A computational analysis of S-(2-succino)cysteine sites in proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Feb;1864(2):211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Nov 14.


The adduction of fumaric acid to the sulfhydryl group of certain cysteine (Cys) residues in proteins via a Michael-like reaction leads to the formation of S-(2-succino)cysteine (2SC) sites. Although its role remains to be fully understood, this post-translational Cys modification (protein succination) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes/obesity and fumarate hydratase-related diseases. In this study, theoretical approaches to address sequence- and 3D-structure-based features possibly underlying the specificity of protein succination have been applied to perform the first analysis of the available data on the succinate proteome. A total of 182 succinated proteins, 205 modifiable, and 1750 non-modifiable sites have been examined. The rate of 2SC sites per protein ranged from 1 to 3, and the overall relative abundance of modifiable sites was 10.8%. Modifiable and non-modifiable sites were not distinguishable when the hydrophobicity of the Cys-flaking peptides, the acid dissociation constant value of the sulfhydryl groups, and the secondary structure of the Cys-containing segments were compared. By contrast, significant differences were determined when the accessibility of the sulphur atoms and the amino acid composition of the Cys-flaking peptides were analysed. Based on these findings, a sequence-based score function has been evaluated as a descriptor for Cys residues. In conclusion, our results indicate that modifiable and non-modifiable sites form heterogeneous subsets when features often discussed to describe Cys reactivity are examined. However, they also suggest that some differences exist, which may constitute the baseline for further investigations aimed at the development of predictive methods for 2SC sites in proteins.

Keywords: Cysteine reactivity; Fumaric acid; Protein succination; S-(2-succino)cysteine sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Amino Acids / genetics
  • Computational Biology
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Cysteine / genetics
  • Fumarates / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / genetics*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteome*
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Succinates / chemistry


  • Amino Acids
  • Fumarates
  • Proteins
  • Proteome
  • S-(2-succinyl)cysteine
  • Succinates
  • fumaric acid
  • Cysteine