Mapping the topology and determination of a low-resolution three-dimensional structure of the calmodulin-melittin complex by chemical cross-linking and high-resolution FTICRMS: direct demonstration of multiple binding modes

Biochemistry. 2004 Apr 27;43(16):4703-15. doi: 10.1021/bi036149f.


Calmodulin serves as a calcium-dependent regulator in many metabolic pathways and is known to bind with high affinity to various target proteins and peptides. One such target is the small peptide melittin, the principal component of honeybee venom. The calmodulin-melittin system was used as a model system to gain further insight into target recognition of calmodulin. Using chemical cross-linking in combination with high-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FTICRMS), we have determined the interacting regions within the calcium-dependent calmodulin-melittin complex and thus the orientation of bound melittin. Using ambiguous distance restraints derived from the chemical cross-linking data in combination with recently developed computational methods of conjoined rigid body/torsion angle simulated annealing, we were able to generate low-resolution three-dimensional structure models of the calmodulin-melittin complex, for which no high-resolution structure exists to date. Our data provide evidence for the first time that calmodulin can recognize target peptides in two opposing orientations simultaneously. The general procedure for mapping interacting regions within the complex involves conjugation of calmodulin and melittin with several cross-linking reagents possessing different specificities and spacer lengths, followed by enzymatic proteolysis of the cross-linked complex. The highly complex peptide mixtures were subsequently analyzed by nano-HPLC, which was online coupled to a FTICR mass spectrometer equipped with a nano-electrospray ionization source. The mass spectra obtained in this manner were screened for possible cross-linking products using customized software programs. This integrated approach, exemplified for mapping the topology of the calmodulin-melittin complex, is likely to have wide-ranging implications for structural studies on protein-protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calmodulin / chemistry*
  • Calmodulin / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Combinatorial Chemistry Techniques
  • Cross-Linking Reagents / chemistry*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Ethyldimethylaminopropyl Carbodiimide / chemistry
  • Hydrolysis
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Melitten / chemistry*
  • Melitten / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Succinimides / chemistry


  • Calmodulin
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Succinimides
  • Melitten
  • N-hydroxysulfosuccinimide
  • bis(sulfosuccinimidyl)suberate
  • Endopeptidases
  • Ethyldimethylaminopropyl Carbodiimide