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Characterization of Prenylated C-terminal Peptides Using a Thiopropyl-based Capture Technique and LC-MS/MS.


Posttranslational modifications play a critical and diverse role in regulating cellular activities. Despite their fundamentally important role in cellular function, there has been no report to date of an effective generalized approach to the targeting, extraction, and characterization of the critical c-terminal regions of natively prenylated proteins. Various chemical modification and metabolic labeling strategies in cell culture have been reported. However, their applicability is limited to cell culture systems and does not allow for analysis of tissue samples. The chemical characteristics (hydrophobicity, low abundance, highly basic charge) of many of the c-terminal regions of prenylated proteins have impaired the use of standard proteomic workflows. In this context, we sought a direct approach to the problem in order to examine these proteins in tissue without the use of labeling. Here we demonstrate that prenylated proteins can be captured on chromatographic resins functionalized with mixed disulfide functions. Protease treatment of resin-bound proteins using chymotryptic digestion revealed peptides from many known prenylated proteins. Exposure of the protease-treated resin to reducing agents and hydro organic mixtures released c-terminal peptides with intact prenyl groups along with other enzymatic modifications expected in this protein family. Database and search parameters were selected to allow for c-terminal modifications unique to these molecules such as CAAX box processing and c-terminal methylation. In summary, we present a direct approach to enrich and obtain information at a molecular level of detail about prenylation of proteins from tissue and cell extracts using high-performance LC-MS without the need for metabolic labeling and derivatization.

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