Identification of Peptides in spider venom using mass spectrometry

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Spider venoms are composed of hundreds of proteins and peptides. Several of these venom toxins are cysteine-rich peptides in the mass range of 3–9 kDa. Small peptides (<3 kDa) can be fully characterized by mass spectrometry analysis, while proteins are generally identified by the bottom-up approach in which proteins are first digested with trypsin to generate shorter peptides for MS/MS characterization. In general, it is sufficient for protein identification to sequence two or more peptides, but for venom peptidomics it is desirable to completely elucidate peptide sequences and the number of disulfide bonds in the molecules. In this chapter we describe a methodology to completely sequence and determine the number of disulfide bonds of spider venom peptides in the mass range of 3–9 kDa by multiple enzyme digestion, mass spectrometry of native and digested peptides, de novo analysis, and sequence overlap alignment.
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