Protein methylation is a post-translational modification process involving the addition of methyl groups to a region of the protein. The process plays an important role in protein regulation and is critical for human health and development. Tools and techniques examining methylation proteomics (protein analysis) is key to understanding the role of protein methylation in health and disease.
The goals of this project were to develop a tool that would increase the ability to observe post-translational modifications and subsequently optimize and engineer it for commercial use. This project created a new, high performance enrichment tool (‘MethylTrap’) that revealed many hundreds of modification sites in a series of proteomics experiments. These modification sites were not visible without the enrichment step being taken, and they are a rich prospecting ground for signals that relate to human disease. The project team is collaborating with a clinical diagnostics company (SISCAPA, Inc) to deploy the enrichment technology in the company’s clinical diagnostic workflows.
The immediate benefits to Canada have been in the training of multiple highly qualified students who will enter the workforce with skills in biological chemistry, proteomics, and diagnostics. The longer-term benefits will arise with their further work with SISCAPA and other partners to create and deploy previously impossible clinical assays that will guide better treatment decisions in a variety of neurological conditions and cancers.