Product(s) used in this publication: Peptide
Many protein-protein interactions are mediated by short linear peptide motifs binding to cognate proteins or protein domains. Such interactions often display affinities in the mid-micromolar range that are challenging to quantify accurately, especially when the motifs harbor single-point mutations. Here, we present a manual benchtop assay for determining affinities of weak interactions between a purified protein and a peptide array representing mutants of a target motif. The assay is based on the "holdup" principle, a chromatographic approach allowing sensitive detection of weak interactions at equilibrium and accurate estimation of their binding free energy. We tested two alternative setups using, as a readout, either capillary electrophoresis or fluorescence. Using this approach, we studied the amino acid sequence determinants of the interactions between HPV16 E6 viral oncoprotein and single-point mutants of its prototypical target LXXLL motif from the E3 ubiquitin ligase E6AP. Comparing SPOT peptide array and holdup approaches revealed a good agreement for most interactions except the weakest ones, which were only detected by holdup assay. In addition, the strongest interactions were validated by Surface-Plasmon Resonance. The manual holdup procedure proposed here can be readily adapted for accurate evaluation of a wide variety of protein-motif interactions displaying low to medium affinities.