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Sequence and Solution Effects on the Prevalence of d‑Isomers Produced by Deamidation


Deamidation of asparagine is a spontaneous and irreversible post-translational modification associated with a growing list of human diseases. While pervasive, deamidation is often overlooked because it represents a relatively minor chemical change. Structural and functional characterization of this modification is complicated because deamidation of asparagine yields four isomeric forms of Asp. Herein, radical directed dissociation (RDD), in conjunction with mass spectrometry, is used to identify and quantify all four isomers in a series of model peptides that were subjected to various deamidation conditions. Although primary sequence significantly influences the rate of deamidation, it has little impact on the relative proportions of the product isomers. Furthermore, the addition of ammonia can be used to increase the rate of deamidation without significantly perturbing isomer populations. Conversely, external factors such as buffer conditions and temperature alter product distributions but exhibit less dramatic effects on the deamidation rate. Strikingly, the common laboratory and biologically significant bicarbonate buffer is found to strongly promote racemization, yielding increased amounts of d-Asp and d-isoAsp. These outcomes following deamidation have broad implications in human aging and should be considered during the development of protein-based therapeutics.

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