Higher-Order Structure Influences the Kinetics of Diethylpyrocarbonate Covalent Labeling of Proteins.
ABSTRACT: The combination of covalent labeling (CL) and mass spectrometry (MS) has emerged as a useful tool for studying protein structure due to its good structural coverage, the ability to study proteins in mixtures, and its high sensitivity. Diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) is an effective CL reagent that can label N-termini and the side chains of several nucleophilic residues, providing information for about 30% of the residues in the average protein. For DEPC to provide accurate structural information, the extent of labeling must be controlled to minimize label-induced structural perturbations. In this work, we establish a quantitative correlation between general protein structural factors and DEPC reaction rates by measuring the reaction rate coefficients for several model proteins. Using principal component and regression analyses, we find that the solvent accessible surface areas of histidine and lysine residues in proteins are the primary factors that determine a protein's reactivity toward DEPC, despite the fact that other more abundant residues, such as tyrosine, threonine, and serine, are also labeled by DEPC. From the statistical analysis, a model emerges that can be used to predict the reactivity of a protein based on its structure and sequence, allowing the optimal DEPC concentration to be chosen for a given protein. The resulting model is supported by cross-validation studies and by accurately predicting of the reactivity of five test proteins. Overall, our model reveals interesting insight into the reactivity of proteins with DEPC, and it will facilitate identification of optimal DEPC labeling conditions for proteins.
Project description:Covalent labeling with mass spectrometry is increasingly being used for the structural analysis of proteins. Diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) is a simple to use, commercially available covalent labeling reagent that can readily react with a range of nucleophilic residues in proteins. We find that in intact proteins weakly nucleophilic side chains (Ser, Thr, and Tyr) can be modified by DEPC in addition to other residues such as His, Lys, and Cys, providing very good structural resolution. We hypothesize that the microenvironment around these side chains, as formed by a protein's higher order structure, tunes their reactivity such that they can be labeled. To test this hypothesis, we compare DEPC labeling reactivity of Ser, Thr, and Tyr residues in intact proteins with peptide fragments from the same proteins. Results indicate that these residues almost never react with DEPC in free peptides, supporting the hypothesis that a protein's local microenvironment tunes the reactivity of these residues. From a close examination of the structural features near the reactive residues, we find that nearby hydrophobic residues are essential, suggesting that the enhanced reactivity of certain Ser, Thr, and Tyr residues occurs due to higher local concentrations of DEPC.
Project description:Protein therapeutics are rapidly transforming the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike for small molecule therapeutics, current technologies are challenged to provide the rapid, high-resolution analyses of protein higher order structures needed to ensure drug efficacy and safety. Consequently, significant attention has turned to developing new methods that can quickly, accurately, and reproducibly characterize the three-dimensional structure of protein therapeutics. In this work, we describe a method that uses diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) labeling and mass spectrometry to detect three-dimensional structural changes in therapeutic proteins that have been exposed to degrading conditions. Using ?2-microglobulin, immunoglobulin G1, and human growth hormone as model systems, we demonstrate that DEPC labeling can identify both specific protein regions that mediate aggregation and those regions that undergo more subtle structural changes upon mishandling of these proteins. Importantly, DEPC labeling is able to provide information for up to 30% of the surface residues in a given protein, thereby providing excellent structural resolution. Given the simplicity of the DEPC labeling chemistry and the relatively straightforward mass spectral analysis of DEPC-labeled proteins, we expect this method should be amenable to a wide range of protein therapeutics and their different formulations.
Project description:Covalent labeling and mass spectrometry are seeing increased use together as a way to obtain insight into the 3-dimensional structure of proteins and protein complexes. Several amino acid specific (e.g., diethylpyrocarbonate) and non-specific (e.g., hydroxyl radicals) labeling reagents are available for this purpose. Diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) is a promising labeling reagent because it can potentially probe up to 30% of the residues in the average protein and gives only one reaction product, thereby facilitating mass spectrometric analysis. It was recently reported, though, that DEPC modifications are labile for some amino acids. Here, we show that label loss is more significant and widespread than previously thought, especially for Ser, Thr, Tyr, and His residues, when relatively long protein digestion times are used. Such label loss ultimately decreases the amount of protein structural information that is obtainable with this reagent. We find, however, that the number of DEPC modified residues and, thus, protein structural information, can be significantly increased by decreasing the time between the covalent labeling reaction and the mass spectrometric analysis. This is most effectively accomplished using short (e.g., 2 h) proteolytic digestions with enzymes such as immobilized chymotrypsin or Glu-C rather than using methods (e.g., microwave or ultrasonic irradiation) that accelerate proteolysis in other ways. Using short digestion times, we show that the percentage of solvent accessible residues that can be modified by DEPC increases from 44% to 67% for cytochrome c, 35% to 81% for myoglobin, and 76% to 95% for ?-2-microglobulin. In effect, these increased numbers of modified residues improve the protein structural resolution available from this covalent labeling method. Compared with typical overnight digestion conditions, the short digestion times decrease the average distance between modified residues from 11 to 7 Å for myoglobin, 13 to 10 Å for cytochrome c, and 9 to 8 Å for ?-2-microglobulin.
Project description:The reliability and information content of diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) as a covalent probe of protein surface structure has been improved when used appropriately with mass spectrometric detection. Using myoglobin, cytochrome c, and beta-2-microglobulin as model protein systems, we demonstrate for the first time that DEPC can modify Ser and Thr residues in addition to His and Tyr residues. This result expands the capability of DEPC as a structural probe because about 25% of the sequence of the average protein can now be covered using this covalent labeling reagent. In addition, we establish a new approach based on mass spectrometry to ensure the structural integrity of proteins during amino acid-specific covalent labeling reactions. This approach involves monitoring the extent of modification as a function of reagent concentration and allows any small-scale or local perturbations caused by the covalent label to be readily identified and avoided. Results indicate that these dose-response plots are much more reliable and generally applicable probes of possible protein structural changes than fluorescence or circular dichroism spectroscopies. These dose-response plots also provide a means of quantitatively comparing the reactivity of each modified residue. On the basis of comparisons to known X-ray crystal structures, we find that the solvent accessibility of the reactive atom in the side chain and the presence of a nearby charged residue most affect modification rates. Finally, this improved surface mapping method has been used to determine the effect of Cu(II) binding on the structure of beta-2-microglobulin. Results confirm that Cu(II) binds His31, but not any of the other three His residues, and changes the solvent accessibility of residues near His31 and near the N-terminus.
Project description:Covalent labeling along with mass spectrometry is a method that is increasingly used to study protein structure. Recently, it has been shown that diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) is a powerful labeling reagent because it can modify up to 30% of the residues in the average protein, including the N-terminus, His, Lys, Tyr, Ser, Thr, and Cys residues. We recently discovered, however, that Cys residues that form disulfide bonds appear to be modified by DEPC as well. In this work, we demonstrate that disulfide linked Cys residues are not actually reactive with DEPC but, instead, once reduced, free Cys residues can capture a carbethoxy group from other modified amino acids via a solution-phase reaction that can occur during the protein digestion step. This "scrambling" of carbethoxy groups decreases the amount of modification observed at other residues and can potentially provide incorrect protein structural information. Fortunately, label scrambling can be completely avoided by alkylating the free thiols after disulfide reduction.
Project description:Monoclonal antibodies are among the fastest growing therapeutics in the pharmaceutical industry. Detecting higher-order structure changes of antibodies upon storage or mishandling, however, is a challenging problem. In this study, we describe the use of diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC)-based covalent labeling (CL) - mass spectrometry (MS) to detect conformational changes caused by heat stress, using rituximab as a model system. The structural resolution obtained from DEPC CL-MS is high enough to probe subtle conformation changes that are not detectable by common biophysical techniques. Results demonstrate that DEPC CL-MS can detect and identify sites of conformational changes at the temperatures below the antibody melting temperature (e.g., 55 ?C). The observed labeling changes at lower temperatures are validated by activity assays that indicate changes in the F<sub>ab</sub> region. At higher temperatures (e.g., 65 ?C), conformational changes and aggregation sites are identified from changes in CL levels, and these results are confirmed by complementary biophysical and activity measurements. Given the sensitivity and simplicity of DEPC CL-MS, this method should be amenable to the structural investigations of other antibody therapeutics.
Project description:Covalent labeling along with mass spectrometry is finding more use as a means of studying the higher order structure of proteins and protein complexes. Diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) is an increasingly used reagent for these labeling experiments because it is capable of modifying multiple residues at the same time. Pinpointing DEPC-labeled sites on proteins is typically needed to obtain more resolved structural information, and tandem mass spectrometry after protein proteolysis is often used for this purpose. In this work, we demonstrate that in certain instances, scrambling of the DEPC label from one residue to another can occur during collision-induced dissociation (CID) of labeled peptide ions, resulting in ambiguity in label site identity. From a preliminary study of over 30 labeled peptides, we find that scrambling occurs in about 25% of the peptides and most commonly occurs when histidine residues are labeled. Moreover, this scrambling appears to occur more readily under non-mobile proton conditions, meaning that low charge-state peptide ions are more prone to this reaction. For all peptides, we find that scrambling does not occur during electron transfer dissociation, which suggests that this dissociation technique is a safe alternative to CID for correct label site identification.
Project description:Using mass spectrometry (MS) to obtain information about a higher order structure of protein requires that a protein's structural properties are encoded into the mass of that protein. Covalent labeling (CL) with reagents that can irreversibly modify solvent accessible amino acid side chains is an effective way to encode structural information into the mass of a protein, as this information can be read-out in a straightforward manner using standard MS-based proteomics techniques. The differential reactivity of proteins under two or more conditions can be used to distinguish protein topologies, conformations, and/or binding sites. CL-MS methods have been effectively used for the structural analysis of proteins and protein complexes, particularly for systems that are difficult to study by other more traditional biochemical techniques. This review provides an overview of the non-specific CL approaches that have been combined with MS with a particular emphasis on the reagents that are commonly used, including hydroxyl radicals, carbenes, and diethylpyrocarbonate. We describe the reagent and protein factors that affect the reactivity of amino acid side chains. We also include details about experimental design and workflow, data analysis, recent applications, and some future prospects of CL-MS methods.
Project description:Reaction of human GSH transferase P1-1 (GSTP1-1) with diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC) at pH 7.0 and 4 degrees C resulted in covalent modification of an equivalent of one histidine and one tyrosine residue per subunit, with loss of activity. Sequence analysis showed that His-71 and Tyr-7 were modified. Reference to the three-dimensional structure of GSTP1-1 [Reinemer, Dirr, Ladenstein, Huber, Lo Bello, Frederici and Parker (1992) J. Mol. Biol. 227, 214-226] shows that the modification of Tyr-7 is most likely to affect enzyme activity. Kinetic analysis of the DEPC modification of Tyr-7 in GSTP1-1 gave a k2 approx. 150 times that of a peptide comprising residues 1-11 of GSTP1-1. The reaction of Tyr-7 of GSTP1-1 with DEPC was poorly inhibited by 1 mM GSH (14%) or 10 microM S-hexylglutathione (18%). DEPC treatment of the enzyme altered the absorbance at 290 nm in second-derivative spectra, suggesting that a significant amount of tyrosinate ion occurs in the enzyme. GSH, however, did not significantly alter the A290. The data provide the first evidence of unusual chemical reactivity of Tyr-7 and are consistent with its proposed role as a proton acceptor during catalysis.
Project description:Early stage oligomer formation of the huntingtin protein may be driven by self-association of the 17-residue amphipathic ?-helix at the protein's N-terminus (Nt17). Oligomeric structures have been implicated in neuronal toxicity and may represent important neurotoxic species in Huntington's disease. Therefore, a residue-specific structural characterization of Nt17 is crucial to understanding and potentially inhibiting oligomer formation. Native electrospray ion mobility spectrometry-mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) techniques and molecular dynamics simulations (MDS) have been applied to study coexisting monomer and multimer conformations of Nt17, independent of the remainder of huntingtin exon 1. MDS suggests gas-phase monomer ion structures comprise a helix-turn-coil configuration and a helix-extended-coil region. Elongated dimer species comprise partially helical monomers arranged in an antiparallel geometry. This stacked helical bundle may represent the earliest stages of Nt17-driven oligomer formation. Nt17 monomers and multimers have been further probed using diethylpyrocarbonate (DEPC). An N-terminal site (N-terminus of Threonine-3) and Lysine-6 are modified at higher DEPC concentrations, which led to the formation of an intermediate monomer structure. These modifications resulted in decreased extended monomer ion conformers, as well as a reduction in multimer formation. From the MDS experiments for the dimer ions, Lys6 residues in both monomer constituents interact with Ser16 and Glu12 residues on adjacent peptides; therefore, the decrease in multimer formation could result from disruption of these or similar interactions. This work provides a structurally selective model from which to study Nt17 self-association and provides critical insight toward Nt17 multimerization and, possibly, the early stages of huntingtin exon 1 aggregation.