Despite the importance of post-translational variation to the function of proteins in a living organism, sequencing proteins to study these variations is still a costly and time-consuming process, with intrinsic limitations. Protein sequencing and detection of post-translational modifications (PTMs) by mass spectrometry, the current gold standard, requires extensive sample preparation and large sample sizes, and possesses a limited dynamic range with respect to sample concentration. These limitations severely restrict its application to biological and clinical problems. A robust method for sequencing proteins and detecting PTMs at the single-molecule level would be revolutionary for proteomics research, allowing biologists to quantify low-abundance proteins as well as distributions and correlations of PTM patterns, all at a single-cell level. I propose a first-of-kind method for protein sequencing with applications in fundamental biology, cancer immunotherapy, and pharmaceutical development. This method uses biological nanopores in a manner similar to nanopore DNA sequencing, an established single-molecule sequencing technology capable of high throughput and single-molecule sensitivity. Developing this method for protein sequencing comes with many significant challenges, which will be addressed over the course of the proposed research.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call