Five highly homologous epidermal growth factor receptor ligands were studied by mass spectral analysis, hydrogen/deuterium (H/D) exchange via attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy, and two-dimensional correlation analysis. These studies were performed to determine the order of events during the exchange process, the extent of H/D exchange, and associated kinetics of exchange for a comparative analysis of these ligands. Furthermore, the secondary structure composition of amphiregulin (AR) and heparin-binding-epidermal growth factor (HB-EGF) was determined. All ligands were found to have similar contributions of 3(10)-helix and random coil with varying contributions of beta-sheets and beta-turns. The extent of exchange was 40%, 65%, 55%, 65%, and 98% for EGF, transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), AR, HB-EGF, and epiregulin (ER), respectively. The rate constants were determined and classified as fast, intermediate, and slow: for EGF the 0.20 min(-1) (Tyr), 0.09 min(-1) (Arg, beta-turns), and 1.88 x 10(-3) min(-1) (beta-sheets and 3(10)-helix); and for TGF-alpha 0.91 min(-1) (Tyr), 0.27 min(-1) (Arg, beta-turns), and 1.41 x 10(-4) min(-1) (beta-sheets). The time constants for AR 0.47 min(-1) (Tyr), 0.04 min(-1) (Arg), and 1.00 x 10(-4) min(-1) (buried 3(10)-helix, beta-turns, and beta-sheets); for HB-EGF 0.89 min(-1) (Tyr), 0.14 min(-1) (Arg and 3(10)-helix), and 1.00 x 10(-3) min(-1) (buried 3(10)-helix, beta-sheets, and beta-turns); and for epiregulin 0.16 min(-1) (Tyr), 0.03 min(-1) (Arg), and 1.00 x 10(-4) min(-1) (3(10)-helix and beta-sheets). These results provide essential information toward understanding secondary structure, H/D exchange kinetics, and solvation of these epidermal growth factor receptor ligands in their unbound state.

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