MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry proteomic phenotyping of clinically relevant fungi

Lorenza Putignani, Federica Del Chierico, Manuela Onori, Livia Mancinelli, Marta Argentieri, Paola Bernaschi, Luana Coltella, Barbara Lucignano, Laura Pansani, Stefania Ranno, Cristina Russo, Andrea Urbani, Giorgio Federici, Donato Menichella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proteomics is particularly suitable for characterising human pathogens with high life cycle complexity, such as fungi. Protein content and expression levels may be affected by growth states and life cycle morphs and correlate to species and strain variation. Identification and typing of fungi by conventional methods are often difficult, time-consuming and frequently, for unusual species, inconclusive. Proteomic phenotypes from MALDI-TOF MS were employed as analytical and typing expression profiling of yeast, yeast-like species and strain variants in order to achieve a microbial proteomics population study. Spectra from 303 clinical isolates were generated and processed by standard pattern matching with a MALDI-TOF Biotyper (MT). Identifications (IDs) were compared to a reference biochemical-based system (Vitek-2) and, when discordant, MT IDs were verified with genotyping IDs, obtained by sequencing the 25-28S rRNA hypervariable D2 region. Spectra were converted into virtual gel-like formats, and hierarchical clustering analysis was performed for 274 Candida profiles to investigate species and strain typing correlation. MT provided 257/303 IDs consistent with Vitek-2 ones. However, amongst 26/303 discordant MT IDs, only 5 appeared "true". No MT identification was achieved for 20/303 isolates for incompleteness of database species variants. Candida spectra clustering agreed with identified species and topology of Candida albicans and Candida parapsilosis specific dendrograms. MT IDs show a high analytical performance and profiling heterogeneity which seems to complement or even outclass existing typing tools. This variability reflects the high biological complexity of yeasts and may be properly exploited to provide epidemiological tracing and infection dispersion patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-629
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular BioSystems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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