Separation of metalloproteins using a novel metal ion contaminant sweeping technique and detection of protein-bound copper by a metal ion probe in polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis: distribution of copper in human serum†
A polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE)-based method has been developed, consisting of two types of gel electrophoresis, to obtain an accurate distribution of protein-bound metal ions in biological samples. First, proteins are separated by PAGE without the uptake of contaminant metal ions in the separation field and dissociation of metal ions from the proteins. This is followed by another PAGE for the separation and detection of protein-bound metal ions in small volume samples with high sensitivity in the ppt range using a fluorescent metal probe. The former is a new technique using blue-native (BN) PAGE to electrophoretically sweep all metal contaminants by employing two kinds of chelating agents. These agents form complexes with contaminants in the gel and the separation buffer solution, which migrate towards opposite pole directions, thus lowering the contaminants to below the ppt level during separation. This is termed “Metal Ion Contaminant Sweeping BN-PAGE (MICS-BN-PAGE)”. After the separation of proteins under these first metal-free conditions, the metal ions in the gel fractions are eluted, followed by derivatization of copper ions into the metal probe complexes to be separated and determined by fluorescence detection in the second PAGE. In this PAGE-based method, the copper ions bound to ceruloplasmin and superoxide dismutase were quantitatively determined, in addition to the exchangeable albumin-bound copper ions. This system successfully provided distribution maps of protein–copper in human serum. The precise distribution of copper in human serum was investigated, and found to be different from that which is widely accepted.