A single-molecule strategy to capture non-native intramolecular and intermolecular protein disulfide bridges

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Non-native disulfide bonds are dynamic covalent bridges that form post-translationally between two cysteines within the same protein (intramolecular) or with a neighboring protein (intermolecular), frequently due to changes in the cellular redox potential. The reversible formation of non-native disulfides is intimately linked to alterations in protein function; while they can provide a mechanism to protect against cysteine overoxidation, they are also involved in the early stages of protein multimerization, a hallmark of several protein aggregation diseases. Yet their identification using current protein chemistry technology remains challenging, mainly because of their fleeting reactivity. Here, we use single-molecule spectroscopy AFM and molecular dynamics simulations to capture both intra- and intermolecular disulfide bonds in γD-crystallin, a cysteine-rich, structural human lens protein involved in age-related eye cataracts. Our approach showcases the power of mechanical force as a conformational probe in dynamically evolving proteins and presents a platform to detect non-native disulfide bridges with single-molecule resolution.

Journal details

Journal Nano Letters
Volume 22
Issue number 10
Pages 3922-3930
Available online
Publication date