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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Chemical conversion of aspartyl peptides to isoaspartyl peptides. A method for generating new methyl-accepting substrates for the erythrocyte D-aspartyl/L-isoaspartyl protein methyltransferase.

Mammalian protein carboxyl methyltransferases have recently been proposed to recognize atypical configurations of aspartic acid and may possibly function in the metabolism of covalently altered cellular proteins. Consistent with this proposal, the tetrapeptide tetragastrin, containing a single "normal" L-aspartyl residue (L-Trp-L-Met-L-Asp-L-Phe-NH2) was found here not to be an in vitro substrate for erythrocyte carboxyl methyltransferase activity. However, chemical treatment of tetragastrin by methyl esterification and then de-esterification of the aspartic acid residue yielded a mixture of peptide products, the major one of which could now be enzymatically methylated. We show here that this new peptide species is the isomeric beta-aspartyl form of tetragastrin (L-iso-tetragastrin; L-Trp-L-Met-L-Asp-L-Phe-NH2), and it appears that isomerization proceeds via an intramolecular succinimide intermediate during the de-esterification procedure. L-iso-Tetragastrin is stoichiometrically methylated (up to 90% in these experiments) with a Km for the enzyme of 5.0 microM. Similar chemical treatment of several other L-aspartyl peptides also resulted in the formation of new methyltransferase substrates. This general method for converting normal aspartyl peptides to isoaspartyl peptides may have application in the reverse process as well.[1]


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