Deep amino acid sequencing of native brain GABAA receptors using high-resolution mass spectrometry

Chen ZW, Fuchs K, Sieghart W, Townsend RR, Evers AS (2011). Mol Cell Proteomics, Epub
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Mass spectrometric sequencing of low abundance, integral membrane proteins, particularly the transmembrane domains, presents challenges that span the multiple phases of sample preparation including solubilization, purification, enzymatic digestion, peptide extraction and chromatographic separation. We describe a method through which we have obtained high peptide coverage for twelve γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABA(A) receptor) subunits from two picomoles of affinity-purified GABA(A) receptors from rat brain neocortex. Focusing on the α(1) subunit, we identified peptides covering 96% of the protein sequence from fragmentation spectra (MS2) using a database searching algorithm and deduced 80% of the amino acid residues in the protein from de novo sequencing of Orbitrap spectra. The workflow combined microscale membrane protein solubilization, protein delipidation, in-solution multi-enzyme digestion, multiple stationary phases for peptide extraction and acquisition of high-resolution full scan and fragmentation spectra. For de novo sequencing of peptides containing the transmembrane domains, timed digestions with chymotrypsin were utilized to generate peptides with overlapping sequences which were then recovered by sequential solid phase extraction using a C4 followed by a porous graphitic carbon stationary phase. The specificity of peptide identifications and amino acid residue sequences was increased by high mass accuracy and charge state assignment to parent and fragment ions. Analysis of three separate brain samples demonstrated that 78% of the sequence of the α(1) subunit was observed in all three replicates with an additional 13% covered in two of the three replicates, indicating a high degree of sequence coverage reproducibility. Label-free quantitative analysis was applied to the three replicates to determine the relative abundances of 11 GABA(A) receptor subunits. The deep sequence MS data also revealed two N-glycosylation sites on the α(1) subunit, confirmed two splice variants of the γ(2) subunit (γ(2L) and γ(2S)) and resolved a database discrepancy in the sequence of the α(5) subunit.

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Posted on October 17, 2011
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