Stitching the synapse: Cross-linking mass spectrometry into resolving synaptic protein interactions

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Science Advances  19 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 8, eaax5783
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax5783


Synaptic transmission is the predominant form of communication in the brain. It requires functionally specialized molecular machineries constituted by thousands of interacting synaptic proteins. Here, we made use of recent advances in cross-linking mass spectrometry (XL-MS) in combination with biochemical and computational approaches to reveal the architecture and assembly of synaptic protein complexes from mouse brain hippocampus and cerebellum. We obtained 11,999 unique lysine-lysine cross-links, comprising connections within and between 2362 proteins. This extensive collection was the basis to identify novel protein partners, to model protein conformational dynamics, and to delineate within and between protein interactions of main synaptic constituents, such as Camk2, the AMPA-type glutamate receptor, and associated proteins. Using XL-MS, we generated a protein interaction resource that we made easily accessible via a web-based platform ( to provide new entries into exploration of all protein interactions identified.

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