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Proteomics. 2012 May;12(10):1565-75. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201100516.

In vivo protein complex topologies: sights through a cross-linking lens.

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Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Proteins are a remarkable class of molecules that exhibit wide diversity of shapes or topological features that underpin protein interactions and give rise to biological function. In addition to quantitation of abundance levels of proteins in biological systems under a variety of conditions, the field of proteome research has as a primary mission the assignment of function for proteins and if possible, illumination of factors that enable function. For many years, chemical cross-linking methods have been used to provide structural data on single purified proteins and purified protein complexes. However, these methods also offer the alluring possibility to extend capabilities to complex biological samples such as cell lysates or intact living cells where proteins may exhibit native topological features that do not exist in purified form. Recent efforts are beginning to provide glimpses of protein complexes and topologies in cells that suggest continued development will yield novel capabilities to view functional topological features of many proteins and complexes as they exist in cells, tissues, or other complex samples. This review will describe rationale, challenges, and a few success stories along the path of development of cross-linking technologies for measurement of in vivo protein interaction topologies.

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