Near-native, site-specific and purification-free protein labeling for quantitative protein interaction analysis by MicroScale Thermophoresis

Tanja Bartoschik, Stefanie Galinec, Christian Kleusch, Katarzyna Walkiewicz, Dennis Breitsprecher, Sebastian Weigert, Yves A. Muller, Changjiang You, Jacob Piehler, Thomas Vercruysse, Dirk Daelemans & Nuska Tschammer

Scientific Reports
2018 vol: 8 article number: 4977 doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23154-3

Abstract
MicroScale Thermophoresis (MST) is a frequently used method for the quantitative characterization of intermolecular interactions with several advantages over other technologies. One of these is its capability to determine equilibrium constants in solution including complex biological matrices such as cell lysates. MST requires one binding partner to be fluorescent, which is typically achieved by labeling target proteins with a suitable fluorophore. Here, we present a near-native, site-specific in situ labeling strategy for MST experiments that enables reliable measurements in cell lysates and that has distinct advantages over routine covalent labeling techniques. To this end, we exploited the high-affinity interaction of tris-NTA with oligohistidine-tags, which are popular for purification, immobilization or detection of recombinant proteins. We used various DYE-tris-NTA conjugates to successfully label His-tagged proteins that were either purified or a component of cell lysate. The RED-tris-NTA was identified as the optimal dye conjugate with a high affinity towards oligohistidine-tags, a high fluorescence signal and an optimal signal-to-noise ratio in MST binding experiments. Owing to its emission in the red region of the spectrum, it also enables reliable measurements in complex biological matrices such as cell lysates allowing a more physiologically realistic assessment and eliminating the need for protein purification.

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Topics: Chemical tools, Techniques and instrumentation, Monolith – MicroScale Thermophoresis, MST, Proteins, Publications