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Surveying the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) serum proteome: a resource for identifying immunological proteins and detecting pathogens



Ben Neely, Michael G. Janech, Alison Bland, Brock Fenton, Nancy B. Simmons, Daniel J. Becker


Bats (Order: Chiroptera) are increasingly studied as model systems for longevity and for their ability to seemingly tolerate typically virulent viruses without showing clinical disease. Yet our ability to characterize immune mechanisms of viral tolerance and to quantify infection dynamics in wild bats is limited by often small sample volumes (e.g., serum) and a lack of species-specific reagents. Given these restrictions, studies of bat immunology and virology have increasingly benefitted from modern bioanalytical approaches. Proteomics approaches for studying wildlife remain in their infancy but can provide a complementary modality to define the molecular landscape. For studies using serum in particular, proteomic analysis can identify and relatively quantify hundreds of proteins, including but not limited to immunological biomarkers and pathogens. Here, we used data-independent acquisition-based shotgun proteomics to survey the proteome of serum from 17 vampire bats from northern Belize. Using just 2 μL of sample and relatively short separations of undepleted serum digests resulted in identification and relative quantification of 361 proteins across five orders of magnitude. Of interest were immunological proteins, including complement, that were compared to human plasma via published databases. These results also showed that vampire bat serum contains anti-viral and anti-bacterial components, circulating 20S proteasome complex, and proteins involved in redox activity, to name some notable functions. It is unclear whether these results might be specific to vampire bats, but future studies will seek to compare serum proteomes across the tree of life to clarify components specifically related to the vampire bat's unique phenotype (i.e., as a volant blood-feeding mammal). Additionally, known virus proteomes were used to query our vampire bat data, and the Rh186 protein from Macacine betaherpesvirus 3 (Rhesus cytomegalovirus) was identified, indicating mass
ACS Journal of Proteome Research


proteomics, serum, bat, complement, immune system


Neely, B. , Janech, M. , Bland, A. , Fenton, B. , Simmons, N. and Becker, D. (2021), Surveying the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) serum proteome: a resource for identifying immunological proteins and detecting pathogens, ACS Journal of Proteome Research, [online],, (Accessed February 22, 2024)
Created April 10, 2021, Updated October 6, 2021