Identification of endogenous phosphorylation sites of bovine medium and low molecular weight neurofilament proteins by tandem mass spectrometry

Biochemistry. 2004 Feb 24;43(7):2091-105. doi: 10.1021/bi030196q.


Neurofilament proteins (NFP) are intermediate filaments found in the neuronal cytoskeleton. They are highly phosphorylated, a condition that is believed to be responsible for the assembly and stability of the filaments. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) shows molecular masses for bovine NFP subunits of 63, 105, and 125 kDa for NFL, NFM, and NFH. Mass spectrometric de novo sequencing was used to determine the N-terminal sequence of bovine NFM (115 amino acids), which was previously unknown. Molecular mass information shows that there is one-half equivalent phosphate group on NFL and 24 on NFM. For the first time, it is shown that bovine NFL has three phosphorylation sites (Ser(55), Ser(66), and Ser(472)) and NFM has 22 (Ser(512), Ser(546), Ser(554), Ser(560), Thr(627), Ser(629), Ser(634), Ser(639), Thr(646), Ser(649), Ser(654), Ser(664), Ser(669), Thr(676), Ser(679), Ser(684), Ser(694), Ser(726), Ser(750), Ser(756), Ser(770), and Ser(846)) and two tentative sites (Ser(659)/Thr(661) and Thr(840)). Ser(66) was previously not known to be phosphorylated in NFL of other species, while two sites (Ser(55) and Ser(472)) are consistent with the phosphorylations observed in other mammalian NFLs. The three sites, Ser(55), Ser(66), Ser(472), are heterogeneously phosphorylated. Phosphorylation in bovine NFM occurs mainly in the Lys-Ser-Pro (KSP) region, but the Val-Ser-Pro and Ser-Glu-Lys motifs are also phosphorylated. Most of the phosphorylation sites are in accordance with those previously identified in other mammalian NFMs. In bovine NFM, 16 out of the 22 sites are always phosphorylated (Ser(512), Thr(627), Ser(629), Ser(634), Ser(639), Thr(646), Ser(649), Ser(654), Ser(664), Ser(669), Thr(676), Ser(679), Ser(684), Ser(694), Ser(726), and Ser(750)), all of which are contained in the KSP region, and six are sometimes phosphorylated (Ser(546), Ser(554), Ser(560), Ser(756), Ser(770), and Ser(846)). The NFPs have other modifications, including deamidation, oxidation, and N-terminal acetylation. Pyroglutamic acid formation also occurs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Weight
  • Neurofilament Proteins / chemistry*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / isolation & purification
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / isolation & purification
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein* / methods
  • Serine / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Threonine / chemistry


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Subunits
  • Threonine
  • Serine