The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Evaluation of the extracellular proteins in full-scale activated sludges

TitleEvaluation of the extracellular proteins in full-scale activated sludges
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsPark C, Novak JT, Helm RF, Ahn Y-O, Esen A
JournalWater Research
Start Page3879
Date Published08/2008
KeywordsActivated sludge flocs, cations, EPS, Hydrophobicity, Proteomics, SDS-PAGE

The proteins present in the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of activated sludge flocs were investigated using three cation-associated extraction methods. The subproteomes generated from four full-scale activated sludges were subsequently fractionated by ammonium sulfate precipitation and analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). The results showed that each extraction method led to unique SDS-PAGE protein profiles, which provided strong evidence that the extracted proteins are uniquely associated with specific cations in activated sludge flocs. The comparison of protein profiles across sludges from different treatment plants revealed that extracts obtained using a cation-exchange resin exhibited similar protein banding patterns while sulfide- and base-extracted EPS led to more variable protein profiles. Analysis of several SDS-PAGE bands by liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry of tryptic digests led to the identification of several bacterial proteins as well as sewage-derived polypeptides (human elastase IIIA and keratins). Their putative roles in activated sludges and their association with targeted cations are proposed.