The reversible formation of a selenenylsulfide linkage in mammalian thioredoxin reductase was identified as having a key role in its activity. Identification of selenenylsulfide and/or diselenide linkages is therefore critical to the determination of the structure and function of selenoproteins. A selenopeptide, (298)SGSAITUQCAENLPSLCSUQGLFAEEK(324) (U=selenocysteine), was isolated from a tryptic digest of rat selenoprotein P. Its two cysteine residues and two selenocysteine (Sec) residues were determined to be present in oxidized form by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). The selenopeptide was subjected to partial reduction by dithiothreitol with immediate alkylation by iodoacetamide. This process was monitored by MALDI-TOFMS to determine the number of alkylations that had taken place. The partially reduced and alkylated peptides were then analyzed by nano-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry and the results indicated that selenenylsulfide linkages Sec304-Cys314 and Cys306-Sec316 were present. It is concluded that selenoprotein P contains these two selenenylsulfide bonds.
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