Protein covalent adducts formed upon exposure to reactive (mainly electrophilic) chemicals may lead to the development of a wide range of deleterious health outcomes. Therefore, the identification of protein covalent adducts constitutes a huge opportunity for a better understanding of events underlying diseases and for the development of biomarkers which may constitute effective tools for disease diagnosis/prognosis, for the application of personalized medicine approaches and for accurately assessing human exposure to chemical toxicants. The currently available mass spectrometry (MS)-based methodologies, are clearly the most suitable for the analysis of protein covalent modifications, providing accuracy, sensitivity, unbiased identification of the modified residue and conjugates along with quantitative information. However, despite the huge technological advances in MS instrumentation and bioinformatics tools, the identification of low abundant protein covalent adducts is still challenging. This review is aimed at summarizing the MS-based methodologies currently used for the identification of protein covalent adducts and the strategies developed to overcome the analytical challenges, involving not only sample pre-treatment procedures but also distinct MS and data analysis approaches.
- Mass spectrometry
- Protein covalent adducts