Porphyrin mediated photo-modification of the structure and function of human serum albumin
Photosensitization reactions involve irradiating (with visible light) molecules with a high efficiency for either electron transfer or entering an excited triplet state (photosensitizer). Such reactions are applied to photodynamic cancer therapy, many medical laser-treatments, and a potential array of disinfection and pest elimination techniques. To understand the biophysical mechanisms of how these applications are effective at the protein level, the group of Dr. Brancaleon (UTSA) has investigated the irradiation of several dye-protein combinations, and discovered effects on protein structure and function. To further that work, we have investigated irradiation of the protein, human serum albumin (HSA), photosensitized by either protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) or meso-tetrakis(4-sulfonatophenyl)porphyrin (TSPP). HSA is the most abundant plasma protein, making it a likely substrate in PDT, and it possesses a specific binding pocket for iron-PPIX (heme) and possibly other porphyrin derivatives.
The results of our research are summarized as follows. First, a thorough characterization of the binding of each photosensitizer to albumin was completed, elucidating a probable binding location for TSPP. Next, fluorescence lifetime emission of the single tryptophan residue, alongside circular dichroism, found tertiary structural changes around tryptophan and an overall 20% decrease in protein secondary structure after irradiation with TSPP bound. Finally, to determine if protein function was lost after photosensitization, size exclusion chromatography found modified albumin still recognizable by its receptor-protein, and comparative ex vivo up-take studies revealed that modified albumin is not processed the same way as native albumin in live tapeworm larva (Mesocestoides corti). Thus we found that visible light can induce partial unfolding of a protein by using a photo-activated ligand. These small structural modifications were sufficient to affect the protein's biological function.