Synergistic sequence contributions bias glycation outcomes

McEwen, Joseph M., et al. “Synergistic Sequence Contributions Bias Glycation Outcomes.” Nature Communications, no. 1, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, June 2021. Crossref, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-23625-8.


The methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone isomer, MGH-1, is an abundant advanced glycation end-product (AGE) associated with disease and age-related disorders. As AGE formation occurs spontaneously and without an enzyme, it remains unknown why certain sites on distinct proteins become modified with specific AGEs. Here, we use a combinatorial peptide library to determine the chemical features that favor MGH-1. When properly positioned, tyrosine is found to play an active mechanistic role that facilitates MGH-1 formation. This work offers mechanistic insight connecting multiple AGEs, including MGH-1 and carboxyethylarginine (CEA), and reconciles the role of negative charge in influencing glycation outcomes. Further, this study provides clear evidence that glycation outcomes can be influenced through long- or medium-range cooperative interactions. This work demonstrates that these chemical features also predictably template selective glycation on full-length protein targets expressed in mammalian cells. This information is vital for developing methods that control glycation in living cells and will enable the study of glycation as a functional post-translational modification.