Date of Award

Summer 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Harry Ischiropoulos


The ability of astrocytes to secrete proteins subserves many of its known function, such as synapse formation during development and extracellular matrix remodeling after cellular injury. Protein secretion may also play an important, but less clear, role in the propagation of inflammatory responses and neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis. While potential astrocyte-secreted proteins may number in the thousands, known astrocyte-secreted proteins are less than 100. To address this fundamental deficiency, mass spectrometry-based proteomics and bioinformatic tools were utilized for global discovery, comparison, and quantification of astrocyte-secreted proteins. A primary mouse astrocyte cell culture model was used to generate a collection of astrocyte-secreted proteins termed the astrocyte secretome. A multidimensional protein and peptide separation approach paired with mass spectrometric analysis interrogated the astrocyte secretome under control and cytokine-exposed conditions, identifying cytokine-induced secreted proteins, while extending the depth of known astrocyte-secreted proteins to 169. Several of these proteins were likely secreted by non-conventional mechanisms. These non-conventional mechanisms were explored further using stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture, revealing 12 putative non-conventionally secreted proteins. These qualitative and quantitative mass spectrometry approaches are broadly applicable for the study of cellular secretomes as well as for extension to in vivo secretomes.

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