Generation of Antibodies Targeting Cleavable Cross-Linkers

Anal Chem. 2021 Mar 2;93(8):3762-3769. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c04043. Epub 2021 Feb 16.


Chemical cross-linking has become a powerful tool for the analysis of protein structures and interactions by mass spectrometry. A particular strength of this approach is the ability to investigate native states in vivo, investigating intact organelles, cells, or tissues. For such applications, the cleavable cross-linkers disuccinimidyl sulfoxide (DSSO) and disuccinimidyl dibutyric urea (DSBU) are gaining increasing popularity, as they allow for the analysis of complex mixtures. It is inherently difficult to follow the reaction of cross-linkers with proteins in intact biological structures, stalling the optimization of in vivo cross-linking experiments. We generated polyclonal antibodies targeting DSSO- and DSBU-modified proteins, by injection of cross-linked bovine serum albumin (BSA) in rabbits. We show that the cross-linker-modified BSA successfully triggered an immune response, and that DSSO- and DSBU-specific antibodies were generated by the animals. Using affinity-purified antibodies specific for the individual cross-linkers, we demonstrate their application to the detection of cross-linker-modified proteins in Western blot and immunocytochemistry experiments of intact and permeabilized cells. Furthermore, we show their ability to immunoprecipitate DSSO/DSBU-modified proteins and provide evidence for their affinity toward water-quenched dead-links. These antibodies provide a valuable tool for the investigation of proteins modified with the cross-linkers DSSO and DSBU.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Rabbits
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine*
  • Sulfoxides*


  • Antibodies
  • Cross-Linking Reagents
  • Sulfoxides
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine