Protein sulfenylation is a post-translational modification of emerging importance in higher eukaryotes. However, investigation of its diverse roles remains challenging, particularly within a native cellular environment. Herein we report the development and application of DYn-2, a new chemoselective probe for detecting sulfenylated proteins in human cells. These studies show that epidermal growth factor receptor–mediated signaling results in H2O2 production and oxidation of downstream proteins. In addition, we demonstrate that DYn-2 has the ability to detect differences in sulfenylation rates within the cell, which are associated with differences in target protein localization. We also show that the direct modification of epidermal growth factor receptor by H2O2 at a critical active site cysteine (Cys797) enhances its tyrosine kinase activity. Collectively, our findings reveal sulfenylation as a global signaling mechanism that is akin to phosphorylation and has regulatory implications for other receptor tyrosine kinases and irreversible inhibitors that target oxidant-sensitive cysteines in proteins.
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The authors acknowledge funding from the Camille Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award (to K.S.C.) and the American Heart Association Scientist Development Award (0835419N to K.S.C.). The authors also wish to thank R. Petter for helpful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Paulsen, C., Truong, T., Garcia, F. et al. Peroxide-dependent sulfenylation of the EGFR catalytic site enhances kinase activity. Nat Chem Biol 8, 57–64 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.736
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