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A Fast Lysine Cross-linker DOPA Enables Mass Spectrometry Analyses of Protein Unfolding and Weak Protein-protein Interactions

By Jian-Hua Wang, Yu-Liang Tang, Rohit Jain, Fan Xiao, Zhou Gong, Yu Zhou, Dan Tan, Qiang Li, Xu Dong, Shu-Qun Liu, Chun Tang, Niu Huang, Keqiong Ye, Meng-Qiu Dong, Xiaoguang Lei

Posted 05 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.05.369280

Chemical cross-linking of proteins coupled with mass spectrometry analysis (CXMS) has become a widely used method for protein structure analysis. Central to this technology are chemical cross-linkers. The most popular cross-linkers are N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) esters, which react with protein amino groups relatively slowly over 10 minutes or more while in competition with the hydrolysis reaction of NHS esters. To improve the speed of cross-linking, we developed a new class of amine-selective and non-hydrolyzable di-ortho-phthalaldehyde (DOPA) cross-linkers. DOPA can cross-link proteins in 10 seconds under near physiological conditions, which is 60 times faster than the NHS ester cross-linker DSS. DOPA also works at low pH, low temperature, or in the presence of high concentrations of denaturants such as 8 M urea or 6 M guanidine hydrochloride. Further, DOPA-mediated pulse cross-linking captured the dynamic conformational changes associated with RNase A unfolding. Lastly, DOPA outperformed DSS at capturing weak but specific protein-protein interactions. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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