for us to make this newly developed method available to all researchers in the form of an easy-to-use application. We are also ready to engage in the development and maintenance of this tool,” adds postdoctoral researcher Tomi Suomi.

Reference: Pietilä S, Suomi T, Elo LL. Presentation of the independent acquisition of untargeted data for the metaproteomics of complex microbial samples. COMMON ISMS. 2022;2(1):1-8. do I:10.1038/s43705-022-00137-0

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