Post-translational modifications (PTMs) of protein tyrosine (Tyr) residues can serve as a molecular fingerprint of exposure to distinct oxidative pathways and are observed in abnormally high abundance in the majority of human inflammatory pathologies. Reactive oxidants generated during inflammation include hypohalous acids and nitric oxide (NO) derived oxidants, which oxidatively modify protein Tyr residues via halogenation or nitration, respectively, forming 3-chloroTyr, 3-bromoTyr, and 3-nitroTyr. Traditional methods to generate oxidized or halogenated proteins involve non-specific chemical reactions that result in complex protein mixtures, making it difficult to ascribe observed functional changes to a site-specific PTM or to generate antibodies sensitive to site-specific oxidative PTMs. To overcome these challenges, we generated a system to efficiently and site-specifically incorporate chloroTyr, bromoTyr, and iodoTyr, and to a lesser extent nitroTyr into proteins in both bacterial and eukaryotic expression systems, relying on a novel amber stop codon-suppressing mutant synthetase (haloTyrRS)/tRNA pair derived from the Methanosarcina barkeri pyrrolysine synthetase system. We used this system to study the effects of oxidation on HDL-associated protein paraoxonase 1 (PON1), an enzyme with important anti-atherosclerosis and antioxidant functions. PON1 forms a ternary complex with HDL and myeloperoxidase (MPO) in vivo. MPO oxidizes PON1 at tyrosine 71 (Tyr71), resulting in a loss of PON1 enzymatic function, but it is unclear the extent to which chlorination or nitration of Tyr71 contributes to this loss of activity. To better understand this biological process and to demonstrate the utility of our GCE system, we generated PON1 site-specifically modified at Tyr71 with chloroTyr and nitroTyr in E. coli and mammalian cells. We demonstrate that either chlorination or nitration of Tyr71 significantly reduces PON1 enzymatic activity. This tool for site-specific incorporation of halotyrosine will be critical to understanding how exposure of proteins to hypohalous acids at sites of inflammation alters protein function and cellular physiology. Further, it will serve as a powerful tool for generating antibodies able to recognize site-specific oxidative PTMs.
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