The mapping of healthy human tissue is an ongoing challenge, critical to which is understanding the cellular distribution and composition of biomolecules. Among these biomolecules, proteins are perhaps the least regularized and deeply understood, with their myriad proteoforms created within cells of distinct types. Here, we outline a new measurement framework poised to better illuminate the underlying cell types and structure defining solid tissues types in human health and wellness. We propose a two-step process that identifies and characterizes selected proteins within cells of human tissue and offers the HuBMAP Consortium highly validated and renewable affinity reagents in the process. Step 1 involves the rapid deployment of previously developed, recombinant affinity reagents (rABs) and the precise characterization of whole proteoforms in human colon tissue recognized by them. Step 2 involves the creation of ?smart? probes that work on specific post-translational modifications (PTMs) in a ?proteoform-aware? fashion. The result will be specific, renewable and extremely validated affinity probes that are readily disseminated for use by HuBMAP Tissue Mapping Centers (TMCs). Importantly, these recombinant antibodies (rABs) will be among the most characterized of any in terms of their molecular recognition by the end of the three year granting period. This is because of the kind of low-bias readout that employs ?top-down? mass spectrometry (TDMS) to interrogate whole proteoforms and their PTMs directly (no proteolysis prior to mass spectrometry). The direct deliverable of this activity will be 30 affinity reagents (20 simple and 10 smart rABs that recognize PTMs) and hundreds of characterized proteoforms to key targets of high interest to HuBMAP. The affinity reagents that emerge will be in a recombinant and renewable form (i.e., proven to express in E. coli) that are ready for use in a variety of imaging modalities through conjugation to fluorescent probes. These will be applicable to immunofluorescence by confocal microscopy, imaging CyTOF (MIBI), and DNA-barcoded antibodies to name a few. The stringent process of development and validation represents a general approach to better map both the chemical space of proteins and their spatial distribution in tissue at cellular and sub- cellular resolution. Our combined platform focuses on the biologically active forms of proteins (proteoforms) and the PTMs decorating them that maintain health and wellness in the human body. PTM maps enabled by smart and renewable reagents represent a high value outcome, templated here through this collaborative effort between the Wells and Kelleher laboratories both coordinating effectively with each other and the HuBMAP Consortium.

Public Health Relevance

This activity focuses on measurements of the biologically active forms of proteins, complete with their post- translational modifications that decorate them in healthy human tissues. Renewable and highly validated reagents will be created and circulated into a Consortium of investigators to assist in mapping tissues in the human body with cellular and sub-cellular resolution.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement Phase II (UH3)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Li, Jerry
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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