New Tool Quantifies Costumed Nucleosides | September 21, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 38 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 38 | p. 35 | Concentrates
Issue Date: September 21, 2009

New Tool Quantifies Costumed Nucleosides

A proteomics-based approach provides the means to quantify the number of individual modified bases in a cell
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: Nucleosides, microRNA

Nucleosides that form human transfer RNA, messenger RNA, and an assortment of microRNAs are decorated with about 100 different posttranslational modifications, from added methyl groups to added sugars. These modifications serve a variety of functions, such as helping a tRNA maintain its three-dimensional structure and recognize the amino acid it is meant to carry as well as where to deliver it. Despite widespread distribution of modified nucleosides in humans, researchers haven’t been able to quantify the number of individual modified bases in a cell. Now, a team led by Thomas Carell of Ludwig Maximilians University, in Munich, Germany, has developed a proteomics-based approach that aims to do just that (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 10.1002/anie.200902740). The researchers first synthesized deuterated versions of six modified nucleosides, including isopentenyl­adenosine (i6A), and then spiked cell extracts with the compounds. By comparing the mass spectrometry peaks of the known amount of deuterated nucleoside with those of natural nucleosides in the sample, the team determined the number of modifications. To test the method, they compared the levels of modified nucleosides in cancerous versus normal mouse cells, observing changes in the amounts of several nucleosides.

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