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Free Content Biochemical approaches for discovering protein–protein interactions

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Protein–protein interactions or protein complexes are integral in nearly all cellular processes, ranging from metabolism to structure. Elucidating both individual protein associations and complex protein interaction networks, while challenging, is an essential goal of functional genomics. For example, discovering interacting partners for a ‘protein of unknown function’ can provide insight into actual function far beyond what is possible with sequence-based predictions, and provide a platform for future research. Synthetic genetic approaches such as two-hybrid screening often reveal a perplexing array of potential interacting partners for any given target protein. It is now known, however, that this type of anonymous screening approach can yield high levels of false-positive results, and therefore putative interactors must be confirmed by independent methods. In vitro biochemical strategies for identifying interacting proteins are varied and time-honored, some being as old as the field of protein chemistry itself. Herein we discuss five biochemical approaches for isolating and characterizing protein–protein interactions in vitro: co-immunoprecipitation, blue native gel electrophoresis, in vitro binding assays, protein cross-linking, and rate-zonal centrifugation. A perspective is provided for each method, and where appropriate specific, trial-tested methods are included.
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Keywords: co-immunoprecipitation; electrophoresis; mass spectrometry; protein binding; proteomics; sedimentation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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