Preservation of the metaproteome: Variability of protein preservation in ancient dental calculus

Meaghan Mackie, Jessica Ruth Hendy, Abigail Daisy Lowe, Alessandra Sperduti, Malin Ragnhild Holst, Matthew James Collins, Camilla Filomena Speller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Proteomic analysis of dental calculus is emerging as a powerful tool for disease and dietary characterisation of archaeological populations. To better understand the variability in protein results from dental calculus, we analysed 21 samples from three Roman-period populations to compare: 1) the quantity of extracted protein; 2) the number of mass spectral queries; and 3) the number of peptide spectral matches and protein identifications. We found little correlation between the quantity of calculus analysed and total protein identifications, as well as no systematic trends between site location and protein preservation. We identified a wide range of individual variability, which may be associated with the mechanisms of calculus formation and/or post-depositional contamination, in addition to taphonomic factors. Our results suggest dental calculus is indeed a stable, long-term reservoir of proteins as previously reported, but further systematic studies are needed to identify mechanisms associated with protein entrapment and survival in dental calculus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSTAR: Science Technology of Archaeological Research
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Archaeology
  • dental calculus
  • destructive analysis
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Shotgun proteomics
  • protein preservation

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