Proteomics reveals the in vitro protein digestibility of seven transmembrane enzymes from the docosahexaenoic acid biosynthesis pathway.


CSIRO Agriculture and Food, 306 Carmody Rd, St Lucia, QLD, 4067, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


The measurement of protein digestibility is one of the key steps in determining the safety of a genetically modified crop that has been traditionally accomplished using antibodies. Membrane proteins are often extremely difficult to express with replicated authentic tertiary structure in heterologous systems. As a result raising antibodies for use in safety assessment may not be feasible. In this study, LC-MS based proteomics was used to characterise seven transmembrane enzymes from the docosahexaenoic acid biosynthetic pathway that had been introduced into canola. The application of a two-stage digestion strategy involving simulated gastric fluid followed by trypsin enabled the measurement of protein digestibility in vitro. Tryptic peptide markers that spanned the length of each desaturase protein were monitored and showed that these proteins were readily degraded (>95% within 5 min) and highlighted regions of the elongase enzymes that showed limited resistance to simulated gastric digestion. Traditional gel-based and Western blotting analysis of ω3-desaturase and Δ6-elongase revealed rapid hydrolysis of the intact proteins within seconds and no fragments (>3 kDa) remained after 60 min, complementing the novel approach described herein. The LC-MS approach was sensitive, selective and did not require the use of purified proteins.


Canola,Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA),Genetic modification,Omega-3 long-chain fatty acids,Protein digestibility,