Coupling surface plasmon resonance to mass spectrometry to discover novel protein-protein interactions

Nat Protoc. 2009;4(7):1023-37. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.84. Epub 2009 Jun 11.


The elucidation of protein-protein interaction networks is a crucial task in the postgenomic era. In this protocol, we describe our approach to discover protein-protein interactions using the surface plasmon resonance technique coupled to mass spectrometry (MS). A peptide or a protein is immobilized on a sensor chip and then exposed to brain extracts injected through the surface of the chip by a microfluidic system. The interactions between the immobilized ligand and the extracts can be monitored in real time. Proteins interacting with the peptide/protein are recovered, trypsinated and identified using MS. The data obtained are searched against a sequence database using the Mascot 2.1 software. Control experiments using blank sensor chips and/or randomized peptides are carried out to exclude nonspecific interactors. The protocol can be carried out in <3 days. Other methods, such as yeast two-hybrid systems or pull-down approaches followed by MS, are widely used to screen protein-protein interactions. However, as the yeast two-hybrid system requires protein interactions in the nucleus of yeast, proteins that are abundant in other compartments may not be detected. Pull-down approaches based on immunoprecipitation can be used to study endogenous proteins but they require specific antibodies. The protocol presented here does not require the specific labeling or modification of proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Protein Interaction Mapping / methods*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance / methods*


  • Proteins