Method to site-specifically identify and quantitate carbonyl end products of protein oxidation using oxidation-dependent element coded affinity tags (O-ECAT) and nanoliquid chromatography Fourier transform mass spectrometry

J Proteome Res. 2006 Mar;5(3):539-47. doi: 10.1021/pr050299q.


Protein oxidation is linked to cellular stress, aging, and disease. Protein oxidations that result in reactive species are of particular interest, since these reactive oxidation products may react with other proteins or biomolecules in an unmediated and irreversible fashion, providing a potential marker for a variety of disease mechanisms. We have developed a novel system to identify and quantitate, relative to other states, the sites of oxidation on a given protein. This presents a significant advancement over current methods, combining strengths of current methods and adding the abilities to multiplex, quantitate, and probe more modified amino acids. A specially designed Oxidation-dependent carbonyl-specific Element-Coded Affinity Mass Tag (O-ECAT), AOD, ((S)-2-(4-(2-aminooxy)-acetamido)-benzyl)-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N' ',N'''-tetraacetic acid, is used to covalently tag the residues of a protein oxidized to aldehyde or keto end products. O-ECAT can be loaded with a variety of metals, which yields the ability to generate mass pairs and multiplex multiple samples. The O-ECAT moiety also serves as a handle for identification, quantitation, and affinity purification. After proteolysis, the AOD-tagged peptides are affinity purified and analyzed by nanoLC-FTICR-MS (nanoliquid chromatography-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance-mass spectrometry), which provides high specificity in extracting coeluting AOD mass pairs with a unique mass difference and allows relative quantitation based on isotopic ratios. Using this methodology, we have quantified and mapped the surface oxidation sites on a model protein, recombinant human serum albumin (rHSA) in its native form (as purchased) and after FeEDTA oxidation both at the protein and amino acid levels. A variety of modified amino acid residues including lysine, arginine, proline, histidine, threonine, aspartic, and glutamic acids, were found to be oxidized to aldehyde and keto end products. The sensitivity of this methodology is shown by the number of peptides identified, twenty peptides on the native protein and twenty-nine after surface oxidation using FeEDTA and ascorbate. All identified peptides map to the surface of the HSA crystal structure, validating this method for identifying oxidized amino acids on protein surfaces. In relative quantitation experiments between FeEDTA oxidation and native protein oxidation, identified sites showed different relative propensities toward oxidation, independent of amino acid residue. This novel methodology not only has the ability to identify and quantitate oxidized proteins but also yields site-specific quantitation on a variety of individual amino acids. We expect to extend this methodology to study disease-related oxidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affinity Labels*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Crystallization
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nanotechnology / methods
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared*


  • Affinity Labels
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Proteins