Protein folding stabilities are a major determinant of oxidation rates for buried methionine residues

J Biol Chem. 2022 May;298(5):101872. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.101872. Epub 2022 Mar 26.


The oxidation of protein-bound methionines to form methionine sulfoxides has a broad range of biological ramifications, making it important to delineate factors that influence methionine oxidation rates within a given protein. This is especially important for biopharmaceuticals, where oxidation can lead to deactivation and degradation. Previously, neighboring residue effects and solvent accessibility have been shown to impact the susceptibility of methionine residues to oxidation. In this study, we provide proteome-wide evidence that oxidation rates of buried methionine residues are also strongly influenced by the thermodynamic folding stability of proteins. We surveyed the Escherichia coli proteome using several proteomic methodologies and globally measured oxidation rates of methionine residues in the presence and absence of tertiary structure, as well as the folding stabilities of methionine-containing domains. These data indicated that buried methionines have a wide range of protection factors against oxidation that correlate strongly with folding stabilities. Consistent with this, we show that in comparison to E. coli, the proteome of the thermophile Thermus thermophilus is significantly more stable and thus more resistant to methionine oxidation. To demonstrate the utility of this correlation, we used native methionine oxidation rates to survey the folding stabilities of E. coli and T. thermophilus proteomes at various temperatures and propose a model that relates the temperature dependence of the folding stabilities of these two species to their optimal growth temperatures. Overall, these results indicate that oxidation rates of buried methionines from the native state of proteins can be used as a metric of folding stability.

Keywords: mass spectrometry (MS); methionine; oxidation-reduction; protein stability; proteomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Methionine / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Folding
  • Proteome* / metabolism
  • Proteomics*


  • Proteome
  • Methionine