Synchrotron protein footprinting: A technique to investigate protein-protein interactions

Sharon C. Goldsmith, Jing Qu Guan, Steven C. Almo, Mark R. Chance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Traditional approaches for macromolecular structure elucidation, including NMR, crystallography and cryo-EM have made significant progress in defining the structures of protein-protein complexes. A substantial number of macromolecular structures, however, have not been examined with atomic detail due to sample size and heterogeneity, or resolution limitations of the technique; therefore, the general applicability of each method is greatly reduced. Synchrotron footprinting attempts to bridge the gap in these methods by monitoring changes in accessible surface areas of discrete macromolecular moieties. As evidenced by our previous studies on RNA folding and DNA-protein interactions, the three-dimensional structure is probed by examining the reactions of these moieties with hydroxyl radicals generated by synchrotron X-rays. Here we report the application of synchrotron foot- printing to the investigation of protein-protein interactions, as the novel technique has been utilized to successfully map the contact sites of gelsolin segment-1 in the gelsolin segment 1/actin complex. Footprinting results demonstrate that phenylalanine 104, located on the actin binding helix of gelsolin segment 1, is protected from hydroxyl radical modification in the presence of actin. This change in reactivity results from the specific protection of gel- solin segment-1, consistent with the substantial decrease in solvent accessibility of F104 upon actin binding, as calculated from the crystal structural of the gelsolin segment 1/actin complex. The results presented here establish synchrotron footprinting as a broadly applicable method to probe structural features of macromolecular complexes that are not amenable to conventional approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-418
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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