Synaptic protein ubiquitination in rat brain revealed by antibody-based ubiquitome analysis

J Proteome Res. 2012 Sep 7;11(9):4722-32. doi: 10.1021/pr300536k. Epub 2012 Aug 15.


Protein ubiquitination is an essential post-translational modification regulating neurodevelopment, synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory, and its dysregulation contributes to the pathogenesis of neurological diseases. Here we report a systematic analysis of ubiquitinated proteome (ubiquitome) in rat brain using a newly developed monoclonal antibody that recognizes the diglycine tag on lysine residues in trypsinized peptides (K-GG peptides). Initial antibody specificity analysis showed that the antibody can distinguish K-GG peptides from linear GG peptides or pseudo K-GG peptides derived from iodoacetamide. To evaluate the false discovery rate of K-GG peptide matches during database search, we introduced a null experiment using bacterial lysate that contains no such peptides. The brain ubiquitome was then analyzed by this antibody enrichment with or without strong cation exchange (SCX) prefractionation. During SCX chromatography, although the vast majority of K-GG peptides were detected in the fractions containing at least three positive charged peptides, specific K-GG peptides with two positive charges (e.g., protein N-terminal acetylated and C-terminal non-K/R peptides) were also identified in early fractions. The reliability of C-terminal K-GG peptides was also extensively investigated. Finally, we collected a data set of 1786 K-GG sites on 2064 peptides in 921 proteins and estimated their abundance by spectral counting. The study reveals a wide range of ubiquitination events on key components in presynaptic region (e.g., Bassoon, NSF, SNAP25, synapsin, synaptotagmin, and syntaxin) and postsynaptic density (e.g., PSD-95, GKAP, CaMKII, as well as receptors for NMDA, AMPA, GABA, serotonin, and acetylcholine). We also determined ubiquitination sites on amyloid precursor protein and alpha synuclein that are thought to be causative agents in Alzhermer's and Parkinson's disorders, respectively. As K-GG peptides can also be produced from Nedd8 or ISG15 modified proteins, we quantified these proteins in the brain and found that their levels are less than 2% of ubiquitin. Together, this study demonstrates that a large number of neuronal proteins are modified by ubiquitination and provides a feasible method for profiling the ubiquitome in the brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Antibodies / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Chromatography, Ion Exchange
  • Databases, Protein
  • Iodoacetamide
  • Lysine / chemistry
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteome / chemistry
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Rats
  • Synapses
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Ubiquitin / chemistry
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / analysis*
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / chemistry
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination


  • Antibodies
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Proteome
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ubiquitinated Proteins
  • Lysine
  • Iodoacetamide