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Improved quantitative mass spectrometry methods for characterizing complex ubiquitin signals

Reputable Mentor II
Reputable Mentor II
Phu L, Izrael-Tomasevic A, Matsumoto ML, Bustos D, Dynek JN, Fedorova AV, Bakalarski CE, Arnott D, Deshayes K, Dixit VM, Kelley RF, Vucic D, Kirkpatrick DS.
Mol Cell Proteomics. 2011 May;10(5):M110.003756.
Ubiquitinated substrates can be recruited to macromolecular complexes through interactions between their covalently bound ubiquitin (Ub) signals and Ub receptor proteins. To develop a functional understanding of the Ub system in vivo, methods are needed to determine the composition of Ub signals on individual substrates and in protein mixtures. Mass spectrometry has emerged as an important tool for characterizing the various forms of Ub. In the Ubiquitin-AQUA approach, synthetic isotopically labeled internal standard peptides are used to quantify unbranched peptides and the branched -GG signature peptides generated by trypsin digestion of Ub signals. Here we have built upon existing methods and established a comprehensive platform for the characterization of Ub signals. Digested peptides and isotopically labeled standards are analyzed either by selected reaction monitoring on a QTRAP mass spectrometer or by narrow window extracted ion chromatograms on a high resolution LTQ-Orbitrap. Additional peptides are now monitored to account for the N terminus of ubiquitin, linear polyUb chains, the peptides surrounding K33 and K48, and incomplete digestion products. Using this expanded battery of peptides, the total amount of Ub in a sample can be determined from multiple loci within the protein, minimizing possible confounding effects of complex Ub signals, digestion abnormalities, or use of mutant Ub in experiments. These methods have been useful for the characterization of in vitro, multistage ubiquitination and have now been extended to reactions catalyzed by multiple E2 enzymes. One question arising from in vitro studies is whether individual protein substrates in cells may be modified by multiple forms of polyUb. Here we have taken advantage of recently developed polyubiquitin linkage-specific antibodies recognizing K48- and K63-linked polyUb chains, coupled with these mass spectrometry methods, to further evaluate the abundance of mixed linkage Ub substrates in cultured mammalian cells. By combining these two powerful tools, we show that polyubiquitinated substrates purified from cells can be modified by mixtures of K48, K63, and K11 linkages.
Departments of Protein Chemistry, Genentech, Inc, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.
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