Collagen is the most abundant protein in animals. Its prevalent 4-hydroxyproline residues contribute greatly to its conformational stability. The hydroxyl groups arise from a post-translational modification catalyzed by the nonheme iron-dependent enzyme, collagen prolyl 4-hydroxylase (P4H). Here, we report that 4-oxo-5,6-epoxyhexanoate, a mimic of the α-ketoglutarate co-substrate, inactivates human P4H. The inactivation installs a ketone functionality in P4H, providing a handle for proteomic experiments. Caenorhabditis elegans exposed to the esterified epoxy ketone displays the phenotype of a worm lacking P4H. Thus, this affinity label can be used to mediate collagen stability in an animal, as is desirable in the treatment of a variety of fibrotic diseases.
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