mNeuCode Empowers Targeted Proteome Analysis of Arginine Dimethylation

Wang, Qianqian, et al. “mNeuCode Empowers Targeted Proteome Analysis of Arginine Dimethylation.” Analytical Chemistry 95.7 (2023): 3684-3693.


Characterization of protein arginine dimethylation presents significant challenges due to its occurrence at the substoichiometric level. To enable a targeted MS/MS analysis of these dimethylation sites, we developed the mNeuCode (methyl-neutron-coding) tag by metabolically labeling methylarginine with stable isotopes during cell culture, which generated a diagnostic peak containing the NeuCode isotopologue signature in a high-resolution MS scan. A software tool, termed NeuCodeFinder, was developed for screening the NeuCode signatures in mass spectra. Therefore, a targeted MS/MS workflow was established for proteome-wide discovery of arginine dimethylation. The efficacy and utility were demonstrated by identifying 176 arginine dimethylation sites residing on 70 proteins in HeLa cells. Among them, 38% of the sites and 29% of the dimethylated proteins are novel, including five novel arginine dimethylation sites on the protein FAM98A, which is a substrate of protein arginine methyltransferase 1 (PRMT1). Our results show that deletion of FAM98A in HeLa cells suppressed cell migration, and importantly, dimethylation-deficient mutation suppressed this process as well. Therefore, the PRMT1-FAM98A pathway mediates cell migration possibly through dimethylation of these newly identified sites of FAM98A. Our study might drive the methodological shift from shotgun-based to targeted proteome analysis for interrogation of the substoichiometric biomolecules by using NeuCode-enabled techniques.