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Biomolecules. 2019 Nov 27;9(12). pii: E794. doi: 10.3390/biom9120794.

Structural Lesions of Proteins Connected to Lipid Membrane Damages Caused by Radical Stress: Assessment by Biomimetic Systems and Raman Spectroscopy.

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Istituto I.S.O.F. (C.N.R.), via P. Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Neuromotorie, Università di Bologna, via Belmeloro 8/2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
Department of Biophysics, Faculty of Science, P.J. Safarik University, Jesenna 5, 04001 Kosice, Slovakia.
Center for Interdisciplinary Biosciences, Technology and Innovation Park, P. J. Safarik University, Jesenna 5, 04001 Kosice, Slovakia.
Departament de Quimica, Facultat de ciencies, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain.


Model systems constituted by proteins and unsaturated lipid vesicles were used to gain more insight into the effects of the propagation of an initial radical damage on protein to the lipid compartment. The latter is based on liposome technology and allows measuring the trans unsaturated fatty acid content as a result of free radical stress on proteins. Two kinds of sulfur-containing proteins were chosen to connect their chemical reactivity with membrane lipid transformation, serum albumins and metallothioneins. Biomimetic systems based on radiation chemistry were used to mimic the protein exposure to different kinds of free radical stress and Raman spectroscopy to shed light on protein structural changes caused by the free radical attack. Among the amino acid residues, Cys is one of the most sensitive residues towards the attack of free radicals, thus suggesting that metal-Cys clusters are good interceptors of reactive species in metallothioneins, together with disulfides moieties in serum albumins. Met is another important site of the attack, in particular under reductive conditions. Tyr and Phe are sensitive to radical stress too, leading to electron transfer reactions or radical-induced modifications of their structures. Finally, modifications in protein folding take place depending on reactive species attacking the protein.


Raman spectroscopy; cis-trans isomerization; desulfurization; free radical stress; lipid domains; protein damage; protein:lipid interaction; tandem lesions; thiyl radicals.

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