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Biochemistry. 2013 Feb 19;52(7):1260-71. doi: 10.1021/bi301523s. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Role of lysine during protein modification by HOCl and HOBr: halogen-transfer agent or sacrificial antioxidant?

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Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8286, USA.


Although protein degradation by neutrophil-derived hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and eosinophil-derived hypobromous acid (HOBr) can contribute to the inactivation of pathogens, collateral damage to host proteins can also occur and has been associated with inflammatory diseases ranging from arthritis to atherosclerosis. Though previous research suggested halotyrosines as biomarkers of protein damage and lysine as a mediator of the transfer of a halogen to tyrosine, these reactions within whole proteins are poorly understood. Herein, reactions of HOCl and HOBr with three well-characterized proteins [adenylate kinase (ADK), ribose binding protein, and bovine serum albumin] were characterized. Three assessments of oxidative modifications were evaluated for each of the proteins: (1) covalent modification of electron-rich amino acids (assessed via liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry), (2) attenuation of secondary structure (via circular dichroism), and (3) fragmentation of protein backbones (via sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis). In addition to forming halotyrosines, HOCl and HOBr converted lysine into lysine nitrile (2-amino-5-cyanopentanoic acid), a relatively stable and largely overlooked product, in yields of up to 80%. At uniform oxidant levels, fragmentation and loss of secondary structure correlated with protein size. To further examine the role of lysine, a lysine-free ADK variant was rationally designed. The absence of lysine increased yields of chlorinated tyrosines and decreased yields of brominated tyrosines following treatments with HOCl and HOBr, respectively, without influencing the susceptibility of ADK to HOX-mediated losses of secondary structure. These findings suggest that lysine serves predominantly as a sacrificial antioxidant (via formation of lysine nitrile) toward HOCl and as a halogen-transfer mediator [via reactions involving ε-N-(di)haloamines] with HOBr.

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