Extensive characterization of Tupaia belangeri neuropeptidome using an integrated mass spectrometric approach

J Proteome Res. 2012 Feb 3;11(2):886-96. doi: 10.1021/pr200709j. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Neuropeptidomics is used to characterize endogenous peptides in the brain of tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri). Tree shrews are small animals similar to rodents in size but close relatives of primates, and are excellent models for brain research. Currently, tree shrews have no complete proteome information available on which direct database search can be allowed for neuropeptide identification. To increase the capability in the identification of neuropeptides in tree shrews, we developed an integrated mass spectrometry (MS)-based approach that combines methods including data-dependent, directed, and targeted liquid chromatography (LC)-Fourier transform (FT)-tandem MS (MS/MS) analysis, database construction, de novo sequencing, precursor protein search, and homology analysis. Using this integrated approach, we identified 107 endogenous peptides that have sequences identical or similar to those from other mammalian species. High accuracy MS and tandem MS information, with BLAST analysis and chromatographic characteristics were used to confirm the sequences of all the identified peptides. Interestingly, further sequence homology analysis demonstrated that tree shrew peptides have a significantly higher degree of homology to equivalent sequences in humans than those in mice or rats, consistent with the close phylogenetic relationship between tree shrews and primates. Our results provide the first extensive characterization of the peptidome in tree shrews, which now permits characterization of their function in nervous and endocrine system. As the approach developed fully used the conservative properties of neuropeptides in evolution and the advantage of high accuracy MS, it can be portable for identification of neuropeptides in other species for which the fully sequenced genomes or proteomes are not available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Databases, Protein
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neuropeptides / analysis*
  • Neuropeptides / chemistry
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Tupaia / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptides
  • Proteome