An alkyne-aspirin chemical reporter for the detection of aspirin-dependent protein modification in living cells

J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Oct 2;135(39):14568-73. doi: 10.1021/ja408322b. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is widely used for the acute treatment of inflammation and the management of cardiovascular disease. More recently, it has also been shown to reduce the risk of a variety of cancers. The anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin in pain-relief, cardio-protection, and chemoprevention are well-known to result from the covalent inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes through nonenzymatic acetylation of key serine residues. However, any additional molecular mechanisms that may contribute to the beneficial effects of aspirin remain poorly defined. Interestingly, studies over the past 50 years using radiolabeled aspirin demonstrated that other proteins are acetylated by aspirin and enrichment with antiacetyl-lysine antibodies identified 33 potential targets of aspirin-dependent acetylation. Herein we describe the development of an alkyne-modified aspirin analogue (AspAlk) as a chemical reporters of aspirin-dependent acetylation in living cells. When combined with the Cu(I)-catalyzed [3 + 2] azide-alkyne cycloaddition, this chemical reporter allowed for the robust in-gel fluorescent detection of acetylation and the subsequent enrichment and identification of 120 proteins, 112 of which have not been previously reported to be acetylated by aspirin in cellular or in vivo contexts. Finally, AspAlk was shown to modify the core histone proteins, implicating aspirin as a potential chemical-regulator of transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects*
  • Alkynes / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Aspirin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspirin / pharmacology*
  • Azides / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fluorescent Dyes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Alkynes
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Azides
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Proteins
  • Aspirin