Mammalian metallothioneins (MT), are characteristically N-alpha-acetylated and the presence of an unblocked N-terminus has not previously been reported. On-line capillary electrophoresis-electrospray mass spectrometry of hepatic MT-2 from rats injected with zinc revealed two isoforms differing by a mass equivalent to that of a single acetyl group. The lower mass component constituted > 20% of total MT-2 protein and both MT-2 isoforms were separated by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. The identity of each fraction was confirmed by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation mass spectrometry, and amino acid analysis and N-terminal sequencing revealed that the lower mass isoform was unblocked at the N-terminus and had an amino acid composition and sequence which is characteristic of rat MT-2. Thus the complementary techniques of mass spectrometry and K-terminal sequencing demonstrated conclusively that purified MT-2 from zinc-treated rats contains an unacetylated isoform. We propose that the cotranslational acetylation of rat MT-2 may under some circumstances be inefficient compared to that in other nonrodent species, where we have detected only trace levels of unacetylated MT isoforms.
|Number of pages||6|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 1999|
- capillary electrophoresis
- mass spectrometry
- electrokinetic capillary chromatography