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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2007 May;18(5):869-81. Epub 2007 Mar 8.

Detection of protein-RNA crosslinks by NanoLC-ESI-MS/MS using precursor ion scanning and multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) experiments.

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Applera Deutschland GmbH, Darmstadt, Germany.


Protein-RNA interactions within ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs) can be investigated by UV-induced crosslinking of proteins to their cognate RNAs and subsequent isolation and mass-spectrometric analysis of crosslinked peptide-RNA oligonucleotides. Because of the low crosslinking yield, a major challenge in protein-RNA UV crosslinking is the detection of the crosslinked species over the excess of non-crosslinked material, especially when complex systems (native RNPs) are investigated. Here, we applied a novel approach that uses on-line nanoLC-ESI-MS/MS to detect and subsequently sequence peptide-RNA oligonucleotide crosslinks from crude mixtures. To detect the crosslinks we made use of features shared by crosslinks and phosphopeptides, that is, the phosphate groups that both carry. A precursor ion scan for m/z 79 (negative-ion mode, -ve) is applied to selectively detect analytes bearing the phosphate-containing species (i.e., residual non-crosslinked RNA and peptide-RNA crosslinks) from crude mixtures and to determine their exact m/z values. On this basis, a multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) experiment monitors the expected decomposition from the different precursor charge states of the putative crosslinks to one of the four possible RNA nucleobases [m/z 112, 113, 136, 152 (positive-ion mode, +ve)]. On detection, a high-quality MS/MS is triggered to establish the structure of the crosslink. In a feasibility study, we detected and subsequently sequenced peptide-RNA crosslinks obtained by UV-irradiation of (1) native U1 snRNPs and (2) [15.5K-61K-U4atac] snRNPs prepared by reconstitution in vitro. MRM-triggered collision-induced dissociation (CID) MS/MS enabled us to obtain sequence information about the crosslinked peptide and RNA moiety.

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