Application of affinity selection-mass spectrometry assays to purification and affinity-based screening of the chemokine receptor CXCR4

Comb Chem High Throughput Screen. 2012 Jul;15(6):473-85. doi: 10.2174/138620712800563945.


Affinity selection-mass spectrometry (AS-MS) is a sensitive technology for identifying small molecules that bind to target proteins, and assays enabled by AS-MS can be used to delineate relative binding affinities of ligands for proteins. 'Indirect' AS-MS assays employ size-exclusion techniques to separate target-ligand complexes from unbound ligands, and target-associated ligands are then specifically detected by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. We report how indirect AS-MS binding assays with known reference control compounds were used as guideposts for development of an optimized purification method for CXCR4, a G-protein coupled chemokine receptor, for which we sought novel antagonists. The CXCR4 purification method that was developed was amenable to scale-up and enabled the screening of purified recombinant human CXCR4 against a large combinatorial library of small molecules by high throughput indirect AS-MS. The screen resulted in the discovery of new ligands that competed off binding of reference compounds to CXCR4 in AS-MS binding assays and that antagonized SDF1α-triggered responses and CXCR4-mediated HIV1 viral uptake in cell-based assays. This report provides a methodological paradigm whereby indirect AS-MS-based ligand binding assays may be used to guide optimal integral membrane protein purification methods that enable downstream affinity selection-based applications such as high throughput AS-MS screens.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / metabolism
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / isolation & purification*
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*


  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, CXCR4