Ubiquitin (Ub) and the ubiquitin-like proteins (Ubls) comprise a remarkable assortment of polypeptides that are covalently conjugated to target proteins (or other biomolecules) to modulate their intracellular localization, half-life, and/or activity. Identification of Ub/Ubl conjugation sites on a protein of interest can thus be extremely important for understanding how it is regulated. While MS has become a powerful tool for the study of many classes of PTMs, the identification of Ub/Ubl conjugation sites presents a number of unique challenges. Here, we present an improved Ub/Ubl conjugation site identification strategy, utilizing SUMmOn analysis and an additional protease (lysyl endopeptidase C), as a complement to standard approaches. As compared with standard trypsin proteolysis-database search protocols alone, the addition of SUMmOn analysis can (i) identify Ubl conjugation sites that are not detected by standard database searching methods, (ii) better preserve Ub/Ubl conjugate identity, and (iii) increase the number of identifications of Ub/Ubl modifications in lysine-rich protein regions. Using this methodology, we characterize for the first time a number of novel Ubl linkages and conjugation sites, including alternative yeast (K54) and mammalian small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO) chain (SUMO-2 K42, SUMO-3 K41) assemblies, as well as previously unreported NEDD8 chain (K27, K33, and K54) topologies.
Jeram, S. M., Srikumar, T., Zhang, X-D., Eisenhauer, H. A., Rogers, R., Pedrioli, P. G. A., Matunis, M., & Raught, B. (2010). An improved SUMmOn-based methodology for the identification of ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like protein conjugation sites identifies novel ubiquitin-like protein chain linkages. Proteomics, 10(2), 254-265. https://doi.org/10.1002/pmic.200900648