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Sensitive Western-Blot Analysis of Azide-Tagged Protein Post Translational Modifications Using Thermoresponsive Polymer Self-Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 28.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Tong Liu, Wanjun Zhang, Zheng Zhang, Mingli Chen, Jianhua Wang, Xiaohong Qian, Weijie Qin
Western-blot (WB) is a powerful analytical technique for protein identification in complex biological samples and has been widely used in biological studies for decades. Detection specificity and sensitivity of WB largely relies on quality of the antibodies and performance of the conjugated HRP. However, the application of WB analysis for the detection of protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) is hampered by the low abundance of protein PTMs and by the limited availability of antibodies that specifically differentiate various kinds of PTMs from their protein substrates. Therefore, new recognition mechanisms and signal amplification strategies for WB analysis of protein PTMs is in high demand. In this work, we prepared a soluble polymer that detects various azide-tagged PTM proteins in WB analysis using triarylphosphine and HRP modified thermoresponsive polymer. Specific and efficient detection of azide-tagged PTM protein is achieved via the bioorthogonal reaction between azide and triarylphosphine. More importantly, the chemiluminiscent signal in the WB analysis is largely amplified by the temperature induced self-assembly of numerous thermoresponsive polymer chains carrying multiple HRPs. As a result, approximately 100 times more sensitive detection than commercial antibodies is achieved by this method using standard PTM proteins. Though, this new reagent does not directly detect native PTMs in cell, tissue or blood samples, it still has important application potential in protein PTM studies, considering the wide availability of azide-tagging techniques to a variety of PTMs.