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National Resource for Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Biological macromolecules

Brian T. Chait, Ph.D.

Center Overview

The National Resource for Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Biological Macromolecules develops proteomic tools for dissecting cellular function, with a special emphasis on the mass spectrometry (MS) of peptides and proteins. And we apply these tools to the study of challenging biological problems.

Impact on Human Health

An aim of the lab is to develop new methods to study viral-host and viral-viral protein interactions during the progression of the highly dynamic viral infection. In particular, members of the Chait lab are developing techniques for simultaneously visualizing individual viral proteins in host cells and identifying their interacting macromolecular partners. Some of these techniques are already facilitating a greater understanding of both the molecular details of viral infections and the biology of the cell.

Dr. Chait and his colleagues also are working toward developing a set of tools that will allow them to analyze chromatin in unprecedented detail. Specifically, they would like to be able to take any portion of a given chromosome under specified cellular conditions and define where the nucleosomes are positioned, quantitate the site-specific modifications on the histones making up those nucleosomes and define the position and makeup of every protein and protein complex that is resident on the particular piece of chromatin. Ultimately, their goal is to better understand the sets of proteins that associate with any given region of a chromosome, and how they are arranged upon the DNA sequence. Most recently, they have developed new mass spectrometric techniques for de novo sequencing proteins including proteinaceous venom components and endogenous human antibodies that appear to be protective against HIV.