Characterization of post-translational modifications in full-length human BMP-1 confirms the presence of a rare vicinal disulfide linkage in the catalytic domain and highlights novel features of the EGF domain

J Proteomics. 2016 Apr 14;138:136-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2016.02.031. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Bone morphogenetic protein 1 (BMP-1) is an essential metalloproteinase to trigger extracellular matrix assembly and organogenesis. Previous structural studies on the refolded catalytic domain of BMP-1 produced in E. coli have suggested the existence of a rare vicinal disulfide linkage near the active site. To confirm that this was not an artifact of the refolding procedure, the full-length human BMP-1 produced in mammalian cells was investigated via sequence-dependent enzyme cleavage under native conditions followed by high mass accuracy and high resolution LC-MS/MS analysis to interrogate the post-translational modifications. Ten disulfide linkages of BMP-1, including the vicinal disulfide linkage C185-C186 could be unambiguously identified. Further, around 50% of this vicinal disulfide bond was found to be modified by N-ethylmaleimide (NEM), a cysteine protease inhibitor supplied when the BMP-1-containing medium was collected, suggesting that this bond was highly unstable. In the absence of NEM, BMP-1 has a higher tendency to form aggregates, but after aggregate removal, C185 and C186 are almost quantitatively engaged in the vicinal disulfide bond and BMP-1 activity remains unchanged. In addition, three consensus N-glycosylation sites at N142, N363, and N599 could be identified together with a previously unknown O-glycosylation site and an Asn-hydroxylation.

Significance: An in-depth characterization of post-translational modifications of the full-length human BMP-1 produced in mammalian cells by MS was performed. A rare vicinal disulfide bond in the catalytic domain could be confirmed for the first time by mass spectrometry along with nine other proposed disulfide linkages of mature BMP-1. This vicinal disulfide bond can transiently open to form covalent adducts with the cysteine protease inhibitor (NEM) supplied in cell medium during protein harvesting. Further, we report a previously unknown O-glycosylation site and Asn-hydroxylation site, indicating a novel feature of BMP-1 in the EGF domain. The study clearly outlines the benefit of in-depth characterization of overexpressed proteins to deduce important protein modifications.

Keywords: Disulfide bond; LC-MS; Posttranslational modification; Protein characterization; Protein mass spectrometry.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 1 / chemistry
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 1 / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Disulfides / chemistry
  • Disulfides / metabolism
  • Glycosylation
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology*


  • Disulfides
  • BMP1 protein, human
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 1