Identification of subdomain IB in human serum albumin as a major binding site for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon epoxides

Per Brunmark, Shawn Harriman, Paul L. Skipper, John S. Wishnok, Shantu Amin, Steven R. Tannenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Covalent adducts between serum albumin and low molecular weight organic electrophiles are formed with a high degree of regioselectivity mostly for nucleophilic amino acid residues located in subdomains IIA and IIIA. Previous studies have indicated that diol epoxide metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) may target residues in a different subdomain. The regioselectivity of PAH epoxide and diol epoxide binding was examined in this study by reaction of human serum albumin in vitro with the racemic trans,anti-isomers of 7,8-dihydrobenzo[α]pyrene-7,8-diol 9,10-epoxide (1), 2,3-dihydrofluoranthene-2,3-diol 1,10b-epoxide (2), 1,2-dihydrochrysene-1,2- diol 3,4-epoxide (5), 6-methyl-1,2-dihydrochrysene-1,2-diol 3,4-epoxide (6), 5-methyl-1,2-dihydrochrysene-1,2-diol 3,4-epoxide (7), 3,4-dihydrobenzo- [c]phenanthrene-3,4-diol 1,2-epoxide (8), 11,12-dihydrobenzo[g]chrysene- 11,12-diol 13,14-epoxide (9), and 11,12-dihydrodibenzo[α,l]pyrene-11,12- diol 13,14-epoxide (10) and the racemic epoxides cyclopenta[cd]pyrene 3,4- epoxide (3) and benzo[α]pyrene 4,5-epoxide (4) followed by determination of the linkage site. Adducted albumin was digested enzymatically, and digests were chromatographed by reversed-phase HPLC to purify peptide adducts, which were analyzed by electrospray ionization collision-induced dissociation (CID) tandem mass spectrometry. Product ion spectra revealed that adducts fragmented predominantly by cleavage of the peptide-PAH bond with retention of charge by the peptide as well as by the hydrocarbon. Peptide sequences were determined by MS/MS analysis of the peptide ions formed by in-source CID to cleave the adduct bond. Longer peptide sequences established site selectivity by virtue of their uniqueness, while shorter sequences revealed the reactant amino acid within the site. Epoxide 4 and diol epoxides 1, 2, 5, and 6 reacted predominantly with His146; epoxide 3 and diol epoxides 7-9 reacted predominantly with Lys137. Both residues are situated in subdomain IB. The binding site for 10 could not be determined uniquely, but one of the several possibilities was Lys159, which is also located in subdomain IB. The results, taken together with previous findings, demonstrate that the reaction of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon epoxides with human serum albumin is highly selective for a small number of residues in subdomain IB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-886
Number of pages7
JournalChemical research in toxicology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology


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