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Researchers Develop New Technique for IDing Proteins Secreted By Cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique to identify the proteins secreted by a cell. The new approach should help researchers collect precise data on cell biology, which is critical in fields ranging from zoology to cancer research.

The work is important because cells communicate by secreting proteins. Some of the proteins act on the cell itself, telling it to grow or multiply, for example. But the proteins can also interact with other cells, influencing them to perform any biological function.

Traditionally, scientists who wanted to identify these proteins cultured cells and then used mass spectrometry to determine which proteins appeared in the medium the cell was grown on. This has drawbacks, because the proteins of interest are fairly rare compared to the proteins that are already in the medium – which are used to grow and support the cells in the first place. Further, any attempts to culture the cells without these background, supporting proteins affects cell behavior – skewing the sample.

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