Finding the needle in the haystack
In a study recently published in Nature Methods, researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Oxford University have developed a method to identify molecules that are attached to proteins in the membrane.
"Many processes in the cell are controlled by small molecules, for example, by turning transporter proteins in the membrane around the cell on or off. If we can find molecules that bind to these proteins, we can control what is transported in or out of the cell", explains Michael Landreh, researcher at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at Karolinska Institutet, and one of the co-authors of the article.
By isolating, weighing, and breaking complete proteins using mass spectrometry, the researchers could identify small molecules that were hidden in large protein complexes, including both drugs and lipids from the cell membrane.
The method could potentially help develop new antibiotics or find molecules that control the transport of drugs into cancer cells.
Combining native and 'omics' mass spectrometry to identify endogenous ligands bound to membrane proteins.
Gault J, Liko I, Landreh M, Shutin D, Bolla JR, Jefferies D, et al
Nat. Methods 2020 May;17(5):505-508