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February Meeting

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at USP
Dinner & Social 6pm, Lecture 7pm

Speaker: Peter Nemes, University of Maryland College Park
Title: Capillary Electrophoresis Mass Spectrometry for Microanalysis of Proteins and Metabolites in the Developing Vertebrate Embryo and the Mammalian Brain

Abstract: Patterning of the embryonic body, establishment of the central nervous system, and maintenance of homeostatic balances depend on an intricate interplay of proteins and metabolites. However, the direct characterization of these important biomolecules has been challenging at the level of single cells, neurons, and functional regions of the brain due to current sensitivity limitations by mass spectrometry (MS). In this presentation, we will discuss ultrasensitive microanalytical MS platforms that we have recently developed and validated to alleviate these analytical challenges posted by microanalytical biological investigations. We will overview technical details of a custom-built capillary electrophoresis electrospray ionization platform that provided unrivaled sensitivity over classical nano-flow liquid chromatography. With an approximately hundred zeptomole lower limit of detection and capability of quantification, this technology has enabled the detection and quantification of hundreds-to-thousands of proteins and hundreds of metabolite signals in single embryonic cells in the early developing embryo of the South African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), single neurons in the mouse brain, and peptides of the angiotensinogen system in identified regions of the mouse brain. This technology is amenable to other types of samples, tissues, biological models, thus effectively expanding the microanalytical toolbox for biological studies..

Bio: Peter Nemes is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park. After obtaining a PhD in chemistry from the George Washington University (advisor: Prof. Akos Vertes), he completed postdoctoral training in analytical neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (mentor: Prof. Jonathan V. Sweedler). Dr. Nemes was a Laboratory Leader and Staff Fellow at the US Food and Drug Administration (2011–2013) and then an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the George Washington University, before moving to the University of Maryland, College Park in early 2018.

Research in the Nemes Laboratory develops ultrasensitive and microanalytical platforms for high-resolution mass spectrometry to study metabolic and proteomic processes during developmental processes. Using these custom-built single-cell mass spectrometry systems, the Nemes Research Group has uncovered previously unknown molecular differences between single embryonic cells that give rise to different types of tissues during vertebrate development. Furthermore, the group has discovered small molecules that are able to alter the normal developmental fate of these embryonic cells. The group has also applied these custom-built technologies to measure proteins in single neurons and identified functional regions in the mammalian brain (mouse). These results challenge our basic understanding of molecular processes that are necessary for normal embryonic development.

Prof. Nemes has authored 41 peer-reviewed publications, 6 book chapters, and 170+ presentations. He is co-inventor of the patented and licensed LAESI mass spectrometry technology. In 2015, Prof. Nemes was named a Beckman Young Investigator by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and also received the 2016 Arthur F. Findeis Award for Achievements by a Young Analytical Chemist by the Division of Analytical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. In 2017, Prof. Nemes received the DuPont Young Professor Award and the Robert J. Cotter New Investigator Award by the US Human Proteome Organization.