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Biochemistry. 1998 Mar 31;37(13):4397-406.

Determining protein-protein interactions by oxidative cross-linking of a glycine-glycine-histidine fusion protein.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94131, USA.


The Ni(II) complex of the tripeptide NH2-glycine-glycine-histidine-COOH (GGH) mediates efficient protein-protein cross-linking in the presence of oxidants such as oxone and monoperoxyphthalic acid (MMPP). Here we demonstrate that GGH fused to the amino terminus of a protein can still support cross-linking. The tripeptide was expressed at the amino terminus of ecotin, a dimeric macromolecular serine protease inhibitor found in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. In the presence of Ni(OAc)2 and MMPP, GGH-ecotin is cross-linked to give a species that has an apparent molecular mass of a GGH-ecotin dimer with no observable protein degradation. The cross-linking reaction occurs between two ecotin proteins in a dimer complex. Furthermore, GGH-ecotin can be cross-linked to a serine protease target, trypsin, and the reaction is specific for proteins that interact with ecotin. The cross-linking reaction has been carried out on small peptides, and the reaction products have been analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. The target of the reaction is tyrosine, and the product is bityrosyl cross-links. The yield of the cross-linking is on the order of 15%. However, the reaction efficiency can be increased 4-fold by a single amino acid substitution in the carboxy terminus of ecotin that places an engineered tyrosine within 5 A of a naturally occurring tyrosine. This cross-linking methodology allows for the protein cross-linking reagent to be encoded for at the DNA level, thus circumventing the need for posttranslational modification.

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