Proteomic Analysis of Thiol Modifications and Assessment of Structural Changes in Hemoglobin Induced by the Aniline Metabolites N-Phenylhydroxylamine and Nitrosobenzene

Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 1;7(1):14794. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14653-w.


MS-based proteomic analysis was combined with in silico quantum mechanical calculations to improve understanding of protein adduction by N-phenylhydroxylamine (PhNHOH) and nitrosobenzene (NOB), metabolic products of aniline. In vitro adduction of model peptides containing nucleophilic sidechains (Cys, His, and Lys) and selected proteins (bovine and human hemoglobin and β-lactoglobulin-A) were characterized. Peptide studies identified the Cys thiolate as the most reactive nucleophile for these metabolites, a result consistent with in silico calculations of reactivity parameters. For PhNHOH, sulfinamides were identified as the primary adduction products, which were stable following tryptic digestion. Conversely, reactions with NOB yielded an additional oxidized adduct, the sulfonamide. In vitro exposure of human whole blood to PhNHOH and NOB demonstrated that only sulfinamides were formed. In addition to previously reported adduction of β93Cys of human Hb, two novel sites of adduction were found; α104Cys and β112Cys. We also report CD and UV-Vis spectroscopy studies of adducted human Hb that revealed loss of α-helical content and deoxygenation. The results provide additional understanding of the covalent interaction of aromatic amine metabolites with protein nucleophiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Hemoglobins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylamines / chemistry*
  • Nitroso Compounds / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Domains


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Hemoglobins
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • phenylhydroxylamine
  • aniline
  • nitrosobenzene