Combining fluorescence detection and mass spectrometric analysis for comprehensive and quantitative analysis of redox-sensitive cysteines in native membrane proteins

Evgeniy V. Petrotchenko, Dan Pasek, Phillip Elms, Nikolay V. Dokholyan, Gerhard Meissner, Christoph H. Borchers

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25 Scopus citations


Monobromobimane (MBB) is a lipophilic reagent that selectively modifies free cysteine residues in proteins. Because of its lipophilic character, MBB is capable of labeling cysteine residues in membrane proteins under native conditions. Reaction of MBB with the sulfhydryl groups of free cysteines leads to formation of highly fluorescent derivatives. Here we describe a procedure for the detection and relative quantitation of MBB-labeled cysteines using fluorescence and mass spectrometric analyses, which allow determination of free cysteine content and unambiguous identification of MBB-modified cysteine residues. We have applied this approach to the analysis of the free and redox-sensitive cysteine residues of a large membrane protein, the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release channel with a molecular mass of 2.2 million Da. Labeling was performed under physiologic conditions where the channel complex is in its native environment and is functionally active. The purified MBB-labeled channel complex was enzymatically digested, and the resulting peptides were separated by reversed-phase high-performance chromatography. MBB-labeled peptides were detected by fluorescence and identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) mass spectrometry. Under MALDI conditions, partial photolytic fragmentation of the MBB-peptide bound occurred, thus allowing convenient screening for the MBB-modified peptides in the MS spectrum by detection of the specific mass increment of 190.07 Da for MBB-modified cysteine residues. Modification of the peptides was further confirmed by tandem mass spectrometric analysis, utilizing sequencing information and the presence of the specific immonium ion for the MBB-modified cysteine residues at m/z 266.6. Quantitative information was obtained by comparison of both fluorescence and MS signal intensities of MBB-modified peptides. Combination of fluorescence with MS detection and analysis of MBB-labeled peptides supported by a customized software program provides a convenient method for identifying and quantifying redox-sensitive cysteines in membrane proteins of native biological systems. Identification of one redox-sensitive cysteine (2327) in the native membrane-bound sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release channel is described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7959-7966
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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