Azémard, Clara, et al. “Untangling the fibre ball: Proteomic characterization of South American camelid hair fibres by untargeted multivariate analysis and molecular networking.” Journal of Proteomics 231 (2021): 104040. doi:10.1016/j.jprot.2020.104040
The proteomic analysis of hairs, yarns or textiles has emerged as a powerful method to determine species of origin, mainly used in archaeozoological research and fraud control. Differentiation between the South American camelid (SAC) species (the wild guanaco and vicuña and their respective domesticates the llama and alpaca) is particularly challenging due to poor database information and significant hybridization between species. In this study, we analysed 41 modern and 4 archaeological samples from the four SACs species. Despite strong similarities with Old World Camelidae, we identified 7 peptides specific to SACs assigned to keratin K86 and the keratin-associated proteins KAP13-1 and KAP11-1. Untargeted multivariate analysis of the LC-MS data permitted to distinguish SAC species and propose discriminant features. MS/MS-based molecular networking combined with database-assisted de novo sequencing permitted to identify 5 new taxonomic peptides assigned to K33a, K81 and/or K83 keratins and KAP19-1. These peptides differentiate the two wild species, guanaco and vicuña. These results show the value of combining database search and untargeted metabolomic approaches for paleoproteomics, and reveal for the first time the potential of molecular networks to highlight deamidation related to diagenesis and cluster highly similar peptides related to interchain homologies or intra- or inter-specific polymorphism.