, Volume 70, Issue 19, pp 3709-3722
Date: 06 Jun 2013

Paleoproteomic study of the Iceman’s brain tissue


The Tyrolean Iceman, a Copper-age ice mummy, is one of the best-studied human individuals. While the genome of the Iceman has largely been decoded, tissue-specific proteomes have not yet been investigated. We studied the proteome of two distinct brain samples using gel-based and liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry-based proteomics technologies together with a multiple-databases and -search algorithms-driven data-analysis approach. Thereby, we identified a total of 502 different proteins. Of these, 41 proteins are known to be highly abundant in brain tissue and 9 are even specifically expressed in the brain. Furthermore, we found 10 proteins related to blood and coagulation. An enrichment analysis revealed a significant accumulation of proteins related to stress response and wound healing. Together with atomic force microscope scans, indicating clustered blood cells, our data reopens former discussions about a possible injury of the Iceman’s head near the site where the tissue samples have been extracted.

F. Maixner, T. Overath, and D. Linke contributed equally as first authors.
A. Tholey, A. Zink and A. Keller contributed equally as senior authors.