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Middle-down mass spectrometry enables characterization of branched ubiquitin chains



Middle-down mass spectrometry enables characterization of branched ubiquitin chains



Biochemistry 53(30): 4979-4989



Protein ubiquitylation, one of the most prevalent post-translational modifications in eukaryotes, is involved in regulating nearly every cellular signaling pathway. The vast functional range of ubiquitylation has largely been attributed to the formation of a diverse array of polymeric ubiquitin (polyUb) chains. Methods that enable the characterization of these diverse chains are necessary to fully understand how differences in structure relate to function. Here, we describe a method for the detection of enzymatically derived branched polyUb conjugates in which a single Ub subunit is modified by two Ub molecules at distinct lysine residues. Using a middle-down mass spectrometry approach in which restricted trypsin-mediated digestion is coupled with mass spectrometric analysis, we characterize the polyUb chains produced by bacterial effector E3 ligases NleL (non-Lee-encoded effector ligase from enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7) and IpaH9.8 (from Shigella flexneri). Because Ub is largely intact after minimal trypsinolysis, multiple modifications on a single Ub moiety can be detected. Analysis of NleL- and IpaH9.8-derived polyUb chains reveals branch points are present in approximately 10% of the overall chain population. When unanchored, well-defined polyUb chains are added to reaction mixtures containing NleL, longer chains are more likely to be modified internally, forming branch points rather than extending from the end of the chain. These results suggest that middle-down mass spectrometry can be used to assess the extent to which branched polyUb chains are formed by various enzymatic systems and potentially evaluate the presence of these atypical conjugates in cell and tissue extracts.

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Accession: 054384369

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 25023374

DOI: 10.1021/bi5006305


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