Mammoth Collagen Sequenced Using Mass Spectrometry

April 27, 2011

Scientists use an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer to extract proteins from the bones of a 600,000-year-old mammoth.

Scientists from the University of York (York, United Kingdom) and the University of Manchester (Manchester, United Kingom) have used an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer to extract proteins from the bones of a 600,000-year-old mammoth. With these proteins, the team was able to create a nearly complete collagen sequence for the skeleton known as the West Runton Elephant.

In a statement issued by the University of York, Mike Buckley, PhD, one of three co-researchers, says that the protein extracted “is an ideal target for obtaining long lost genetic information.” Although there have been controversial reports of peptides discovered in dinosaur fossils, the team argues that the collagen sequence from the West Runton Elephant is the oldest protein ever sequenced.

The team conducted their research at the Centre for Excellence in Mass Spectrometry at the University of York, and applied their findings to an overall study of mammoths and mastadons published in the April 2011 issue of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.