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Decellularization, Enrichment, Extracellular matrix, Heart, Matrix metalloproteinases, Solubility

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a critical tissue component, providing structural support as well as important regulatory signaling cues to govern cellular growth, metabolism, and differentiation. The study of ECM proteins, however, is hampered by the low solubility of ECM components in common solubilizing reagents. ECM proteins are often not detected during proteomics analyses using unbiased approaches due to solubility issues and relatively low abundance compared to highly abundant cytoplasmic and mitochondrial proteins. Decellularization has become a common technique for ECM protein-enrichment and is frequently used in engineering studies. Solubilizing the ECM after decellularization for further proteomic examination has not been previously explored in depth. In this study, we describe testing of a series of protocols that enabled us to develop a novel optimized strategy for the enrichment and solubilization of ECM components. Following tissue decellularization, we use acid extraction and enzymatic deglycosylation to facilitate re-solubilization. The end result is the generation of three fractions for each sample: soluble components, cellular components, and an insoluble ECM fraction. These fractions, developed in mass spectrometry-compatible buffers, are amenable to proteomics analysis. The developed protocol allows identification (by mass spectrometry) and quantification (by mass spectrometry or immunoblotting) of ECM components in tissue samples.

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Journal of Proteomics, v. 86, p. 43-52

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