The Birt-Hogg-Dube disease occurs as a result of germline mutations in the human Folliculin gene (FLCN), and is characterized by clinical features including fibrofolliculomas, lung cysts and multifocal renal neoplasia. Clinical and genetic evidence suggest that FLCN acts as a tumor suppressor gene. The human cell line UOK257, derived from the renal cell carcinoma of a patient with a germline mutation in the FLCN gene, harbors a truncated version of the FLCN protein. Reconstitution of the wild type FLCN protein into UOK257 cells delays cell cycle progression, due to a slower progression through the late S and G2/M-phases. Similarly, Flcn–/– mouse embryonic fibroblasts progress more rapidly through the cell cycle than wild type controls (Flcnflox/flox). The reintroduction of tumor-associated FLCN mutants (FLCN ΔF157, FLCN 1–469 or FLCN K508R) fails to delay cell cycle progression in UOK257 cells. Additionally, FLCN phosphorylation (on Serines 62 and 73) fluctuates throughout the cell cycle and peaks during the G2/M phase in cells treated with nocodazole. In keeping with this observation, the reintroduction of a FLCN phosphomimetic mutant into the UOK257 cell line results in faster progression through the cell cycle compared to those expressing the wild type FLCN protein. These findings suggest that the tumor suppression function of FLCN may be linked to its impact on the cell cycle and that FLCN phosphorylation is important for this activity. Additionally, these observations describe a novel in vitro assay for testing the functional significance of FLCN mutations and/or genetic polymorphisms.
Precise proteomic profiling of limited levels of disease tissue represents an extremely challenging task. Here, we present an effective and reproducible microproteomic workflow for sample sizes of only 10,000 cells that integrates selective sample procurement via laser capture microdissection (LCM), sample clean up and protein level fractionation using short-range SDS-PAGE, followed by ultrasensitive LC-MS/MS analysis using a 10 μm i.d. porous layer open tubular (PLOT) column. With 10,000 LCM captured mouse hepatocytes for method development and performance assessment, only 10% of the in-gel digest, equivalent to ~1000 cells, was needed per LC-MS/MS analysis. The optimized workflow was applied to the differential proteomic analysis of 10,000 LCM collected primary and metastatic breast cancer cells from the same patient. More than 1100 proteins were identified from each injection with >1700 proteins identified from three LCM samples of 10,000 cells from the same patient (1123 with at least two unique peptides). Label free quantitation (spectral counting) was performed to identify differential protein expression between the primary and metastatic cell populations. Informatics analysis of the resulting data indicated that vesicular transport and extracellular remodeling processes were significantly altered between the two cell types. The ability to extract meaningful biological information from limited, but highly informative cell populations demonstrates the significant benefits of the described microproteomic workflow.
microproteomics; porous layer open tubular column; laser capture microdissection; breast cancer; sample preparation; low cell numbers
Site-specific analysis of protein glycosylation is important for biochemical and clinical research efforts. Glycopeptide analysis using liquid chromatography - collision induced dissociation/electron transfer dissociation - mass spectrometry (LC-CID/ETD-MS) allows simultaneous characterization of glycan structure and attached peptide site. However, due to the low ionization efficiency of glycopeptides during electrospray ionization (ESI), 200–500 fmol of sample per injection is needed for a single LC-MS run, which makes it challenging for the analysis of limited amounts of glycoprotein purified from biological matrices. To improve the sensitivity of LC-MS analysis for glycopeptides, an ultra-narrow porous layer open tubular (PLOT) LC column (2.5 m × 10 μm i.d.) was coupled to a linear ion trap mass spectrometer (LTQ-CID/ETD-MS) to provide sensitive analysis of N-linked protein glycosylation heterogeneity. The potential of the developed method is demonstrated by the characterization of site-specific glycosylation using haptoglobin (Hpt) as a model protein. To limit the amount of haptoglobin to low pmole amounts of protein, we affinity purified it from 1 μL of pooled lung cancer patients plasma. A total of 26 glycoforms/glycan compositions on three Hpt tryptic glycopeptides were identified and quantified from 10 LC-MS runs with a consumption of 100 fmol Hpt digest (13 ng protein, 10 fmol per injection). Included in this analysis was the determination of the glycan occupancy level. At this sample consumption level, the high sensitivity of the PLOT LC-LTQ-CID/ETD-MS allowed glycopeptide identification and structure determination, along with relative quantitation of glycans presented on the same peptide backbone, even for low abundant glycopeptides at the ~100 attomole level. The PLOT LC-MS is shown to have sufficient sensitivity to allow characterization of site-specific protein glycosylation from trace levels of glycosylated proteins.
Consistent asymmetry of the left-right (LR) axis is a crucial aspect of vertebrate embryogenesis. Asymmetric gene expression of the TGFβ superfamily member Nodal related 1 (Nr1) in the left lateral mesoderm plate is a highly conserved step regulating the situs of the heart and viscera. In Xenopus, movement of maternal serotonin (5HT) through gap-junctional paths at cleavage stages dictates asymmetry upstream of Nr1. However, the mechanisms linking earlier biophysical asymmetries with this transcriptional control point are not known.
To understand how an early physiological gradient is transduced into a late, stable pattern of Nr1 expression we investigated epigenetic regulation during LR patterning. Embryos injected with mRNA encoding a dominant-negative of Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) lacked Nr1 expression and exhibited randomized sidedness of the heart and viscera (heterotaxia) at stage 45. Timing analysis using pharmacological blockade of HDACs implicated cleavage stages as the active period. Inhibition during these early stages was correlated with an absence of Nr1 expression at stage 21, high levels of heterotaxia at stage 45, and the deposition of the epigenetic marker H3K4me2 on the Nr1 gene. To link the epigenetic machinery to the 5HT signaling pathway, we performed a high-throughput proteomic screen for novel cytoplasmic 5HT partners associated with the epigenetic machinery. The data identified the known HDAC partner protein Mad3 as a 5HT-binding regulator. While Mad3 overexpression led to an absence of Nr1 transcription and randomized the LR axis, a mutant form of Mad3 lacking 5HT binding sites was not able to induce heterotaxia, showing that Mad3's biological activity is dependent on 5HT binding.
HDAC activity is a new LR determinant controlling the epigenetic state of Nr1 from early developmental stages. The HDAC binding partner Mad3 may be a new serotonin-dependent regulator of asymmetry linking early physiological asymmetries to stable changes in gene expression during organogenesis.
Xenopus; left-right asymmetry; laterality; Nodal; HDAC
Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is a high resolution separation technique broadly used in the biotechnology industry for carbohydrate analysis. The standard sample preparation protocol for CE analysis of glycans released from glycoproteins generally requires derivatization times of overnight at 37°C, using ≥100 fold excess of fluorophore reagent, 8-aminopyrene-1,3,6-trisulfonic-acid (APTS), if the sample is unknown, or it is a regulated biotherapeutic product, possibly containing terminal sialic acid(s). In this paper, we report on significant improvements for the standard CE sample preparation method of glycan analysis. By replacing the conventionally used acetic acid catalyst with citric acid, as low as 1 : 10 glycan to fluorophore molar ratio (vs the typical 1 : ≥100 ratio) maintained the >95% derivatization yield at 55°C with only 50 minutes reaction time. Terminal sialic acid loss was negligible at 55°C during the derivatization process, and thus the kinetics of labeling at 55°C was faster than the loss of sialic acid from the glycan. The reduced relative level of APTS simplified the removal of excess reagent, important in both CE-LIF (electrokinetic injection bias) and CE-MS (ion suppression). Coupling capillary electrophoresis to electrospray ionization mass spectrometry confirmed that the individual peaks separated by CE corresponded to single glycans and increased the confidence of structural assignment based on glucose unit values.
glycan analysis; fluorophore labeling; capillary electrophoresis
The proteolytic cleavage of TATp, TATp-PEG1000-PE conjugate (TATp-conjugate), and TATp as TATp-conjugate in mixed micelles made of TATp-conjugate and PEG5000-PE (2.5% mol of TATp-conjugate, TATp-Mic) were studied by HPLC with fluorescent detection using fluorenylmethyl chloroformate (FMOC) labeling and by MALDI-TOF MS analysis. The cleavage kinetics were analyzed in human blood plasma and in trypsin-containing phosphate buffered saline (PBS), pH 7.4, to simulate the proteolytic activity of human plasma. The trypsinolysis of free TATp, TATp-conjugate, and TATp-Mic revealed that the main initial fragmentation is an endocleavage at the carboxyl terminus resulting in an Arg-Arg (RR) dimer. The trypsinolysis followed pseudo-first-order kinetics. The cleavage of the free TATp was relatively fast with a half-life of a few minutes (t1/2 ∼ 3.5 min). The TATp-conjugate showed more stability with about a 3-fold increase in half-life (t1/2 ∼ 10 min). TATp in TATp-Mic was highly protected against proteolysis with an over 100-fold increase in half-life (t1/2 ∼ 430 min). The shielding of TATp by PEG moieties in the proposed TATp-Mic is of great importance for its potential use as a cell-penetrating moiety for multifunctional “smart” drug delivery systems with detachable PEG.
In this paper, we have examined two cysteine modifications resulting from sample preparation for protein characterization by MS: (1) a previously observed conversion of cysteine to dehydroalanine, now found in the case of disulfide mapping and (2) a novel modification corresponding to conversion of cysteine to alanine. Using model peptides, the conversion of cysteine to dehydroalanine via β-elimination of a disulfide bond was seen to result from the conditions of typical tryptic digestion (37 °C, pH 7.0– 9.0) without disulfide reduction and alkylation.. Furthermore, the surprising conversion of cysteine to alanine was shown to occur by heating cysteine containing peptides in the presence of a phosphine (TCEP). The formation of alanine from cysteine, investigated by performing experiments in H2O or D2O, suggested a radical-based desulfurization mechanism unrelated to β-elimination. Importantly, an understanding of the mechanism and conditions favorable for cysteine desulfurization provides insight for the establishment of improved sample preparation procedures of protein analysis.
Modern proteomic research frequently relies upon separation of proteins in a polyacrylamide gel matrix followed by in-gel enzymatic digestion and extraction of peptides for subsequent analysis by mass spectrometry. In this work, we propose a novel semi-automated method of mechanical processing of gel bands by passing these bands through a specially designed centrifugal device termed a Gel Shredder prior to digestion and extraction of peptides. Such a device allows integrated washing, destaining and shredding of gel bands into uniform blocks of controlled size, approximately 150–300 μm, prior to the enzymatic digestion and extraction of peptides. Shredding into uniform blocks increases the surface area of the gel pieces and promotes improved gel rehydration, allowing the proteolytic enzymes and solvent with improved penetration of the gel lattice. We demonstrate that the new method substantially reduces the time spent on tedious manual handling of gel bands, while minimizing the risk of sample contamination. The performance of the Gel Shredder has been compared to a conventional in-gel digestion protocol using several standard proteins and a complex proteomic sample in terms of relative quantitation by either MALDI-TOF/TOF or nanoLC-ESI ion trap-FTICR mass spectrometry. It is shown that significant time savings and improved peptide recovery can be obtained for many proteins using the Gel Shredder as compared to the traditional in-gel digestion protocol.
gel electrophoresis; proteomics; protein in-gel digestion; mass spectrometry; peptide recovery; centrifugal devices
This study expands the capabilities for ultratrace proteomic analysis of our previous work by incorporating on-line sample desalting using a triphasic (reversed phase (RP)/SCX/micro-SPE) trapping column connected to a 3.2 m × 10 μm i.d. poly(styrene-divinylbenzene) (PS-DVB) porous layer open tubular (PLOT) column. To minimize extra sample handling steps, C18 RP packing was incorporated in the capillary tubing upstream of the SCX column for the on-line desalting. For the micro-SPE column, a 50 μm i.d. PS-DVB monolithic column was positioned downstream of the SCX column. High performance separation was achieved on the PLOT column at a mobile phase flow rate of 20 nL/min. The sensitivity and high resolution capability of the new multidimensional platform was evaluated using an in-gel tryptic digested sample of a cervical cancer (SiHa) cell line. For the injected amount of 1200 cells (~500 ng), over 2700 peptides covering greater than 850 unique proteins were identified from the triphasic SCX/PLOT/MS analysis of a single SDS gel section (>40 kDa). The 2D LC/MS platform demonstrated good separation performance, such that more than 85% of the identified peptides were detected from only one salt fraction. In a triplicate analysis of the above >40 kDa gel section, 4497 peptides and 1209 unique proteins were identified when applying stringent filtering criteria, with a false positive rate of 2.4%. When all three SDS-PAGE gel sections of the lysed SiHa cells were analyzed, 5047 peptides (false positive rate 1.8%) and 1857 unique proteins, including cancer related proteins such as MAP kinases, were identified.
PLOT column; monolithic column; proteomics; multiple dimensional separations; ultranarrow bore LC column
The sensitivity of glycan analysis using nano-liquid chromatography interfaced with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) increases with the decrease of the mobile phase flow rate, accompanied by reduced ion suppression. In this study, we describe the preparation and performance of high efficiency 10 μm i.d. amine-bonded poly(vinylbenzyl chloride-divinylbenzene) hydrophilic interaction (HILIC) porous layer open tubular (PLOT) columns operated at 20 nL/min for the separation and analysis of glycan mixtures. HILIC-PLOT columns with a uniform porous polymer layer were reproducibly prepared (~4% RSD in retention time from column to column) via in-situ polymerization, followed by one step modification with ethylenediamine. When coupled on-line with negative ESI-MS, low detection limits (0.3 fmol) for a 3-sialyl-tetrasaccharide were achieved using a 2.5 m × 10 μm i.d. HILIC-PLOT column. A dextran ladder standard was used to evaluate the performance of the column, and high efficiency separation was achieved with detection of the dextrans up to G22 from ~50 fmol amounts injected. As an example of the high sensitivity of the column, MS6 characterization of glycan structures was possible from the injection of 10 fmol of a neutral and sialylated glycan. As another example of high sensitivity LC-MS analysis of 3 ng of a PNGase F digest of ovalbumin allowed 28 N-linked glycans to be confidently identified from a single analysis. High quality MS/MS spectra for each ovalbumin glycan were acquired and manually interpreted for structure analysis. The HILIC PLOT column is a very promising approach for LC-MS analysis of glycans at the ultratrace level.
Methanosarcina acetivorans strain C2A is an acetate- and methanol-utilizing methane-producing organism for which the genome, the largest yet sequenced among the Archaea, reveals extensive physiological diversity. LC linear ion trap-FTICR mass spectrometry was employed to analyze acetate- vs. methanol-grown cells metabolically labeled with 14N vs. 15N, respectively, to obtain quantitative protein abundance ratios. DNA microarray analyses of acetate- vs. methanol-grown cells was also performed to determine gene expression ratios. The combined approaches were highly complementary, extending the physiological understanding of growth and methanogenesis. Of the 1081 proteins detected, 255 were ≥ 3-fold differentially abundant. DNA microarray analysis revealed 410 genes that were ≥ 2.5-fold differentially expressed of 1972 genes with detected expression. The ratios of differentially abundant proteins were in good agreement with expression ratios of the encoding genes. Taken together, the results suggest several novel roles for electron transport components specific to acetate-grown cells, including two flavodoxins each specific for growth on acetate or methanol. Protein abundance ratios indicated that duplicate CO dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA complexes function in the conversion of acetate to methane. Surprisingly, the protein abundance and gene expression ratios indicated a general stress response in acetate- vs. methanol-grown cells that included enzymes specific for polyphosphate accumulation and oxidative stress. The microarray analysis identified transcripts of several genes encoding regulatory proteins with identity to the PhoU, MarR, GlnK, and TetR families commonly found in the Bacteria domain. An analysis of neighboring genes suggested roles in controlling phosphate metabolism (PhoU), ammonia assimilation (GlnK), and molybdopterin cofactor biosynthesis (TetR). Finally, the proteomic and microarray results suggested roles for two-component regulatory systems specific for each growth substrate.
Quantitative proteomics; metabolic labeling; microarray; methanogenesis; acetate; methanol
A new algorithm is described for label-free quantitation of relative protein abundances across multiple complex proteomic samples. Q-MEND is based on the denoising and peak picking algorithm, MEND, previously developed in our laboratory. Q-MEND takes advantage of the high resolution and mass accuracy of the hybrid LTQFT MS mass spectrometer (or other high resolution mass spectrometers, such as a Q-TOF MS). The strategy, termed “cross-assignment”, is introduced to increase substantially the number of quantitated proteins. In this approach, all MS/MS identifications for the set of analyzed samples are combined into a master ID list, and then each LC/MS run is searched for the features that can be assigned to a specific identification from that master list. The reliability of quantitation is enhanced by quantitating separately all peptide charge states, along with a scoring procedure to filter out less reliable peptide abundance measurements. The effectiveness of Q-MEND is illustrated in the relative quantitative analysis of E.coli samples spiked with known amounts of non-E.coli protein digests. A mean quantitation accuracy of 7% and mean precision of 15% is demonstrated. Q-MEND can perform relative quantitation of a set of LC/MS datasets without manual intervention and can generate files compatible with the Guidelines for Proteomic Data Publication.
While glycoproteins are abundant in nature, and changes in glycosylation occur in cancer and other diseases, glycoprotein characterization remains a challenge due to the structural complexity of the biopolymers. This paper presents a general strategy, termed GlyDB, for glycan structure annotation of N-linked glycopeptides from tandem mass spectra in the LC-MS analysis of proteolytic digests of glycoproteins. The GlyDB approach takes advantage of low-energy collision induced dissociation of N-linked glycopeptides that preferentially cleaves the glycosidic bonds while the peptide backbone remains intact. A theoretical glycan structure database derived from biosynthetic rules for N-linked glycans was constructed employing a novel representation of branched glycan structures consisting of multiple linear sequences. The commonly used peptide identification program, Sequest, could then be utilized to assign experimental tandem mass spectra to individual glycoforms. Analysis of synthetic glycopeptides and well-characterized glycoproteins demonstrate that the GlyDB approach can be a useful tool for annotation of glycan structures and for selection of a limited number of potential glycan structure candidates for targeted validation.
A novel computational approach, termed Search for Modified Peptides (SeMoP), for the unrestricted discovery and verification of peptide modifications in shotgun proteomic experiments using low resolution ion trap MS/MS spectra is presented. Various peptide modifications, including post-translational modifications, sequence polymorphisms, as well as sample handling-induced changes, can be identified using this approach. SeMoP utilizes a three-step strategy: (1) a standard database search to identify proteins in a sample; (2) an unrestricted search for modifications using a newly developed algorithm; and (3) a second standard database search targeted to specific modifications found using the unrestricted search. This targeted approach provides verification of discovered modifications and, due to increased sensitivity, a general increase in the number of peptides with the specific modification. The feasibility of the overall strategy has been first demonstrated in the analysis of 65 plasma proteins. Various sample handling induced modifications, such as β-elimination of disulfide bridges and pyrocarbamidomethylation, as well as biologically induced modifications, such as phosphorylation and methylation, have been detected. A subsequent targeted Sequest search has been used to verify selected modifications, and a 4-fold increase in the number of modified peptides was obtained. In a second application, 1367 proteins of a cervical cancer cell line were processed, leading to detection of several novel amino acid substitutions. By conducting the search against a database of peptides derived from proteins with decoy sequences, a false discovery rate of less than 5% for the unrestricted search resulted. SeMoP is shown to be an effective and easily implemented approach for the discovery and verification of peptide modifications.
mass spectrometry; post-translational modifications; unrestricted search; shotgun proteomics
Overexpression of the HipA protein of the HipBA toxin/antitoxin module leads to multidrug tolerance in Escherichia coli. HipA is a “toxin” that causes reversible dormancy, whereas HipB is an antitoxin that binds HipA and acts as a transcriptional repressor of the hipBA operon. Comparative sequence analysis shows that HipA is a member of the phosphatidylinositol 3/4-kinase superfamily. The kinase activity of HipA was examined. HipA was autophosphorylated in the presence of ATP in vitro, and the purified protein appeared to carry a single phosphate group on serine 150. Thus, HipA is a serine kinase that is at least partially phosphorylated in vivo. Overexpression of HipA caused inhibition of cell growth and increase in persister formation. Replacing conserved aspartate 309 in the conserved kinase active site or aspartate 332 in the Mg2+-binding site with glutamine produced mutant proteins that lost the ability to stop cellular growth upon overexpression. Replacing serine 150 with alanine yielded a similarly inactive protein. The mutant proteins were then examined for their ability to increase antibiotic tolerance. Cells overexpressing wild-type HipA were highly tolerant to cefotaxime, a cell wall synthesis inhibitor, to ofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone inhibitor of DNA gyrase, and to topoisomerase IV and were almost completely resistant to killing by mitomycin C, which forms DNA adducts. The mutant proteins did not protect cells from cefotaxime or ofloxacin and had an impaired ability to protect from mitomycin C. Taken together, these results suggest that the protein kinase activity of HipA is essential for persister formation.
A liquid chromatography-hybrid linear ion trap-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry approach was used to determine the differential abundance of proteins in acetate-grown cells compared to that of proteins in methanol-grown cells of the marine isolate Methanosarcina acetivorans metabolically labeled with 14N versus 15N. The 246 differentially abundant proteins in M. acetivorans were compared with the previously reported 240 differentially expressed genes of the freshwater isolate Methanosarcina mazei determined by transcriptional profiling of acetate-grown cells compared to methanol-grown cells. Profound differences were revealed for proteins involved in electron transport and energy conservation. Compared to methanol-grown cells, acetate-grown M. acetivorans synthesized greater amounts of subunits encoded in an eight-gene transcriptional unit homologous to operons encoding the ion-translocating Rnf electron transport complex previously characterized from the Bacteria domain. Combined with sequence and physiological analyses, these results suggest that M. acetivorans replaces the H2-evolving Ech hydrogenase complex of freshwater Methanosarcina species with the Rnf complex, which generates a transmembrane ion gradient for ATP synthesis. Compared to methanol-grown cells, acetate-grown M. acetivorans synthesized a greater abundance of proteins encoded in a seven-gene transcriptional unit annotated for the Mrp complex previously reported to function as a sodium/proton antiporter in the Bacteria domain. The differences reported here between M. acetivorans and M. mazei can be attributed to an adaptation of M. acetivorans to the marine environment.