Thermodynamic analysis of protein-ligand binding interactions in complex biological mixtures using the stability of proteins from rates of oxidation

Nat Protoc. 2013 Jan;8(1):148-61. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2012.146. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


The detection and quantification of protein-ligand binding interactions is crucial in a number of different areas of biochemical research from fundamental studies of biological processes to drug discovery efforts. Described here is a protocol that can be used to identify the protein targets of biologically relevant ligands (e.g., drugs such as tamoxifen or cyclosporin A) in complex protein mixtures such as cell lysates. The protocol utilizes quantitative, bottom-up, shotgun proteomics technologies (isobaric mass tags for relative and absolute quantification, or iTRAQ) with a covalent labeling technique, termed stability of proteins from rates of oxidation (SPROX). In SPROX, the thermodynamic properties of proteins and protein-ligand complexes are assessed using the hydrogen peroxide-mediated oxidation of methionine residues as a function of the chemical denaturant (e.g., guanidine hydrochloride or urea) concentration. The proteome-wide SPROX experiments described here enable the ligand-binding properties of hundreds of proteins to be simultaneously assayed in the context of complex biological samples. The proteomic capabilities of the protocol render it amenable to the detection of both the on- and off-target effects of ligand binding. The protocol can be completed in 5 d.

Publication types

  • Research Support, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Ligands
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Stability
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Ligands
  • Proteins