Protein Complex Affinity Capture from Cryomilled Mammalian Cells

J Vis Exp. 2016 Dec 9:(118):54518. doi: 10.3791/54518.


Affinity capture is an effective technique for isolating endogenous protein complexes for further study. When used in conjunction with an antibody, this technique is also frequently referred to as immunoprecipitation. Affinity capture can be applied in a bench-scale and in a high-throughput context. When coupled with protein mass spectrometry, affinity capture has proven to be a workhorse of interactome analysis. Although there are potentially many ways to execute the numerous steps involved, the following protocols implement our favored methods. Two features are distinctive: the use of cryomilled cell powder to produce cell extracts, and antibody-coupled paramagnetic beads as the affinity medium. In many cases, we have obtained superior results to those obtained with more conventional affinity capture practices. Cryomilling avoids numerous problems associated with other forms of cell breakage. It provides efficient breakage of the material, while avoiding denaturation issues associated with heating or foaming. It retains the native protein concentration up to the point of extraction, mitigating macromolecular dissociation. It reduces the time extracted proteins spend in solution, limiting deleterious enzymatic activities, and it may reduce the non-specific adsorption of proteins by the affinity medium. Micron-scale magnetic affinity media have become more commonplace over the last several years, increasingly replacing the traditional agarose- and Sepharose-based media. Primary benefits of magnetic media include typically lower non-specific protein adsorption; no size exclusion limit because protein complex binding occurs on the bead surface rather than within pores; and ease of manipulation and handling using magnets.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, Affinity*
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteins / isolation & purification*


  • Antibodies
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Proteins