Analysis of Human Nuclear Protein Complexes by Quantitative Mass Spectrometry Profiling

Proteomics. 2018 Jun;18(11):e1700427. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201700427. Epub 2018 May 4.


Analysis of protein complexes provides insights into how the ensemble of expressed proteome is organized into functional units. While there have been advances in techniques for proteome-wide profiling of cytoplasmic protein complexes, information about human nuclear protein complexes are very limited. To close this gap, we combined native size exclusion chromatography (SEC) with label-free quantitative MS profiling to characterize hundreds of nuclear protein complexes isolated from human glioblastoma multiforme T98G cells. We identified 1794 proteins that overlapped between two biological replicates of which 1244 proteins were characterized as existing within stably associated putative complexes. co-IP experiments confirmed the interaction of PARP1 with Ku70/Ku80 proteins and HDAC1 (histone deacetylase complex 1) and CHD4. HDAC1/2 also co-migrated with various SIN3A and nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase components in SEC fractionation including SIN3A, SAP30, RBBP4, RBBP7, and NCOR1. Co-elution of HDAC1/2/3 with both the KDM1A and RCOR1 further confirmed that these proteins are integral components of human deacetylase complexes. Our approach also demonstrated the ability to identify potential moonlighting complexes and novel complexes containing uncharacterized proteins. Overall, the results demonstrated the utility of SEC fractionation and LC-MS analysis for system-wide profiling of proteins to predict the existence of distinct forms of nuclear protein complexes.

Keywords: MS; glioblastoma multiforme; label-free quantitation; protein complex; size exclusion chromatography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / analysis*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proteome