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The number of publications in the field of chemical cross-linking combined with mass spectrometry (XL-MS) to derive constraints for protein three-dimensional structure modeling and to probe protein-protein interactions has largely increased during the last years. As the technique is now becoming routine for in vitro and in vivo applications in proteomics and structural biology there is a pressing need to define protocols as well as data analysis and reporting formats that are generally accepted in the field and that have shown to lead to high-quality results. This first, community-based harmonization study on XL-MS is based on the results of 32 groups participating worldwide. The aim of this paper is to summarize the status quo of XL-MS and to compare and evaluate existing cross-linking strategies. From the results obtained, common protocols will be established. Our study serves as basis for establishing best practice guidelines in the field for conducting cross-linking experiments, performing data analysis, and reporting formats with the ultimate goal of assisting scientists to generate accurate and reproducible XL-MS results.

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