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Deamidation of Asparagine to Aspartate Destabilizes Cu, Zn Superoxide Dismutase, Accelerates Fibrillization, and Mirrors ALS-Linked Mutations

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posted on 2013-10-23, 00:00 authored by Yunhua Shi, Nicholas R. Rhodes, Alireza Abdolvahabi, Taylor Kohn, Nathan P. Cook, Angel A. Marti, Bryan F. Shaw
The reactivity of asparagine residues in Cu, Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) to deamidate to aspartate remains uncharacterized; its occurrence in SOD1 has not been investigated, and the biophysical effects of deamidation on SOD1 are unknown. Deamidation is, nonetheless, chemically equivalent to Asn-to-Asp missense mutations in SOD1 that cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This study utilized computational methods to identify three asparagine residues in wild-type (WT) SOD1 (i.e., N26, N131, and N139) that are predicted to undergo significant deamidation (i.e., to >20%) on time scales comparable to the long lifetime (>1 year) of SOD1 in large motor neurons. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to successively substitute these asparagines with aspartate (to mimic deamidation) according to their predicted deamidation rate, yielding: N26D, N26D/N131D, and N26D/N131D/N139D SOD1. Differential scanning calorimetry demonstrated that the thermostability of N26D/N131D/N139D SOD1 is lower than WT SOD1 by ∼2–8 °C (depending upon the state of metalation) and <3 °C lower than the ALS mutant N139D SOD1. The triply deamidated analog also aggregated into amyloid fibrils faster than WT SOD1 by ∼2-fold (p < 0.008**) and at a rate identical to ALS mutant N139D SOD1 (p > 0.2). A total of 534 separate amyloid assays were performed to generate statistically significant comparisons of aggregation rates among WT and N/D SOD1 proteins. Capillary electrophoresis and mass spectrometry demonstrated that ∼23% of N26 is deamidated to aspartate (iso-aspartate was undetectable) in a preparation of WT human SOD1 (isolated from erythrocytes) that has been used for decades by researchers as an analytical standard. The deamidation of asparaginean analytically elusive, sub-Dalton modificationrepresents a plausible and overlooked mechanism by which WT SOD1 is converted to a neurotoxic isoform that has a similar structure, instability, and aggregation propensity as ALS mutant N139D SOD1.

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