Discovery of mouse spleen signaling responses to anthrax using label-free quantitative phosphoproteomics via mass spectrometry

Nathan P. Manes, Li Dong, Weidong Zhou, Xiuxia Du, Nikitha Reghu, Arjan C. Kool, Dahan Choi, Charles L. Bailey, Emanuel F. Petricoin, Lance A. Liotta, Serguei G. Popov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Inhalational anthrax is caused by spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis), and is an extremely dangerous disease that can kill unvaccinated victims within 2 weeks. Modern antibiotic-based therapy can increase the survival rate to ∼50%, but only if administered presymptomatically (within 24-48 h of exposure). To discover host signaling responses to presymptomatic anthrax, label-free quantitative phosphoproteomics via liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry was used to compare spleens from uninfected and spore-challenged mice over a 72 h time-course. Spleen proteins were denatured using urea, reduced using dithiothreitol, alkylated using iodoacetamide, and digested into peptides using trypsin, and the resulting phosphopeptides were enriched using titanium dioxide solid-phase extraction and analyzed by nano-liquid chromatography-Linear Trap Quadrupole-Orbitrap-MS(/MS). The fragment ion spectra were processed using DeconMSn and searched using both Mascot and SEQUEST resulting in 252,626 confident identifications of 6248 phosphopeptides (corresponding to 5782 phosphorylation sites). The precursor ion spectra were deisotoped using Decon2LS and aligned using MultiAlign resulting in the confident quantitation of 3265 of the identified phosphopeptides. ANOVAs were used to produce a q-value ranked list of host signaling responses. Late-stage (48-72 h postchallenge) Sterne strain (lethal) infections resulted in global alterations to the spleen phosphoproteome. In contrast, ΔSterne strain (asymptomatic; missing the anthrax toxin) infections resulted in 188 (5.8%) significantly altered (q<0.05) phosphopeptides. Twenty-six highly tentative phosphorylation responses to early-stage (24 h postchallenge) anthrax were discovered (q<0.5), and ten of these originated from eight proteins that have known roles in the host immune response. These tentative early-anthrax host response signaling events within mouse spleens may translate into presymptomatic diagnostic biomarkers of human anthrax detectable within circulating immune cells, and could aid in the identification of pathogenic mechanisms and therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular and Cellular Proteomics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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