Step-by-step strategy for protein enrichment and proteome characterisation of extracellular polymeric substances in wastewater treatment systems

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Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are keys in biomass aggregation and settleability in wastewater treatment systems. In membrane bioreactors (MBR), EPS are an important factor as they are considered to be largely responsible for membrane fouling. Proteins were shown to be the major component of EPS produced by activated sludge and to be correlated with the properties of the sludge, like settling, hydrophobicity and cell aggregation. Previous EPS proteomic studies of activated sludge revealed several problems, like the interference of other EPS molecules in protein analysis. In this study, a successful strategy was outlined to identify the proteins from soluble and bound EPS extracted from activated sludge of a lab-scale MBR. EPS samples were first subjected to pre-concentration through lyophilisation, centrifugal ultrafiltration or concentration with a dialysis membrane coated by a highly absorbent powder of polyacrylate-polyalcohol, preceded or not by a dialysis step. The highest protein concentration factors were achieved with the highly absorbent powder method without previous dialysis step. Four protein precipitation methods were then tested: acetone, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), perchloric acid and a commercial kit. Protein profiles were compared in 4-12 % sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels. Both acetone and TCA should be applied for the highest coverage for soluble EPS proteins, whereas TCA was the best method for bound EPS proteins. All visible bands of selected profiles were subjected to mass spectrometry analysis. A high number of proteins (25-32 for soluble EPS and 17 for bound EPS) were identified. As a conclusion of this study, a workflow is proposed for the successful proteome characterisation of soluble and bound EPS from activated sludge samples.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)767-776
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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