Investigating Chemical Modifications in a Complex Proteome
Proteins are composed of the 20 naturally occurring amino acids and are further modified by a variety of post-translational modifications (PTMS). Naturally occurring amino acids are diverse in structure and function. Catalytic amino acids, or nucleophilic amino acids, are of particular interest because of their contribution to chemical transformations in the cell. Synthetic covalent modification is a means to further functionalize or diversify proteins. These modifications, or enhancements, allow for improved understanding of protein structure, function and activity. For instance, isotope labeling of amino acid side chains in NMR studies enable investigators to study protein dynamics upon substrate or ligand binding. Fluorescence labeling is particularly useful to investigate protein cellular localization. Covalent modification is a useful tool to investigate the relative level of activity for protein known to be regulated by PTMs. An important feature of covalent modification reactions is site specificity, as this dictates the location, number of modifications, and protein targets. Tyrosine is of particular interest because it is both nucleophilic and aromatic. These characteristics contribute to the existence of tyrosine residues in both the protein surface and hydrophobic cores. Tyrosine is incorporated into proteins at a relatively low frequency. Unlike lysine, which is ubiquitous on protein surfaces, the low number of potential sites for general tyrosine modifications makes it an attractive site for surface bioconjugation modifications. A low number of surface modifications is less likely to perturb native protein function. Bioconjugation reactions give access to functionalizing the surface of proteins with moieties such as fluorophores, PEG, peptides, or drugs. Tyrosine is an attractive target for modifications because it is found in the active sites of a variety of enzymes such as sialidases, glutathione-S transferases, corticosteroid 11-beta-dehydrogensase, DNA topoisomerase, and ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase. Provided here is a survey of the known non-selective and selective synthetic chemical modification reactions for tyrosine. To investigate nucleophilic amino acids, Activity Based Protein Profiling (ABPP) may be implemented to investigate the role of these residues. ABPP utilizes small molecule covalent probes as a tool to selectively target enzymes in their active state. To investigate a protein of interest (POI) (or class of proteins) by ABPP, it is necessary to use a small molecule covalent probe that selectively reacts with the POI over other proteins within the proteome. Due to this requirement, it is necessary to expand the current ABPP probe toolbox to increase the coverage of what proteins in the proteome may be studied. Inspired by findings in the literature, our lab sought to explore the utility of various aryl halides for implementation in ABPP probes to overcome this limitation. This study revealed dichlorotriazine as a biologically relevant and reactive electrophile. A focus was placed on a dichlorotriazine containing probe library (LAS1-LAS20). LAS17 was discovered to be a potent and selective inhibitor of human glutathione S-transferase pi (GSTP1). Further studies revealed GSTP1 as a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer. Other studies revealed several members of the dichlorotriazine library were found to covalently modify purified recombinant human aldolase A (ALDOA) in the presence of a complex cellular background. Additionally, LAS9 was identified as an inhibitor of ALDOA retro aldol condensation activity in vitro. Lastly, the final chapter highlights two collaborations in which tandem mass spectrometry experiments aid in the characterization of experimental data. In the first collaboration, a quantitative cysteine reactivity profiling method was used to characterize the selectivity of a cysteine reactive covalent NRF2-inducing small molecule, MIND4-17. In the second collaboration, analysis of tryptic mass spectrometry data enabled high resolution characterization of peptide sequencing for superfolder green fluorescent protein (sfGFP) expressed from observed internal nonsense suppression. Identification of the misincorporated amino acid facilitated the elucidation of the cross-talk mechanism.