Precise Readout of MEK1 Proteoforms upon MAPK Pathway Modulation by Individual Ion Mass Spectrometry

Bryon S. Drown, Raveena Gupta, John P. McGee, Michael A.R. Hollas, Paul J. Hergenrother, Jared O. Kafader, Neil L. Kelleher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The functions of proteins bearing multiple post-translational modifications (PTMs) are modulated by their modification patterns, yet precise characterization of them is difficult. MEK1 (also known as MAP2K1) is one such example that acts as a gatekeeper of the mitogen-activating protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and propagates signals via phosphorylation by upstream kinases. In principle, top-down mass spectrometry can precisely characterize whole MEK1 proteoforms, but fragmentation methods that would enable the site-specific characterization of labile modifications on 43 kDa protein ions result in overly dense tandem mass spectra. By using the charge-detection method called individual ion mass spectrometry, we demonstrate how complex mixtures of phosphoproteoforms and their fragment ions can be reproducibly handled to provide a “bird’s eye” view of signaling activity through mapping proteoform landscapes in a pathway. Using this approach, the overall stoichiometry and distribution of 0-4 phosphorylations on MEK1 was determined in a cellular model of drug-resistant metastatic melanoma. This approach can be generalized to other multiply modified proteoforms, for which PTM combinations are key to their function and drug action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4455-4462
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 19 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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