Validation of membrane protein topology models by oxidative labeling and mass spectrometry

Yan Pan, Xiang Ruan, Miguel A Valvano, Lars Konermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Computer-assisted topology predictions are widely used to build low-resolution structural models of integral membrane proteins (IMPs). Experimental validation of these models by traditional methods is labor intensive and requires modifications that might alter the IMP native conformation. This work employs oxidative labeling coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) as a validation tool for computer-generated topology models. ·OH exposure introduces oxidative modifications in solvent-accessible regions, whereas buried segments (e.g., transmembrane helices) are non-oxidizable. The Escherichia coli protein WaaL (O-antigen ligase) is predicted to have 12 transmembrane helices and a large extramembrane domain (Pérez et al., Mol. Microbiol. 2008, 70, 1424). Tryptic digestion and LC-MS/MS were used to map the oxidative labeling behavior of WaaL. Met and Cys exhibit high intrinsic reactivities with ·OH, making them sensitive probes for solvent accessibility assays. Overall, the oxidation pattern of these residues is consistent with the originally proposed WaaL topology. One residue (M151), however, undergoes partial oxidation despite being predicted to reside within a transmembrane helix. Using an improved computer algorithm, a slightly modified topology model was generated that places M151 closer to the membrane interface. On the basis of the labeling data, it is concluded that the refined model more accurately reflects the actual topology of WaaL. We propose that the combination of oxidative labeling and MS represents a useful strategy for assessing the accuracy of IMP topology predictions, supplementing data obtained in traditional biochemical assays. In the future, it might be possible to incorporate oxidative labeling data directly as constraints in topology prediction algorithms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Spectroscopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Validation of membrane protein topology models by oxidative labeling and mass spectrometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this