An alternative kinase activity assay for primary cultures derived from clinical isolates

Kristopher McLean, Yan Wu, Bing Siang Gan, David B O'Gorman

Abstract


Purpose: The measurement of protein kinase activity is central to understanding the signaling pathways that regulate cellular proliferation and apoptosis in virtually all disease processes. These measurements typically involve either indirect, time consuming assessment methods that require large amounts of sample, such as western immunoblotting, or the use of high maintenance, specialized equipment not typically available to a small clinical research facility. The purpose of this project was to determine if a benchtop Surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF-MS) unit could be used to detect and directly assess kinase activity of the serine/threonine kinase Akt.

Method: Biotinylated substrate peptides, predicted to be recognized and phosphorylated by Akt to varying extents, were incubated in crude lysates of primary cells derived directly from clinical isolates. Streptavidin-coated chips were then used to isolate the substrate peptides from the lysates after incubation. Finally SELDI-TOF-MS was used to detect the peptide substrates and identify any changes in mass resulting from phosphorylation.

Results: The biotinylated peptide substrates were readily detected and a simple, rapid procedure that allows direct measurement of Akt activity in less than 1 µg of cell lysate in a 2µL volume was developed. Further, a linear correlation between native to phospho-peptide ratios and SELDI-TOF-MS output demonstrated that this approach is semi-quantitative.

Conclusion: This assay avoids many of the pitfalls associated with the currently available kinase protocols as well as labour-intensive mass-spectrometry analysis by specialist laboratories. We propose that this approach may be a viable alternative for clinical research laboratories aiming to measure the activity of kinases in clinical isolates.

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