Bioanalytical verification of V-type nerve agent exposure: simultaneous detection of phosphonylated tyrosines and cysteine-containing disulfide-adducts derived from human albumin
Nerve agents still represent a serious threat to civilian and military personnel as demonstrated by the violent conflict in the Middle East. For verification of poisoning, covalent adducts with endogenous proteins (e.g., human serum albumin, HSA) are valuable long-term biomarkers. Accordingly, we developed a microbore liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry/high-resolution mass spectrometry (μLC-ESI MS/HR MS) method for simultaneous detection of HSA-adducts with the V-type nerve agents VX, Chinese VX (CVX), and Russian VX (RVX). Following Pronase-catalyzed proteolysis, novel disulfide-adducts were detected in addition to phosphonylated tyrosine residues. Dipeptide disulfide-adducts were formed between the thiol-containing leaving group of the V-type nerve agents (2-(diisopropylamino)ethanethiol, DPAET, for VX and 2-(diethylamino)ethanethiol, DEAET, for CVX and RVX) and the free thiol group of Cys34 in HSA (DPAET-CysPro, DEAET-CysPro). We also identified tripeptide disulfide-adducts containing Cys448 (MetProCys-DPAET, MetProCys-DEAET) and to a lesser extent Cys514 (AspIleCys-DPAET, AspIleCys-DEAET). Synthetic tripeptide references were used for confirmation of the postulated structures by μLC-ESI MS/HR MS. Lower limits of detection were determined in human plasma, being nearly identical for the three V-type nerve agents, and corresponded to 1–6 μM nerve agent for tyrosine-adducts, 1–3 μM nerve agent for CysPro-adducts, and 6 μM nerve agent for MetProCys-adducts, thus covering concentrations of toxicological relevance. Characterization of proteolysis kinetics revealed stable plateaus for all adducts being reached between 60 and 90 min at 37 °C. Adduct formation kinetics were characterized by simultaneously monitoring the V-type nerve agent, its leaving group, and the corresponding disulfide dimer. Furthermore, adduct formation patterns were investigated as a function of the molar ratio of HSA to V-type nerve agent.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-017-0787-7
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