Protein phosphorylation regulates many cellular processes and pathways, such as cell cycle progression, signal transduction cascades and gene expression. Selective detection of phosphopeptides from proteolytic digests is a challenging and highly relevant task in many proteomics applications. Often phosphopeptides are present in small amounts and need selective isolation or enrichment before identification. Here we report a novel approach to label selectively phospho-Ser/-Thr residues by exploiting the features of a novel linear ion trap mass spectrometer. Using dansyl labelling and MS3 fragmentation, we developed a method useful for the large-scale proteomic profiling of phosphorylation sites. The new residues in the sequence were stable and easily identifiable under general conditions for tandem mass spectrometric sequencing.
Amyloid fibrils of patients treated with regular haemodialysis essentially consists of beta2-microglobulin (beta2-m) and its truncated species DeltaN6beta2-m lacking six residues at the amino terminus. The truncated fragment shows a higher propensity to self-aggregate and constitutes an excellent candidate for the analysis of a protein in the amyloidogenic conformation. The surface topology and the conformational analysis of native beta2-m and the truncated DeltaN6beta2-m species both in the soluble and in the fibrillar forms were investigated by the limited proteolysis/mass spectrometry strategy. The conformation in solution of a further truncated mutant DeltaN3beta2-m lacking three residues at the N-terminus was also examined. This approach appeared particularly suited to investigate the regions that are solvent-exposed, or flexible enough to be accessible to protein-protein interactions and to describe the conformation of transient intermediates. Moreover, proteolysis experiments can also be tailored to investigate amyloid fibrils by discriminating the protein regions constituting the unaccessible core of the fibrils and those still flexible and exposed to the solvent. Although native beta2-m and DeltaN3beta2-m shared essentially the same conformation, significative structural differences exist between the native and the DeltaN6beta2-m proteins in solution with major differences located at the end moiety of strand V and subsequent loop with strand VI and at both the N- and C-termini of the proteins. On the contrary, an identical distribution of preferential proteolytic sites was observed in both proteins in the fibrillar state, which was nearly superimposible to that observed for the soluble form of DeltaN6beta2-m. These data revealed that synthetic fibrils essentially consists of an unaccessible core comprising residues 20-87 of the beta2-m protein with exposed and flexible N- and C-terminal ends. Moreover, proteolytic cleavages observed in vitro at Lys 6 and Lys 19 reproduce specific cleavages that have to take place in vivo to generate the truncated forms of beta2-m occurring in natural fibrils. On the basis of these results, a molecular mechanism for fibril formation has been proposed.
The glial-cell-line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) ligand activates the Ret receptor through the assembly of a multiprotein complex, including the GDNF family receptor alpha1 (GFRalpha1) molecule. Given the neuroprotective role of GDNF, there is an obvious need to precisely identify the structural regions engaged in direct interactions between the three molecules. Here, we combined a functional approach for Ret activity (in PC12 cells) to cross-linking experiments followed by MS-MALDI to study the interactions among the purified extracellular region of the human Ret, GDNF and GFRalpha1 molecules. This procedure allowed us to identify distinct regions of Ret that are physically engaged in the interaction with GDNF and GFRalpha1. The lack of these regions in a recombinant Ret form results in the failure of both structural and functional binding of Ret to GFRalpha1/GDNF complex. Furthermore, a model for the assembly of a transducing-competent Ret complex is suggested.
The human ribosomal protein L7a is a component of the major ribosomal subunit. We previously identified three nuclear-localization-competent domains within L7a, and demonstrated that the domain defined by aa (amino acids) 52-100 is necessary, although not sufficient, to target the L7a protein to the nucleoli. We now demonstrate that L7a interacts in vitro with a presumably G-rich RNA structure, which has yet to be defined. We also demonstrate that the L7a protein contains two RNA-binding domains: one encompassing aa 52-100 (RNAB1) and the other encompassing aa 101-161 (RNAB2). RNAB1 does not contain any known nucleic-acid-binding motif, and may thus represent a new class of such motifs. On the other hand, a specific region of RNAB2 is highly conserved in several other protein components of the ribonucleoprotein complex. We have investigated the topology of the L7a-RNA complex using a recombinant form of the protein domain that encompasses residues 101-161 and a 30mer poly(G) oligonucleotide. Limited proteolysis and cross-linking experiments, and mass spectral analyses of the recombinant protein domain and its complex with poly(G) revealed the RNA-binding region.
The formation of the fruit body represents the final phase of the ectomycorrhizal fungus T. borchii life cycle. Very little is known concerning the molecular and biochemical processes involved in the fructification phase. 2-DE maps of unripe and ripe ascocarps revealed different protein expression levels and the comparison of the electropherograms led to the identification of specific proteins for each developmental phase. Associating micropreparative 2-DE to microchemical approaches, such as N-terminal sequencing and 2-D gel-electrophoresis mass-spectrometry, proteins playing pivotal roles in truffle physiology were identified.
Formation of misfolded aggregates is an essential part of what proteins can do. The process of protein aggregation is central to many human diseases and any aggregating event needs to be prevented within a cell and in protein design. In order to aggregate, a protein needs to unfold its native state, at least partially. The conformational state that is prone to aggregate is difficult to study, due to its aggregating potential and heterogeneous nature. Here, we use a systematic approach of limited proteolysis, in combination with electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry, to investigate the regions that are most flexible and solvent-exposed within the native, ligand-bound and amyloidogenic states of muscle acylphosphatase (AcP), a protein previously shown to form amyloid fibrils in the presence of trifluoroethanol. Seven proteases with different degrees of specificity have been used for this purpose. Following exposure to the aggregating conditions, a number of sites along the sequence of AcP become susceptible to proteolytic digestion. The pattern of proteolytic cleavages obtained under these conditions is considerably different from that of the native and ligand-bound conformations and includes a portion within the N-terminal tail of the protein (residues 6-7), the region of the sequence 18-23 and the position 94 near the C terminus. There is a significant overlap between the regions of the sequence found to be solvent-exposed from the present study and those previously identified to be critical in the rate-determining steps of aggregation from protein engineering approaches. This indicates that a considerable degree of solvent exposure is a feature of the portions of a protein that initiate the process of aggregation.
Phosphoproteomics, nowadays, represents a front line in functional proteomics as testified by the number of papers recently appearing in the literature. In an attempt to improve and simplify the methods so far suggested we have set up a simple isotope-coded approach to label and quantitate phospho-Ser/-Thr residues in protein mixtures. First of all, after appropriate oxidation of cysteine/cystine residues followed by tryptic hydrolysis, we have optimised and simplified the beta-elimination reaction to get the corresponding alkene moiety from the phosphate esters. This was achieved by (a) separating the elimination reaction from the addition reaction, (b) the use of Ba(OH)(2) as alkali reagent and (c) its further elimination by the simple addition of solid CO(2) to the peptide mixture. The Michael reaction was then performed, after the removal of BaCO(3) by centrifugation, by adding dithiothreitol (DTT) to the peptide mixture. Finally, the direct purification of the modified phosphopeptides was performed on a thiol-sepharose column. The availability of fully deuterated DTT, introducing a 6 Da difference with respect to the non-deuterated species, allows quantitation of the differential extent of signalling modification when analysed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The entire procedure has been set up by using bovine alpha-casein, and resulted in the identification of all the phosphorylated tryptic peptides, including the tetraphosphorylated peptides, which escaped all previously reported procedures
A previously unidentified glycoprotein present in the eggs of the carp ( Cyprinus carpio ) was isolated and structurally characterized. The protein binds to a Sepharose 4B matrix and can be eluted with 0.4 M N -acetylglucosamine. The protein has an apparent molecular mass of 26686.3 Da. On the basis of gel-filtration chromatography, the protein appears to be present in solution as a monomer. The sequence of its 238 amino acids, the position of its four disulphide bridges and the composition of its single N-linked carbohydrate chain were determined. The lectin shows a very low agglutinating activity for human A-type erythrocytes and interacts with both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. These latter interactions are inhibited by N -acetylglucosamine. A database search shows that its amino acid sequence is similar to that of the members of an invertebrate lectin family that includes tachylectin-1. Tachylectin-1 is present in the amoebocytes of the horseshoe crab, Tachypleus tridentatus, and plays a role in the innate defence system of this species. Homologous genes are also present in other fish, having 85% identity with a gene expressed in the oocytes of the crucian carp ( Carassius auratus gibelio ) and 78% identity with a gene in the cDNA library of the zebrafish ( Danio rerio ).
Par j 2.0101, a major allergen of the Parietaria judaica pollen, was expressed in E. coli, purified to homogeneity and fully characterised both at the structural and the functional level. The recombinant rPar j 2.0101 protein showed an allergenic activity in histamine release, skin prick tests and capacity to bind IgE, almost identical to that of the native allergens purified from aqueous pollen extract. The complete pattern of S-S bridges of rPar j 2.0101 was determined by enzymatic digestion with endoproteinase Lys-C followed by mass spectrometric analysis of the resulting peptide mixtures. The eight cysteines occurring in the allergenic protein were found to be paired into the following four disulphides: Cys35-Cys83, Cys45-Cys60, Cys61-Cys106 and Cys81-Cys121. This structural information probes Par j 2.0101 to attain a 3-D fold consistent with that of the non-specific lipid transfer protein (ns-LTP) family and it represents an effective molecular basis to develop modified antigens by selective site-directed mutagenesis for immunotherapy.
This paper describes the cloning of the genes coding for each component of the complex of toluene/o-xylene monooxygenase from Pseudomonas stutzeri OX1, their expression, purification and characterization. Moreover, the reconstitution of the active complex from the recombinant subunits has been obtained, and the functional role of each component in the electron transfer from the electron donor to molecular oxygen has been determined. The coexpression of subunits B, E and A leads to the formation of a subcomplex, named H, with a quaternary structure (BEA)2, endowed with hydroxylase activity. Tomo F component is an NADH oxidoreductase. The purified enzyme contains about 1 mol of FAD, 2 mol of iron, and 2 mol of acid labile sulfide per mol of protein, as expected for the presence of one [2Fe-2S] cluster, and exhibits a typical flavodoxin absorption spectrum. Interestingly, the sequence of the protein does not correspond to that previously predicted on the basis of DNA sequence. We have shown that this depends on minor errors in the gene sequence that we have corrected. C component is a Rieske-type ferredoxin, whose iron and acid labile sulfide content is in agreement with the presence of one [2Fe-2S] cluster. The cluster is very sensitive to oxygen damage. Mixtures of the subcomplex H and of the subunits F, C and D are able to oxidize p-cresol into 4-methylcathecol, thus demonstrating the full functionality of the recombinant subunits as purified. Finally, experimental evidence is reported which strongly support a model for the electron transfer. Subunit F is the first member of an electron transport chain which transfers electrons from NADH to C, which tunnels them to H subcomplex, and eventually to molecular oxygen.