Dr. Birger Scholz

LC-MS characterization of the peptidome and degradome 

Dr Birger Scholz is a passionate scientist, with extensive experience from a variety of fields within life science. He has earned dual Masters Degrees in Biotechnology and in Ecological Toxikology, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University respectively. After finishing his undergraduate years, he got recruited by Professor Lennart Dencker, to a graduate position at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University.

In professor Denckers group, the center of attention was toxicological effects on embryogenesis and reproducibility. Dr Scholz focused on brain development in quails and various teratological studies in rats and mice. To conduct these studies, he handled massive amounts of tissue while mapping the proteome of the exposed animals. To better be able to look at proteins and peptides, Birger took contact with the Laboratory for Biological and Medical Mass Spectrometry at Uppsala University, to learn more about proteomics and particularly peptidomics, a novel technological approach for the otherwise molecularly driven group.

Peptidomics was a perfect match for the toxicological studies Dr Scholz had ongoing, and a collaboration evolved. While working with mass spectrometry, it became evident that sample handling was an uncertainty factor. The immense amounts of tissue samples demonstrated apparent differentiation in protein composition, clearly correlating to the time from sampling to analysis.

Post-doc at Cardiff University and return to peptidomics

After a post-doc period on learning and memory research at Cardiff University in Wales, UK, Dr Scholz returned to Sweden, to a position at Uppsala University where he continued to study proteomic changes in the developing and adult rodent brain. In particular he is presently working on how the postnatal neuroproteome changes with age in both genetic models (CRABP1 knock-out mice) and after exposure to environmental toxins (endocrine disrupting chemicals). Again he is looking toward the peptidomics area, as a means to study development and environment dependent changes in neural signaling in these animals.

Heat stabilization to protect samples

With his previous experiences of sample degradation, Birger was very aware of the danger of misleading results from samples that have been exposed to long post mortem time. To avoid these uncertainties, he began using heat stabilization to preserve tissue samples. After having evaluated the system extensively, he now relies on the Stabilizor technology for having stable samples for his peptidomics studies. “The subtle signs you see after exposure to developmental toxicants, as increased motor activity and learning and memory effects, are difficult to grade exclusively based on transgenic and behavioral experiment,s which is why reliable neuropeptidergic mapping is an important key to determine the mechanisms of such effect”, he says.

Today Dr Scholz uses heat stabilization in several projects every year, enabling him to look at posttranslational proteomic and peptidomic profiles with confidence. He sees a great potential for heat stabilization when looking at metabolites and post translational modifications as well. When asked if there are any drawbacks with using the Stabilizor T1, he concludes that dissecting organs after heat stabilization requires a bit of training, but as the sample has been stabilized there is no stress. He finds the instrument easy to use and appreciates that it is portable.

Publications from Dr Birger Scholz utilizing the Stabilizor technology

Neuropeptidomic analysis of the embryonic Japanese quail diencephalon, Scholz, B., H. Alm, et al., BMC Dev Biol 10: 30.
Keywords: Japanese quail brain, mass spectrometry

Impact of temperature dependent sampling procedures in proteomics and peptidomics - A characterization of the liver and pancreas post mortem degradome, B Scholz et al. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, M900229-MCP200, January 28, 2010
Keywords: Mouse liver and pancreas, 2D-GE, mass spectrometry

The impact of biosampling procedures on molecular data interpretation. Skold et al., Molecular & cellular proteomics. February 2013.