We describe an integrated approach of using hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS), chemical cross-linking mass spectrometry (XL-MS), and molecular docking to characterize the binding interface and to predict the three-dimensional quaternary structure of a protein-protein complex in solution. Interleukin 7 (IL-7) and its α-receptor, IL-7Rα, serving as essential mediators in the immune system, are the model system. HDX kinetics reports widespread protection on IL-7Rα but shows no differential evidence of binding-induced protection or remote conformational change. Cross-linking with reagents that differ in spacer lengths and targeting residues increases the spatial resolution. Using five cross-links as distance restraints for protein-protein docking, we generated a high-confidence model of the IL-7/IL-7Rα complex. Both the predicted binding interface and regions with direct contacts agree well with those in the solid-state structure, as confirmed by previous X-ray crystallography. An additional binding region was revealed to be the C-terminus of helix B of IL-7, highlighting the value of solution-based characterization. To generalize the integrated approach, protein-protein docking was executed with a different number of cross-links. Combining cluster analysis and HDX kinetics adjudication, we found that two intermolecular cross-link-derived restraints are sufficient to generate a high-confidence model with root-mean-square distance (rmsd) value of all alpha carbons below 2.0 Å relative to the crystal structure. The remarkable results of binding-interface determination and quaternary structure prediction highlight the effectiveness and capability of the integrated approach, which will allow more efficient and comprehensive analysis of interprotein interactions with broad applications in the multiple stages of design, implementation, and evaluation for protein therapeutics.
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - Dec 17 2019|