Neutrophils, cells of the innate immune system, contain an array of proteases and reactive oxygen species-generating enzymes that assist in controlling the invasion of bacteria and pathogens. The high content of intracellular proteolytic enzymes makes them difficult cells to work with as they can degrade proteins of potential interest. Here, we describe the benefits of heat treatment of neutrophils in reducing protein degradation for subsequent proteome analysis. Neutrophils isolated from four healthy volunteers were each divided into three aliquots and subjected to different preparation methods for 2-DE: (i) Heat treatment, (ii) resuspension in NP40 lysis buffer and (iii) resuspension in standard 2-DE lysis buffer. Representative spots found to be statistically significant between groups (p<0.01) were excised and identified by LC-MS/MS, three of which were validated by immunoblotting. Heat-treated samples contained proteins in the high-molecular-weight range that were absent from NP40-treated samples. Moreover, NP40-treated samples showed an increase in spot number and volume at lower molecular weights suggestive of protein degradation. Incorporating heat treatment into sample preparation resulted in the identification of proteins that may not have previously been detected due to sample degradation, thus leading to a more comprehensive 2-DE map of the human neutrophil proteome.
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