Chemical research in toxicology

A targeted proteomics approach to the identification of peptides modified by reactive metabolites.

PMID 19317514


Covalent binding of reactive metabolites is generally accepted as one underlying mechanism of drug-induced toxicity. However, identification of protein targets by reactive metabolites still remains a challenge due to their low abundance. Here, we report the development of a highly selective proteomics workflow for the targeted identification of peptides modified by reactive metabolites. An equimolar mixture of non- and radiolabeled furan containing 2-amino-pyrimidine drug candidate (1 and 14C(1)-1) along with rat liver microsomes were used for the in vitro generation of reactive metabolites. Liver microsomal proteins were separated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, modified protein bands were highlighted by autoradiography and in-gel digested, and peptides were fractionated by strong cation exchange chromatography. Fractions enriched in modified peptides, as determined by radioactivity levels, were subjected to nanoLC-MS/MS and unambiguously detected based on their unique 12C/14C MS isotope pattern fingerprint. The peptide detection step could be automated using isotope pattern recognition software. Peptide sequencing, identification of the site of modification, and reactive metabolite characterization were achieved by MS2 and MS3 experiments using high-resolution and accurate mass detection. This approach led to the identification of four modified peptides originating from three drug-metabolizing enzymes, MGST1, FMO1, and P450 2C11. These revealed modifications by five different metabolite structures. This approach is generally suitable for the identification and characterization of modified proteins and metabolite structures involved in covalent binding and may serve as a valuable tool to link protein targets with clinically relevant toxicities.

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2-Aminopyrimidine, 97%