Small peptide substrates and high resolution peptide gels for the analysis of site-specific protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation


  • Laura Johnson Battle University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Timothy C. Chambers University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, College of Medicine



Cyclin-dependent kinase-1, Bcl-xL, caspase-9, peptide phosphorylation, peptide dephosphorylation, high resolution peptide gels


Protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation reactions play key regulatory roles in many fundamental cellular processes. Due to the large number of kinases and phosphatases in the genome, the identification of the specific enzymes responsible for a given site in a given protein is immensely challenging. However, because protein kinases and phosphatases recognize local specificity determinants within proteins, it is possible to use small peptides to study the characteristics of site-specific phosphorylation. In addition, phosphorylation usually causes retardation in gel mobility, providing an opportunity to investigate peptide phosphorylation and dephosphorylation by monitoring migration on high resolution peptide gels. In this study, we demonstrate the utility of such a technique using small peptides corresponding to cyclin-dependent kinase-1 (Cdk1)/cyclin B1 sites in two important apoptotic regulatory proteins, Bcl-xL and caspase-9. We show that the mobility of the peptides is retarded following Cdk1-mediated phosphorylation, and that peptide dephosphorylation, catalyzed either by purified phosphatase or by crude cell extracts, is readily observable by increased peptide gel mobility. Furthermore, the procedure can be conducted without the use of radioactive adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and does not require any specialized reagents or apparatus. The method can be used to identify and characterize specific kinase and phosphatases responsible for phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of specific sites in any protein of interest.


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How to Cite

Battle LJ, Chambers TC. Small peptide substrates and high resolution peptide gels for the analysis of site-specific protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. J Biol Methods [Internet]. 2017Aug.2 [cited 2022May27];4(3):e76. Available from: