Elevated blood levels of homocysteine (Hcy), hyperhomocysteinemia or homocystinuria, have been associated with various diseases and conditions. Homocysteine thiolactone (Hcy TL) is a metabolite of Hcy and reacts with amine groups in proteins to form stable amides, homocystamides, or N-homocysteinylated proteins. It has been proposed that protein N-homocysteinylation contributes to the cytotoxicity of elevated Hcy. Due to its heterogeneity and relatively low abundance, detection of this posttranslational modification remains challenging. On the other hand, the γ-aminothiol group in homocystamides imparts different chemical reactivities than the native proteins. Under mildly acidic conditions, γ-aminothiols irreversibly and stoichiometrically react with aldehydes to form stable 1,3-thiazines, whereas the reversible Schiff base formation between aldehydes and amino groups in native proteins is markedly disfavored due to protonation of amines. As such, we have developed highly selective chemical methods to derivatize N-homocysteinylated proteins with various aldehyde tags, thereby facilitating the subsequent analyses. For instance, fluorescent or biotin tagging coupled with gel electrophoresis permits quantification and global profiling of complex biological samples, such as hemoglobin and plasma from rat, mouse and human; affinity enrichment with aldehyde resins drastically reduces sample complexity. In addition, different reactivities of lysine residues in hemoglobin toward Hcy TL were observed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry