Amino acids

Uncovering protein polyamination by the spermine-specific antiserum and mass spectrometric analysis.

PMID 25471600


The polyamines spermidine and spermine, and their precursor putrescine, have been shown to play an important role in cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Because of their polycationic property, polyamines are traditionally thought to be involved in DNA replication, gene expression, and protein translation. However, polyamines can also be covalently conjugated to proteins by transglutaminase 2 (TG2). This modification leads to an increase in positive charge in the polyamine-incorporated region which significantly alters the structure of proteins. It is anticipated that protein polyamine conjugation may affect the protein-protein interaction, protein localization, and protein function of the TG2 substrates. In order to investigate the roles of polyamine modification, we synthesized a spermine-conjugated antigen and generated an antiserum against spermine. In vitro TG2-catalyzed spermine incorporation assays were carried out to show that actin, tubulins, heat shock protein 70 and five types of histone proteins were modified with spermine, and modification sites were also identified by liquid chromatography and linear ion trap-orbitrap hybrid mass spectrometry. Subsequent mass spectrometry-based shotgun proteomic analysis also identified 254 polyaminated sites in 233 proteins from the HeLa cell lysate catalyzed by human TG2 with spermine, thus allowing, for the first time, a global appraisal of site-specific protein polyamination. Global analysis of mouse tissues showed that this modification really exists in vivo. Importantly, we have demonstrated that there is a new histone modification, polyamination, in cells. However, the functional significance of histone polyamination demands further investigations.