Monocrotaline pyrrole targets proteins with and without cysteine residues in the cytosol and membranes of human pulmonary artery endothelial cells

Michael W. Lamé, A. Daniel Jones, Dennis W Wilson, H. J. Segall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A single injection of monocrotaline produces a pulmonary insult in rats with a phenotype similar to human primary pulmonary hypertension. Although extensively used as a model, the mechanism(s) by which this chemical insult mimics a condition with genetic and environmental links remains an enigma, although formation of protein adducts has been implicated. Monocrotaline (MCT) is non-toxic and must undergo hepatic dehydrogenation to the soft electrophile monocrotaline pyrrole as prerequisite to damaging endothelial cells lining arterioles at remote pulmonary sites. In this report we extend our earlier investigation (J. Biol. Chem. 2000, 275, 29091-29099) by examining protein adducts to lower abundance adducts, a pI range not covered before, and subcellular localization of adduct-forming proteins associated with plasma membranes. Human pulmonary artery endothelial cells were exposed to [ 14C]MCT pyrrole (MCTP) and protein targets were identified using 2-DE with IPG 4-11. Adducted proteins were identified by pI, apparent molecular weight, and PMF using MALDI-TOF MS. Results of this study show that the majority of adducts form on proteins that contain reactive thiols in a CXXC motif, such as protein disulfide isomerase A3 (ERp57), protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), and endothelial PDI. These same proteins were the major adduct-forming proteins associated with the plasma membrane. Other proteins found to be targets were thioredoxin, galectin-1, reticulocalbin 1 and 3, cytoskeletal tropomyosin, mitochondrial ATP synthase β-chain, annexin A2 and cofilin-1. For the first time, MCTP adducts were observed on proteins not known to contain cysteine residues. However, known reactive proteins including nudeophosmin did not form detectable adducts, potentially indicating that MCTP did not reach the interior of nucleus to the same extent as other cellular sites. These findings suggest that molecular events underlying MCTP toxicity are initiated at the plasma membrane or readily accessible subcellular regions including the cytosol and membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4398-4413
Number of pages16
Issue number17
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Monocrotaline
  • Monocrotaline pyrrole
  • Protein adducts
  • Pulmonary hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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