Cysteine (Cys) oxidation is a crucial post-translational modification (PTM) associated with redox signaling and oxidative stress. As Cys is highly reactive to oxidants it forms a range of post-translational modifications, some that are biologically reversible (e.g. disulfides, Cys sulfenic acid) and others (Cys sulfinic [Cys-SO2H] and sulfonic [Cys-SO3H] acids) that are considered "irreversible." We developed an enrichment method to isolate Cys-SO2H/SO3H-containing peptides from complex tissue lysates that is compatible with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The acidity of these post-translational modification (pKa Cys-SO3H < 0) creates a unique charge distribution when localized on tryptic peptides at acidic pH that can be utilized for their purification. The method is based on electrostatic repulsion of Cys-SO2H/SO3H-containing peptides from cationic resins (i.e. "negative" selection) followed by "positive" selection using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography. Modification of strong cation exchange protocols decreased the complexity of initial flowthrough fractions by allowing for hydrophobic retention of neutral peptides. Coupling of strong cation exchange and hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography allowed for increased enrichment of Cys-SO2H/SO3H (up to 80%) from other modified peptides. We identified 181 Cys-SO2H/SO3H sites from rat myocardial tissue subjected to physiologically relevant concentrations of H2O2 (<100 μm) or to ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury via Langendorff perfusion. I/R significantly increased Cys-SO2H/SO3H-modified peptides from proteins involved in energy utilization and contractility, as well as those involved in oxidative damage and repair.
Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, 2015, Vol 14, Issue 3, p. 609-20