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Unlike intermolecular disulfide bonds, other protein cross-links arising from oxidative modifications cannot be reversed and are presumably more toxic to cells because they may accumulate and induce protein aggregation. However, most of these irreversible protein cross-links remain poorly characterized. For instance, the antioxidant enzyme human superoxide dismutase 1 (hSod1) has been reported to undergo non-disulfide covalent dimerization and further oligomerization during its bicarbonate-dependent peroxidase activity. The dimerization was shown to be dependent on the oxidation of the single, solvent-exposed Trp(32) residue of hSod1, but the covalent dimer was not isolated nor was its structure determined. In this work, the hSod1 covalent dimer was isolated, digested with trypsin in H(2)O and H(2)(18)O, and analyzed by UV-Vis spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS). The results demonstrate that the covalent dimer consists of two hSod1 subunits cross-linked by a ditryptophan, which contains a bond between C3 and N1 of the respective Trp(32) residues. We further demonstrate that the cross-link cleaves under usual MS/MS conditions leading to apparently unmodified Trp(32), partially hinders proteolysis, and provides a mechanism to explain the formation of hSod1 covalent trimers and tetramers. This characterization of the covalent hSod1 dimer identifies a novel oxidative modification of protein Trp residues and provides clues for studying its occurrence in vivo. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Danilo B Medinas, Fabio C Gozzo, Luiz F A Santos, Amadeu H Iglesias, Ohara Augusto. A ditryptophan cross-link is responsible for the covalent dimerization of human superoxide dismutase 1 during its bicarbonate-dependent peroxidase activity. Free radical biology & medicine. 2010 Sep 15;49(6):1046-53

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PMID: 20600836

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