Pull-down assays can identify members of protein complexes but suffer from co-isolation of contaminants. The problem is particularly acute when the specifically interacting partners are of low-abundance and/or bind transiently with low affinity. To differentiate true interacting partners from contaminants, we have combined SILAC labelling with a proteomic method called "Interactomes by Parallel Affinity Capture" (iPAC). In our method, a cell-line stably expressing a doubly tagged target endogenous protein and its tag-less control cell-line are differentially SILAC labelled. Lysates from the two cell-lines are mixed and the tagged protein is independently purified for MS analysis using multiple affinity resins in parallel. This allows the quantitative identification of tagged proteins and their binding partners. SILAC-iPAC provides a rigorous and sensitive approach that can discriminate between genuine binding partners and contaminants, even when the contaminants in the pull-down are in large excess. We employed our method to examine the interacting partners of phosphatidyl inositol 5-phosphate 4-kinase 2β subunit (PI5P4K2β) and the Fanconi anaemia core complex in the chicken pre-B cell-line DT40. We confirmed known components of these two complexes, and we have identified new potential binding partners. Combining the iPAC approach with SILAC labelling provides a sensitive and fully quantitative method for the discrimination of specific interactions under conditions where low signal to noise ratios are unavoidable. In addition, our work provides the first characterisation of the most abundant proteins within the DT40 proteome and the non-specific DT40 'beadomes' (non-specific proteins binding to beads) for common epitope tags. Given the importance and widespread use of the DT40 cell-line, these will be important resources for the cell biology and immunology communities. Biological significance. SILAC-iPAC provides an improved method for the analysis of low-affinity and/or low abundance protein-protein interactions. We use it to clarify two examples where the nature of the protein complexes are known, or are currently unclear. The method is simple and quantitative and will be applicable to many problems in cell and molecular biology. We also report the first chicken beadomes.
Rees, J. S., Lilley, K. S., & Jackson, A. P. (2015). SILAC-iPAC: A quantitative method for distinguishing genuine from non-specific components of protein complexes by parallel affinity capture. Journal of Proteomics, 115, 143–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jprot.2014.12.006