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Mass spectrometric analysis of integral membrane proteins: application to complete mapping of bacteriorhodopsins and rhodopsin.

Ball L.E., Oatis J.E. Jr., Dharmasiri K., Busman M., Wang J., Cowden L.B., Galijatovic A., Chen N., Crouch R.K., Knapp D.R.

Integral membrane proteins have not been readily amenable to the general methods developed for mass spectrometric (or internal Edman degradation) analysis of soluble proteins. We present here a sample preparation method and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation system which permits online HPLC-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) and -tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analysis of cyanogen bromide cleavage fragments of integral membrane proteins. This method has been applied to wild type (WT) bacteriorhodopsin (bR), cysteine containing mutants of bR, and the prototypical G-protein coupled receptor, rhodopsin (Rh). In the described method, the protein is reduced and the cysteine residues pyridylethylated prior to separating the protein from the membrane. Following delipidation, the pyridylethylated protein is cleaved with cyanogen bromide. The cleavage fragments are separated by reversed phase HPLC using an isopropanol/acetonitrile/aqueous TFA solvent system and the effluent peptides analyzed online with a Finnigan LCQ Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer. With the exception of single amino acid fragments and the glycosylated fragment of Rh, which is observable by matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI)-MS, this system permits analysis of the entire protein in a single HPLC run. This methodology will enable pursuit of chemical modification and crosslinking studies designed to probe the three dimensional structures and functional conformational changes in these proteins. The approach should also be generally applicable to analysis of other integral membrane proteins.

Protein Sci. 7:758-764(1998) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]