Protein footprinting in a complex milieu: Identifying the interaction surfaces of the chemotaxis adaptor protein chew

Eric S. Underbakke, Yimin Zhu, Laura L. Kiessling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Characterizing protein-protein interactions in a biologically relevant context is important for understanding the mechanisms of signal transduction. Most signal transduction systems are membrane associated and consist of large multiprotein complexes that undergo rapid reorganization-circumstances that present challenges to traditional structure determination methods. To study protein-protein interactions in a biologically relevant complex milieu, we employed a protein footprinting strategy based on isotope-coded affinity tag (ICAT) reagents. ICAT reagents are valuable tools for proteomics. Here, we show their utility in an alternative application-they are ideal for protein footprinting in complex backgrounds because the affinity tag moiety allows for enrichment of alkylated species prior to analysis. We employed a water-soluble ICAT reagent to monitor cysteine accessibility and thereby to identify residues involved in two different protein-protein interactions in the Escherichia coli chemotaxis signaling system. The chemotaxis system is an archetypal transmembrane signaling pathway in which a complex protein superstructure underlies sophisticated sensory performance. The formation of this superstructure depends on the adaptor protein CheW, which mediates a functionally important bridging interaction between transmembrane receptors and histidine kinase. ICAT footprinting was used to map the surfaces of CheW that interact with the large multidomain histidine kinase CheA, as well as with the transmembrane chemoreceptor Tsr in native E. coli membranes. By leveraging the affinity tag, we successfully identified CheW surfaces responsible for CheA-Tsr interaction. The proximity of the CheA and Tsr binding sites on CheW suggests the formation of a composite CheW-Tsr surface for the recruitment of the signaling kinase to the chemoreceptor complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-495
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 17 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Protein footprinting in a complex milieu: Identifying the interaction surfaces of the chemotaxis adaptor protein chew'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this