MS/NMR: A structure-based approach for discovering protein ligands and for drug design by coupling size exclusion chromatography, mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

F. J. Moy, K. Haraki, D. Mobilio, G. Walker, R. Powers, K. Tabei, H. Tong, M. M. Siegel

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74 Scopus citations


A protocol is described for rapidly screening small organic molecules for their ability to bind a target protein while obtaining structure-related information as part of a structure-based drug discovery and design program. The methodology takes advantage of and combines the inherent strengths of size exclusion gel chromatography, mass spectrometry, and NMR to identify bound complexes in a relatively universal high-throughput screening approach. Size exclusion gel chromatography in the spin column format provides the high-speed separation of a protein-ligand complex from free ligands. The spin column eluent is then analyzed under denaturing conditions by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (MS) for the presence of small molecular weight compounds formerly bound to the protein. Hits identified by MS are then individually assayed by chemical shift perturbations in a 2D 1H-15N HSQC NMR spectrum to verify specific interactions of the compound with the protein and identification of the binding site on the protein. The utility of the MS/NMR assay is demonstrated with the use of the catalytic fragment of human fibroblast collagenase (MMP-1) as a target protein and the screening of a library consisting of ∼32 000 compounds for the identification of molecules that exhibit specific binding to the RGS4 protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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