3D proteomics : analysis of proteins and protein complexes by chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry
The concept of 3D proteomics is a technique that couples chemical cross-linking with mass spectrometry and has emerged as a tool to study protein conformations and protein-protein interactions. In this thesis I present my work on improving the analytical workflow and developing applications for 3D proteomics in the structural analysis of proteins and protein complexes through four major tasks. I. As part of the technical development of an analytical workflow for 3D proteomics, a cross-linked peptide library was created by cross-linking a mixture of synthetic peptides. Analysis of this library generated a large dataset of cross-linked peptides. Characterizing the general features of cross-linked peptides using this dataset allowed me to optimize the settings for mass spectrometric analysis and to establish a charge based enrichment strategy for cross-linked peptides. In addition to this, 1185 manually validated high resolution fragmentation spectra gave an insight into general fragmentation behaviours of cross-linked peptides and facilitated the development of a cross-linked peptide search algorithm. II. The advanced 3D proteomics workflow was applied to study the architecture of the 670 kDa 15-subunit Pol II-TFIIF complex. This work established 3D proteomics as a structure analysis tool for large multi-protein complexes. The methodology was validated by comparing 3D proteomics analysis results and the X-ray crystallographic data on the 12-subunit Pol II core complex. Cross-links observed from the Pol II–TFIIF complex revealed interactions between the Pol II and TFIIF at the peptide level, which also reflected the dynamic nature of Pol II-TFIIF structure and implied possible Pol II conformational changes induced by TFIIF binding. III. Conformational changes of flexible protein molecules are often associated with specific functions of proteins or protein complexes. To quantitatively measure the differences between protein conformations, I developed a quantitative 3D proteomics strategy which combines isotope labelling and cross-linking with mass spectrometry and database searching. I applied this approach to detect in solution the conformational differences between complement component C3 and its active form C3b in solution. The quantitative cross-link data confirmed the previous observation made by X-ray crystallography. Moreover, this analysis detected the spontaneous hydrolysis of C3 in both C3 and C3b samples. The architecture of hydrolyzed C3-C3(H2O) was proposed based on the quantified cross-links and crystal structure of C3 and C3b, which revealed that C3(H2O) adopted the functional domain arrangement of C3b. This work demonstrated that quantitative 3D proteomics is a valuable tool for conformational analysis of proteins and protein complexes. IV. Encouraged by the achievements in the above applications with relatively large amounts of highly purified material, I explored the application of 3D proteomics on affinity purified tagged endogenous protein complexes. Using an on-beads process which connected cross-linking and an affinity purification step directly, provided increased sensitivity through minimized sample handling. A charge-based enrichment step was carried out to improve the detection of cross-linked peptides. The occurrence of cross-links between complexes was monitored by a SILAC based control. Cross-links observed from low micro-gram amounts of single-step purified endogenous protein complexes provided insights into the structural organization of the S. cerevisiae Mad1-Mad2 complex and revealed a conserved coiled-coil interruption in the S. cerevisiae Ndc80 complex. With this endeavour I have demonstrated that 3D proteomics has become a valuable tool for studying structure of proteins and protein complexes.
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