The chemical labeling of proteins with synthetic probes is a key technique used in chemical biology, protein-based therapy, and material science. Much of the chemical labeling of native proteins, however, depends on the labeling of lysine and cysteine residues. While those methods have significantly contributed to native protein labeling, alternative methods that can modify different amino acid residues are still required. Herein we report the development of a novel methodology of tyrosine labeling, inspired by the luminol chemiluminescence reaction. Tyrosine residues are often exposed on a protein's surface and are thus expected to be good targets for protein functionalization. In our studies so far, we have found that 1) hemin oxidatively activates luminol derivatives as a catalyst, 2. N-methyl luminol derivative specifically forms a covalent bond with a tyrosine residue among the 20 kinds of natural amino acid residues, and 3) the efficiency of tyrosine labeling with N-methyl luminol derivative is markedly improved by using horseradish peroxidase (HRP) as a catalyst. We were able to use molecular oxygen as an oxidant under HRP/NADH conditions. By using these methods, the functionalization of purified proteins was carried out. Because N-methyl luminol derivative is an excellent protein labeling reagent that responds to the activation of peroxidase, this new method is expected to open doors to such biological applications as the signal amplification of HRP-conjugated antibodies and the detection of protein association in combination with peroxidase-tag technology.
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