Yeast Knockouts Peel Back Secrets of Cell Protein Function

Proteins are the hammers and tongs of life, with fundamental roles in most of what happens in biology. But biologists still don’t know what thousands of proteins do, and how their presence or absence affects the cell.

The intellectual black hole extends to mitochondria, the cells’ energy machines, which falter in more than 150 diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s and numerous genetic disorders.

To fill in the blanks on mitochondria, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison deleted 174 genes, one by one, in yeast. They then subjected the yeast to high-intensity mass spectrometry to measure unprecedented detail on thousands of metabolic products, including proteins, intermediate chemicals called metabolites, and lipids.

In the latest issue of Nature Biotechnology, Joshua Coon, a UW–Madison professor of biomolecular chemistry, and David Pagliarini, director of metabolism research for the Morgridge Institute for Research at the UW, report a comprehensive analysis of the effect of deleting single genes.

To read more about this research, see the news release at the link below.