To understand the workings of a living cell, we need to know the architectures of its macromolecular assemblies. Here we show how proteomic data can be used to determine such structures. The process involves the collection of sufficient and diverse high-quality data, translation of these data into spatial restraints, and an optimization that uses the restraints to generate an ensemble of structures consistent with the data. Analysis of the ensemble produces a detailed architectural map of the assembly. We developed our approach on a challenging model system, the nuclear pore complex (NPC). The NPC acts as a dynamic barrier, controlling access to and from the nucleus, and in yeast is a 50 MDa assembly of 456 proteins. The resulting structure, presented in an accompanying paper, reveals the configuration of the proteins in the NPC, providing insights into its evolution and architectural principles. The present approach should be applicable to many other macromolecular assemblies.
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We thank H. Shio for performing the electron microscopic studies; J. Fanghänel, M. Niepel and C. Strambio-de-Castillia for help in developing the affinity purification techniques; M. Magnasco for discussions and advice; A. Kruchinsky for assistance with mass spectrometry; M. Topf, D. Korkin, F. Davis, M.-Y. Shen, F. Foerster, N. Eswar, M. Kim, D. Russel, B. Peterson and B. Webb for many discussions about structure characterization by satisfaction of spatial restraints; C. Johnson, S. G. Parker and C. Silva, T. Ferrin and T. Goddard for preparation of some figures; and S. Pulapura and X. J. Zhou for their help with the design of the conditional diameter restraint. We are grateful to J. Aitchison for discussion and insightful suggestions. We also thank all other members of the Chait, Rout and Sali laboratories for their assistance. We acknowledge support from an Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award (M.P.R.), a Sinsheimer Scholar Award (M.P.R.), a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation (M.P.R.), a grant from the American Cancer Society (M.P.R.), the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation (A.S.), the Human Frontier Science Program (A.S., L.M.V.), NSF (A.S.), and grants from the National Institutes of Health (B.T.C., M.P.R., A.S.), as well as computer hardware gifts from R. Conway, M. Homer, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Netapp (A.S.).
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Alber, F., Dokudovskaya, S., Veenhoff, L. et al. Determining the architectures of macromolecular assemblies. Nature 450, 683–694 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06404
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