The present work reports a mass spectrometric investigation of the NS2/3 protein, a protease from hepatitis C virus (HCV). During routine protein manipulation, in the presence of 100 mM β-mercaptoethanol and under denatured conditions, the protein was unexpectedly modified at its cysteine residues, and the increased molecular weight corresponded to one molecule of β- mercaptoethanol bound. The modified protein, once refolded, was found to be less active than the unmodified one. The aim of this work was to investigate whether the reactivity of cysteines with β-mercaptoethanol involves one specific, highly reactive residue of the sequence, or if the modification is a random process. Liquid chromatography (LC) coupled on-line with an electrospray ion trap mass spectrometer was used to identify the modification sites. It was found that five cysteines out of nine had reacted with β-mercaptoethanol, none of them showing a significantly higher reactivity than the others. 95% of sequence coverage was obtained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry