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Proteomic characterization of human brain tissue is increasingly utilized to identify potential novel biomarkers and drug targets for a variety of neurological diseases. In whole-tissue studies, results may be driven by changes in the proportion of the largest and most abundant organelles or tissue cell-type composition. Spatial proteomics approaches enhance our knowledge of disease mechanisms and changing signalling pathways at the subcellular level by taking into account the importance of cellular localization, which critically influences protein function. Density gradient-based ultracentrifugation methods allow for subcellular fractionation and have been utilized in cell lines, mouse and human brain tissue to quantify thousands of proteins in specific enriched organelles such as the pre- and post-synapse. Serial ultracentrifugation methods allow for the analysis of multiple cellular organelles from the same biological sample, and to our knowledge have not been previously applied to frozen post-mortem human brain tissue. The use of frozen human tissue for tissue fractionation faces two major challenges, the post-mortem interval, during which proteins may leach from their usual location into the cytosol, and freezing, which results in membrane breakdown. Despite these challenges, in this proof-of-concept study, we show that the majority of proteins segregate reproducibly into crude density-based centrifugation fractions, that the fractions are enriched for the appropriate organellar markers and that significant differences in protein localization can be observed between tissue from individuals with Alzheimer's disease and control individuals.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Commun

Publication Date





Alzheimer’s disease, mass spectrometry, neuroproteomics, spatial proteomics, subcellular localization