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Dehydroalanine (DHA) and dehydrobutyrine (DHB) intermediates, formed through β-elimination, induce protein irreversible glutathionylation and protein-protein crosslinking in human lens fiber cells. In total, irreversible glutathionylation was detected on 52 sites including cysteine, serine and threonine residues in 18 proteins in human lenses. In this study, the levels of GSH modification on three serine residues and four cysteine residues located in seven different lens proteins isolated from different regions and different aged lenses were quantified. The relative levels of modification (modified/nonmodified) were site-specific and age-related, ranging from less than 0.05% to about 500%. The levels of modification on all of the sites quantified in the lens cortex increased with age and GSH modification also increased from cortex to outer nucleus region suggesting an age-related increase of modification. The levels of modification on sites located in stable regions of the proteins such as Cys117 of βA3, Cys80 of βB1 and Cys27 of γS, continued increasing in inner nucleus, but modification on sites located in regions undergoing degradation with age decreased in the inner nucleus suggesting GSH modified proteins were more susceptible to further modification. Irreversible GSH modification in cataract lenses was typically higher than in age-matched normal lenses, but the difference did not reach statistical significance for a majority of sites, with the exception Cys117 of βA3 crystallin in WSF. Except for S59 of αA and αB crystallins, GSH modification did not induce protein insolubility suggesting a possible role for this modification in protection from protein-protein crosslinking.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - The human body contains numerous long-lived proteins which deteriorate with age, typically by racemisation, deamidation, crosslinking and truncation. Previously we elucidated one reaction responsible for age-related crosslinking, the spontaneous formation of dehydroalanine (DHA) intermediates from phosphoserine and cysteine. This resulted in non-disulphide covalent crosslinks. The current paper outlines a novel posttranslational modification (PTM) in human proteins, which involves the addition of dehydroalanylglycine (DHAGly) to Lys residues.
METHODS - Human lens digests were examined by mass spectrometry for the presence of (DHA)Gly (+144.0535 Da) adducts to Lys residues. Peptide model studies were undertaken to elucidate the mechanism of formation.
RESULTS - In the lens, this PTM was detected at 18 lysine sites in 7 proteins. Using model peptides, a pathway for its formation was found to involve initial formation of the glutathione degradation product, γ-Glu(DHA)Gly from oxidised glutathione (GSSG). Once the Lys adduct formed, the Glu residue was lost in a hydrolytic mechanism apparently catalysed by the ε-amino group of the Lys.
CONCLUSIONS - This discovery suggests that within cells, the functional groups of amino acids in proteins may be susceptible to modification by reactive metabolites derived from GSSG.
GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE - Our finding demonstrates a novel +144.0535 Da PTM arising from the breakdown of oxidised glutathione.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Glutathione (GSH) is the archetypal antioxidant, and plays a central role in the protection of the ocular lens from cataract formation. High levels of GSH are maintained in the transparent lens, but with advancing age, GSH levels fall in the lens nucleus relative to outer cortical cells, thereby exposing the nucleus of the lens to the damaging effects of oxygen radicals, which ultimately leads to age-related nuclear (ARN) cataract. Under normal conditions, GSH also forms endogenous conjugates to detoxify the lens of reactive cellular metabolites and to maintain cell homeostasis. Due to the intrinsic gradient of lens fibre cell age, the lens contains distinct regions with different metabolic requirements for GSH. To investigate the impact of fibre cell and lens aging on the varied roles that GSH plays in the lens, we have utilised high mass resolution MALDI mass spectrometry profiling and imaging analysis of lens tissue sections. High Dynamic Range (HDR)-MALDI FTICR mass spectrometry was used as an initial screening method to detect regional differences in lens metabolites from normal bovine lenses and in those subjected to hyperbaric oxygen as a model of lens aging. Subsequent MALDI imaging analysis was used to spatially map GSH and its endogenous conjugates throughout all lenses. Accurate mass measurement by MALDI FTICR analysis and LC-MS/MS mass spectrometry of lens region homogenates were subsequently used to identify endogenous GSH conjugates. While the distribution and relative abundance of GSH-related metabolic intermediates involved in detoxification pathways remained relatively unchanged upon HBO treatment, those involved in its antioxidant function were altered under conditions of oxidative stress. For example, reduced glutathione levels were decreased in the lens cortex while oxidised glutathione levels were elevated in the lens outer cortex upon HBO treatment. Interestingly, cysteineglutathione disulfide, was detected in the inner cortex of the normal lens, but was greatly decreased in the HBO-treated lenses. These results contribute to our understanding of the multiple roles that GSH plays in maintenance of lens transparency and in the age-related metabolic changes that lead to lens cataract formation.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The refractivity and transparency of the ocular lens is dependent on the stability and solubility of the crystallins in the fiber cells. A number of mutations of lens crystallins have been associated with dominant cataracts in humans and mice. Of particular interest were γB- and γD-crystallin mutants linked to dominant cataracts in mouse models. Although thermodynamically destabilized and aggregation-prone, these mutants were found to have weak affinity to the resident chaperone α-crystallin in vitro To better understand the mechanism of the cataract phenotype, we transgenically expressed different γD-crystallin mutants in the zebrafish lens and observed a range of lens defects that arise primarily from the aggregation of the mutant proteins. Unlike mouse models, a strong correlation was observed between the severity and penetrance of the phenotype and the level of destabilization of the mutant. We interpret this result to reflect the presence of a proteostasis network that can "sense" protein stability. In the more destabilized mutants, the capacity of this network is overwhelmed, leading to the observed increase in phenotypic penetrance. Overexpression of αA-crystallin had no significant effects on the penetrance of lens defects, suggesting that its chaperone capacity is not limiting. Although consistent with the prevailing hypothesis that a chaperone network is required for lens transparency, our results suggest that αA-crystallin may not be efficient to inhibit aggregation of lens γ-crystallin. Furthermore, our work implicates additional inputs/factors in this underlying proteostasis network and demonstrates the utility of zebrafish as a platform to delineate mechanisms of cataract.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
PURPOSE - To quantify protein changes in the morphologically distinct remodeling zone (RZ) and adjacent regions of the human lens outer cortex using spatially directed quantitative proteomics.
METHODS - Lightly fixed human lens sections were deparaffinized and membranes labeled with fluorescent wheat germ agglutinin (WGA-TRITC). Morphology directed laser capture microdissection (LCM) was used to isolate tissue from four distinct regions of human lens outer cortex: differentiating zone (DF), RZ, transition zone (TZ), and inner cortex (IC). Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) of the plasma membrane fraction from three lenses (21-, 22-, and 27-year) revealed changes in major cytoskeletal proteins including vimentin, filensin, and phakinin. Peptides from proteins of interest were quantified using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mass spectrometry and isotopically-labeled internal peptide standards.
RESULTS - Results revealed an intermediate filament switch from vimentin to beaded filament proteins filensin and phakinin that occurred at the RZ. Several other cytoskeletal proteins showed significant changes between regions, while most crystallins remained unchanged. Targeted proteomics provided accurate, absolute quantification of these proteins and confirmed vimentin, periplakin, and periaxin decrease from the DF to the IC, while filensin, phakinin, and brain acid soluble protein 1 (BASP1) increase significantly at the RZ.
CONCLUSIONS - Mass spectrometry-compatible fixation and morphology directed laser capture enabled proteomic analysis of narrow regions in the human lens outer cortex. Results reveal dramatic cytoskeletal protein changes associated with the RZ, suggesting that one role of these proteins is in membrane deformation and/or the establishment of ball and socket joints in the human RZ.
MALDI imaging requires careful sample preparation to obtain reliable, high-quality images of small molecules, peptides, lipids, and proteins across tissue sections. Poor crystal formation, delocalization of analytes, and inadequate tissue adherence can affect the quality, reliability, and spatial resolution of MALDI images. We report a comparison of tissue mounting and washing methods that resulted in an optimized method using conductive carbon substrates that avoids thaw mounting or washing steps, minimizes protein delocalization, and prevents tissue detachment from the target surface. Application of this method to image ocular lens proteins of small vertebrate eyes demonstrates the improved methodology for imaging abundant crystallin protein products. This method was demonstrated for tissue sections from rat, mouse, and zebrafish lenses resulting in good-quality MALDI images with little to no delocalization. The images indicate, for the first time in mouse and zebrafish, discrete localization of crystallin protein degradation products resulting in concentric rings of distinct protein contents that may be responsible for the refractive index gradient of vertebrate lenses.
Earlier we reported that low molecular weight (LMW) peptides accumulate in aging human lens tissue and that among the LMW peptides, the chaperone inhibitor peptide αA66-80, derived from α-crystallin protein, is one of the predominant peptides. We showed that in vitro αA66-80 induces protein aggregation. The current study was undertaken to determine whether LMW peptides are also present in guinea pig lens tissue subjected to hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) in vivo. The nuclear opacity induced by HBO in guinea pig lens is the closest animal model for studying age-related cataract formation in humans. A LMW peptide profile by mass spectrometry showed the presence of an increased amount of LMW peptides in HBO-treated guinea pig lenses compared to age-matched controls. Interestingly, the mass spectrometric data also showed that the chaperone inhibitor peptide αA66-80 accumulates in HBO-treated guinea pig lens. Following incubation of synthetic chaperone inhibitor peptide αA66-80 with α-crystallin from guinea pig lens extracts, we observed a decreased ability of α-crystallin to inhibit the amorphous aggregation of the target protein alcohol dehydrogenase and the formation of large light scattering aggregates, similar to those we have observed with human α-crystallin and αA66-80 peptide. Further, time-lapse recordings showed that a preformed complex of α-crystallin and αA66-80 attracted additional crystallin molecules to form even larger aggregates. These results demonstrate that LMW peptide-mediated cataract development in aged human lens and in HBO-induced lens opacity in the guinea pig may have common molecular pathways.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is a major risk factor for age-related cataract, a protein-aggregation disease of the human lens often involving the major proteins of the lens, the crystallins. γD-Crystallin (HγD-Crys) is abundant in the nucleus of the human lens, and its folding and aggregation have been extensively studied. Previous work showed that HγD-Crys photoaggregates in vitro upon exposure to UVA/UVB light and that its conserved tryptophans are not required for aggregation. Surprisingly, the tryptophan residues play a photoprotective role because of a distinctive energy-transfer mechanism. HγD-Crys also contains 14 tyrosine residues, 12 of which are organized as six pairs. We investigated the role of the tyrosines of HγD-Crys by replacing pairs with alanines and monitoring photoaggregation using light scattering and SDS-PAGE. Mutating both tyrosines in the Y16/Y28 pair to alanine slowed the formation of light-scattering aggregates. Further mutant studies implicated Y16 as important for photoaggregation. Mass spectrometry revealed that C18, in contact with Y16, is heavily oxidized during UVR exposure. Analysis of multiple mutant proteins by mass spectrometry suggested that Y16 and C18 likely participate in the same photochemical process. The data suggest an initial photoaggregation pathway for HγD-Crys in which excited-state Y16 interacts with C18, initiating radical polymerization.
Nonenzymatic post-translational modification (PTM) of proteins is a fundamental molecular process of aging. The combination of various modifications and their accumulation with age not only affects function, but leads to crosslinking and protein aggregation. In this study, aged human lens proteins were examined using HPLC-tandem mass spectrometry and a blind PTM search strategy. Multiple thioether modifications of Ser and Thr residues by glutathione (GSH) and its metabolites were unambiguously identified. Thirty-four of 36 sites identified on 15 proteins were found on known phosphorylation sites, supporting a mechanism involving dehydroalanine (DHA) and dehydrobutyrine (DHB) formation through β-elimination of phosphoric acid from phosphoserine and phosphothreonine with subsequent nucleophilic attack by GSH. In vitro incubations of phosphopeptides demonstrated that this process can occur spontaneously under physiological conditions. Evidence that this mechanism can also lead to protein-protein crosslinks within cells is provided where five crosslinked peptides were detected in a human cataractous lens. Nondisulfide crosslinks were identified for the first time in lens tissue between βB2- & βB2-, βA4- & βA3-, γS- & βB1-, and βA4- & βA4-crystallins and provide detailed structural information on in vivo crystallin complexes. These data suggest that phosphoserine and phosphothreonine residues represent susceptible sites for spontaneous breakdown in long-lived proteins and that DHA- and DHB-mediated protein crosslinking may be the source of the long-sought after nondisulfide protein aggregates believed to scatter light in cataractous lenses. Furthermore, this mechanism may be a common aging process that occurs in long-lived proteins of other tissues leading to protein aggregation diseases.
© 2013 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
We are exploring the mechanisms underlying how maternal infection increases the risk for schizophrenia and autism in the offspring. Several mouse models of maternal immune activation (MIA) were used to examine the immediate effects of MIA induced by influenza virus, poly(I:C) and interleukin IL-6 on the fetal brain transcriptome. Our results indicate that all three MIA treatments lead to strong and common gene expression changes in the embryonic brain. Most notably, there is an acute and transient upregulation of the α, β and γ crystallin gene family. Furthermore, levels of crystallin gene expression are correlated with the severity of MIA as assessed by placental weight. The overall gene expression changes suggest that the response to MIA is a neuroprotective attempt by the developing brain to counteract environmental stress, but at a cost of disrupting typical neuronal differentiation and axonal growth. We propose that this cascade of events might parallel the mechanisms by which environmental insults contribute to the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.