A University of Texas at Arlington bio-analytical chemist exploring proteins, their structures, and functions by using cutting-edge analytical instrumentation called mass spectrometry has received an Academic Research Enhancement Award from the National Institutes of Health. The $354,749 in funding will help in identifying host-defense protein interactions networks caused by environmental and external agents. Dr. Saiful Chowdhury, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is the principal investigator on the project. He is developing a mass spectrometry-based chemical cross-linking technology that will provide information on large-scale protein signaling networks in their natural biological conditions. "Proteins reside inside and outside of the cells, and when we open the cells, most of the interaction information that can help us to better understand disease processes gets lost," Dr. Chowdhury said. "Current biochemical methods are not very efficient to analyze system-level or large-scale protein interaction networks. Through innovative analytical techniques, and by chemical cross-linking of proteins before cell analysis, we can overcome current limitations." Dr. Chowdhury will conduct his studies at UT Arlington's Shimadzu Center for Advanced Analytical Chemistry, which has several high-performance mass spectrometers. He will also utilize a new mass spectrometer with advance protein sequencing features being installed in his laboratory soon. A mass spectrometer is an instrument that can identify protein or peptide (small pieces of protein) sequences by fragmenting them into small pieces and analyzing their masses. Dr. Chowdhury's lab is developing crosslinkers, which contain a specific mass that will be released during mass spectrometry analysis.
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