Membrane Protein Structure in Live Cells: Methodology for Studying Drug Interaction by Mass Spectrometry-Based Footprinting.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochemistry, Volume 57, Issue 3, p.286-294 (2018)


Cysteine, Detergents, HEK293 Cells, Humans, Isotope Labeling, Ligands, Mass Spectrometry, Membrane Proteins, Protein Conformation, Solubility, Vitamin K Epoxide Reductases, Warfarin


<p>Mass spectrometry-based footprinting is an emerging approach for studying protein structure. Because integral membrane proteins are difficult targets for conventional structural biology, we recently developed a mass spectrometry (MS) footprinting method to probe membrane protein-drug interactions in live cells. This method can detect structural differences between apo and drug-bound states of membrane proteins, with the changes inferred from MS quantification of the cysteine modification pattern, generated by residue-specific chemical labeling. Here, we describe the experimental design, interpretation, advantages, and limitations of using cysteine footprinting by taking as an example the interaction of warfarin with vitamin K epoxide reductase, a human membrane protein. Compared with other structural methods, footprinting of proteins in live cells produces structural information for the near native state. Knowledge of cellular conformational states is a necessary complement to the high-resolution structures obtained from purified proteins in vitro. Thus, the MS footprinting method is broadly applicable in membrane protein biology. Future directions include probing flexible motions of membrane proteins and their interaction interface in live cells, which are often beyond the reach of conventional structural methods.</p>