When most proteins undergo oxidative damage, they yield a variety of products containing oxidative damage at a large number of sites, most of which are modified substoichiometrically. The resulting complex mixture of products is not amenable to high-resolution structural analyses. The previous methods of structural analysis have relied upon either very generalized structural analyses such as circular dichroism or the creation of a battery of mutants to try to isolate single-residue damage effects. We present a methodology using mass spectrometry to measure the kinetics of oxidation at many sites simultaneously. Previous studies have shown that these kinetics are determined by the chemical nature of the damage site and by the accessibility of that site to the radical. By measuring deviations in the rate of oxidation from the expected pseudo-zero-order kinetics, we can detect and characterize local structural changes due to the oxidative damage. We demonstrate the application of this new technique to the Spo0F protein, a regulator of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. Circular dichroism studies suggest a partial loss of helical structure of Spo0F as a result of oxidative damage. We report that oxidation causes a three-stage conformational change in Spo0F. Furthermore, we find the dramatic structural changes affect only the region surrounding the active site, while the remainder of the structure remains relatively unperturbed. Finally, we are able to determine that the specific oxidation event that triggers the conformational change at the active site of Spo0F occurs at Met81, a partially conserved methionine in the CheY superfamily.
Measurement of multisite oxidation kinetics reveals an active site conformational change in Spo0F as a result of protein oxidation