Previous studies have shown that the neurosteroid analogue, 6-Azi-pregnanolone (6-AziP), photolabels voltage-dependent anion channels and proteins of approximately 55 kDa in rat brain membranes. The present study used two-dimensional electrophoresis and nanoelectrospray ionization ion-trap mass spectrometry (nano-ESI-MS) to identify the 55 kDa proteins (isoelectric point 4.8) as isoforms of β-tubulin. This identification was confirmed by immunoblot and immunoprecipitation of photolabeled protein with anti-β-tubulin antibody and by the demonstration that 6-AziP photolabels purified bovine brain tubulin in a concentration-dependent pattern. To identify the photolabeling sites, purified bovine brain tubulin was photolabeled with 6-AziP, digested with trypsin, and analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization MS (MALDI). A 6-AziP adduct of TAVCDIPPR(m/z = 1287.77), a β-tubulin specific peptide, was detected by MALDI. High-resolution liquid chromatography-MS/MS analysis identified that 6-AziP was covalently bound to cysteine 354 (Cys-354), previously identified as a colchicine-binding site. 6-AziP photolabeling was inhibited by 2-methoxyestradiol, an endogenous derivative of estradiol thought to bind to the colchicine site. Structural modeling predicted that neurosteroids could dock in this colchicine site at the interface between α- and β-tubulin with the photolabeling group of 6-AziP positioned proximate to Cys-354.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-674
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Mass spectrometry
  • Neurosteroids
  • Photolabeling
  • Tubulin


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