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Specific genomic functions are dictated by macromolecular complexes (MCs) containing multiple proteins. Affinity purification of these complexes, often using antibodies, followed by mass spectrometry (MS) has revolutionized our ability to identify the composition of MCs. However, conventional immunoprecipitations suffer from contaminating antibody/serum-derived peptides that limit the sensitivity of detection for low-abundant interacting partners using MS. Here, we present AptA-MS (aptamer affinity-mass spectrometry), a robust strategy primarily using a specific, high-affinity RNA aptamer against Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) to identify interactors of a GFP-tagged protein of interest by high-resolution MS. Utilizing this approach, we have identified the known molecular chaperones that interact with human Heat Shock Factor 1 (HSF1), and observed an increased association with several proteins upon heat shock, including translation elongation factors and histones. HSF1 is known to be regulated by multiple post-translational modifications (PTMs), and we observe both known and new sites of modifications on HSF1. We show that AptA-MS provides a dramatic target enrichment and detection sensitivity in evolutionarily diverse organisms and allows identification of PTMs without the need for modification-specific enrichments. In combination with the expanding libraries of GFP-tagged cell lines, this strategy offers a general, inexpensive, and high-resolution alternative to conventional approaches for studying MCs. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


Judhajeet Ray, Angela Kruse, Abdullah Ozer, Takuya Kajitani, Richard Johnson, Michael MacCoss, Michelle Heck, John T Lis. RNA aptamer capture of macromolecular complexes for mass spectrometry analysis. Nucleic acids research. 2020 Sep 04;48(15):e90

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PMID: 32609809

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