Meet Larry Dangott, the Director of the Protein Chemistry Laboratory at Texas A&M. Larry has been purifying proteins using chromatography and gels for over 35 years! I talked with Larry this week to learn about his extensive experience and his lab at Texas A&M.
When was the Protein Chemistry Lab at Texas A&M created, and why was it created?
The Protein Chemistry Laboratory (PCL) at Texas A&M University was established in 1997 in response to requests from the faculty to have a centralized facility to help faculty and students accelerate their protein research. The multiple Missions of the PCL are 1) To support and advance protein chemistry and proteomics research, 2) To provide state-of-the-art instrumentation and technical expertise and training for the application of modern technologies and 3) To help our clients to succeed. The PCL provides service to Texas A&M University System campuses, non-affiliated academic and non-profit institutions and commercial clients.
Who are the scientists that work at the Protein Chemistry Lab?
The laboratory services are provided primarily by two full-time career scientists, Virginia (Jinny) Johnson and myself, Larry Dangott. I received my B.A. degree in Biology from California State University, San José and my M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Biology from the University of Oregon where I was trained in comparative biochemistry of non-vertebrate respiratory proteins. My research interests center on gamete interactions and signaling and include the structure and function of receptors on sperm involved in the activation of sperm motility. Jinny received her B.S. degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her M.S. degree in Reproductive Physiology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She has extensive experience in biotechnology support laboratories in addition to several years in clinical labs at the UT Southwestern and Veterans Administration Medical Centers in Dallas.
What is the history of the Protein Chemistry Lab at Texas A&M – how did it come into existence?
We started out in a one-room basement laboratory in the Chemistry building, over the years the PCL has grown in size and scope, so that for the last 12 years it has been located in a modern, two laboratory suite on the fourth floor of the Biochemistry & Biophysics building.
How does your location benefit the lab?
The centralized location of the laboratory and support provided by the Department and the University enable the PCL to offer a wide array of techniques, including Amino Acid Analysis, automated Edman Sequencing, electrophoretic and chromatographic protein separations and mass spectrometry conveniently to our clientele. In addition, access to modern, well-stocked teaching laboratories in Biochemistry & Biophysics building enables the PCL to offer a very successful series of hands-on training workshops on a variety of modern protein analysis techniques including 2D gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry.
What does the Protein Chemistry Lab specialize in?
Although strong in all areas of protein analysis, the PCL excels in Amino Acid Analysis (AAA) and protein separations. Jinny runs all AAA services and using pre-column derivatization and rpHPLC methods provides quantitative analysis of 16 naturally occurring amino acids from proteins (after hydrolysis) and free amino acids biological fluids. Additionally, Jinny is able to report physiological amino acids including, but not restricted to, Citrulline, β-Alanine, Taurine, Ornithine and Tryptophan.
What is the most unique project you’ve worked on at the Protein Chemistry Lab?
Amino Acid Analysis can be used in many creative ways. One of the more unusual AAA projects involved the amount of Diaminopimelic Acid (found in bacterial cell walls) in bovine digesta. This analysis turns out to be a very accurate way to measure the increase of essential bacteria in the bovine gut.
I have been purifying proteins using chromatography for over 35 years, and have become an expert at all electrophoretic separations, too. I like to say that if a project can’t be done with a gel, “it’s probably not worth doing”.
The PCL introduced 2D-Difference Gel Electrophoresis (DIGE) about 8 years ago as a means for measuring changes in protein expression using intact protein. Using the gels as a starting point, the samples lead naturally to a mass spectrometry pipeline (nano-LCMSMS) for protein ID. Recently, we used the DIGE technique to identify protein markers involved in canine kidney disease. Another is the proteomic analysis of horse laminar tissue (located in the hoof) to help identify protein factors that may be involved in the crippling equine disease, laminitis,
How has Science Exchange changed the way you get projects?
The PCL, like most Core facilities, is always looking for ways to expand their clientele. Working with Science Exchange for the last 1.5 years has proven to be a beneficial relationship in that regard. We submit estimates 5-10 times per year and have added clients to our user list as a result. Typically once the bid is accepted and samples arrive, we return results within 3 business days, depending upon the project. The projects found through SE really help fill out the work list for the lab and keep the instruments occupied as well as enhance our income stream. We look forward to continuing the relationship.
For a full list of the Protein Chemistry Lab’s services, check out their facility page at https://scienceexchange.com/facilities/tamu-protein-chemistry-lab/