Synchrotron Radiation-Induced X-Ray Emission to Identify Metal Ions in Preparations of Purified Protein

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The suitability of synchrotron radiation-induced X-ray emission (SRIXE) for the detection and identification of metal ions in preparations of purified, soluble proteins was tested. Glutathione S-transferase fused to the proximal zinc finger motif of human transcription factor IIIA or to the cysteine-rich motif of poliovirus protein 2C was expressed in bacteria and purified by affinity chromatography. Aqueous samples containing the purified proteins were analyzed with SRIXE, and trace amounts of zinc and iron were detected. Mutation of the zinc-coordinating residues in the cysteine-rich motif of poliovirus protein 2C resulted in the loss of the zinc-binding ability. Relative quantities of metal in the protein preparations as determined by SRIXE corresponded well with the metal:protein ratios calculated by using a 4-(2-pyridylazo)resorcinol-based assay. We conclude that SRIXE is an accurate, sensitive, and simple method for the detection and identification of protein-bound metal ions in small amounts of sample. Thus, SRIXE may have wide use as a particularly effective method for rapidly determining trace metals in microarray samples.

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