Microfluidic Mobility Shift Assay for Real-Time Analysis of Peptide N-Palmitoylation
Lanyon-Hogg T., Patel NV., Ritzefeld M., Boxall KJ., Burke R., Blagg J., Magee AI., Tate EW.
The Hedgehog pathway is a key developmental signaling pathway but is also implicated in many types of cancer. The extracellular signaling protein Sonic hedgehog (Shh) requires dual lipidation for functional signaling, whereby N-terminal palmitoylation is performed by the enzyme Hedgehog acyltransferase (Hhat). Hhat is an attractive target for small-molecule inhibition to arrest Hedgehog signaling, and methods for assaying Hhat activity are central to understanding its function. However, all existing assays to quantify lipidation of peptides suffer limitations, such as safety hazards, high costs, extensive manual handling, restriction to stopped-assay measurements, or indirect assessment of lipidation. To address these limitations, we developed a microfluidic mobility shift assay (MSA) to analyze Shh palmitoylation. MSA allowed separation of fluorescently labeled Shh amine-substrate and palmitoylated Shh amide-product peptides based on differences in charge and hydrodynamic radius, coupled with online fluorescence intensity measurements for quantification. The MSA format was employed to study Hhat-catalyzed reactions, investigate Hhat kinetics, and determine small-molecule inhibitor IC50 values. Both real-time and stopped assays were performed, with the latter achieved via addition of excess unlabeled Shh peptide. The MSA format therefore allows direct and real-time fluorescence-based measurement of acylation and represents a powerful alternative technique in the study of N-lipidation.