Post-Translational Protein Deimination Signatures in Plasma and Plasma EVs of Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)

D’Alessio, Stefania; Thorgeirsdóttir, Stefanía; Kraev, Igor; Skírnisson, Karl and Lange, Sigrun (2021). Post-Translational Protein Deimination Signatures in Plasma and Plasma EVs of Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). Biology, 10(3), article no. e222.



The reindeer (caribou) Rangifer tarandus is a Cervidae in the order Artiodactyla. Reindeer are sedentary and migratory populations with circumpolar distribution in the Arctic, Northern Europe, Siberia and North America. Reindeer are an important wild and domesticated species, and have developed various adaptive strategies to extreme environments. Importantly, deer have also been identified to be putative zoonotic carriers, including for parasites, prions and coronavirus. Therefore, novel insights into immune-related markers are of considerable interest. Peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs) are a phylogenetically conserved enzyme family which causes post-translational protein deimination by converting arginine into citrulline in target proteins. This affects protein function in health and disease. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) participate in cellular communication, in physiological and pathological processes, via transfer of cargo material, and their release is partly regulated by PADs. This study assessed deiminated protein and EV profile signatures in plasma from sixteen healthy wild female reindeer, collected in Iceland during screening for parasites and chronic wasting disease. Reindeer plasma EV profiles showed a poly-dispersed distribution from 30 to 400 nm and were positive for phylogenetically conserved EV-specific markers. Deiminated proteins were isolated from whole plasma and plasma EVs, identified by proteomic analysis and protein interaction networks assessed by KEGG and GO analysis. This revealed a large number of deimination-enriched pathways for immunity and metabolism, with some differences between whole plasma and EVs. While shared KEGG pathways for whole plasma and plasma EVs included complement and coagulation pathways, KEGG pathways specific for EVs were for protein digestion and absorption, platelet activation, amoebiasis, the AGE–RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications, ECM receptor interaction, the relaxin signaling pathway and the estrogen signaling pathway. KEGG pathways specific for whole plasma were pertussis, ferroptosis, SLE, thyroid hormone synthesis, phagosome, Staphylococcus aureus infection, vitamin digestion and absorption, and prion disease. Further differences were also found between molecular function and biological processes GO pathways when comparing functional STRING networks for deiminated proteins in EVs, compared with deiminated proteins in whole plasma. This study highlights deiminated proteins and EVs as candidate biomarkers for reindeer health and may provide information on regulation of immune pathways in physiological and pathological processes, including neurodegenerative (prion) disease and zoonosis.

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