The hydroxyl radical-mediated oxidation of peptides and proteins constitutes a large group of post-translational modifications that can result in structural and functional changes. These oxidations can lead to hydroxylation, sulfoxidation, or carbonylation of certain amino acid residues and cleavage of peptide bonds. In addition, hydroxyl radicals can convert the N-terminus of peptides to an α-ketoamide via abstraction of the N-terminal α-hydrogen and hydrolysis of the ketimine intermediate. In the present study, we identified N-terminal cyclization as a novel modification mediated by a hydroxyl radical. The reaction of angiotensin (Ang) II (DRVYIHPF) and the hydroxyl radical generated by the Cu(II)/ascorbic acid (AA) system or UV/hydrogen peroxide system produced N-terminal cyclized-Ang II (Ang C) and pyruvamide-Ang II (Ang P, CH3COCONH-RVYIHPF). The structure of Ang C was confirmed by mass spectrometry and comparison to an authentic standard. The subsequent incubation of isolated Ang P in the presence of Cu(II)/AA revealed that Ang P was the direct precursor of Ang C. The proposed mechanism involves the formation of a nitrogen-centered (aminyl) radical, which cyclizes to form a five-membered ring containing the alkoxy radical. The subsequent β-scission reaction of the alkoxyl radical results in the cleavage of the terminal CH3CO group. The initial aminyl radical can be stabilized by chelation to the Cu(II) ions. The affinity of Ang C toward the Ang II type 1 receptor was significantly lower than that of Ang II or Ang P. Ang C was not further metabolized by aminopeptidase A, which converts Ang II to Ang III. Hydroxyl radical-mediated N-terminal cyclization was also observed in other Ang peptides containing N-terminal alanine, arginine, valine, and amyloid β 1-11 (DAEFRHDSGYE).
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