Identification of proteins from 4200-year-old skin and muscle tissue biopsies from ancient Egyptian mummies of the first intermediate period shows evidence of acute inflammation and severe immune response

Jana Jones, Mehdi Mirzaei, Prathiba Ravishankar, Dylan Xavier, Do Seon Lim, Dong Hoon Shin, Raffaella Bianucci, Paul A. Haynes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We performed proteomics analysis on four skin and one muscle tissue samples taken from three ancient Egyptian mummies of the first intermediate period, approximately 4200 years old. The mummies were first dated by radiocarbon dating of the accompanying textiles, and morphologically examined by scanning electron microscopy of additional skin samples. Proteins were extracted, separated on SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) gels, and in-gel digested with trypsin. The resulting peptides were analysed using nanoflow high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. We identified a total of 230 unique proteins from the five samples, which consisted of 132 unique protein identifications. We found a large number of collagens, which was confirmed by our microscopy data, and is in agreement with previous studies showing that collagens are very long-lived. As expected, we also found a large number of keratins.We identified numerous proteins that provide evidence of activation of the innate immunity system in two of the mummies, one of which also contained proteins indicating severe tissue inflammation, possibly indicative of an infection that we can speculate may have been related to the cause of death.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150373
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume374
Issue number2079
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016

Keywords

  • ancient proteins
  • protein identification
  • mummification
  • collagen
  • inflammation

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