The Lab

The Bruce Lab at the University of Washington is focused on development and application of advanced mass spectrometry technology for biological, biophysical and biochemical studies. We specialize in Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry for proteomics, biological and biomedical applications.

Featured Publications

In Vivo Conformational Dynamics of Hsp90 and Its Interactors

Hsp90 functions to maintain cellular homeostasis. Chavez et al. identified in vivo changes to Hsp90 conformations and interactions upon cellular treatment with Hsp90 inhibitors using quantitative crosslinking with mass spectrometry. Conformational changes were found to be drug and isoform specific.

XLinkDB 2.0: integrated, large-scale structural analysis of protein crosslinking data

Large-scale chemical cross-linking with mass spectrometry (XL-MS) analyses are quickly becoming a powerful means for high-throughput determination of protein structural information and protein–protein interactions. Recent studies have garnered thousands of cross-linked interactions, yet the field lacks an effective tool to compile experimental data or access the network and structural knowledge for these large scale analyses. We present XLinkDB 2.0 which integrates tools for network analysis, Protein Databank queries, modeling of predicted protein structures and modeling of docked protein structures. The novel, integrated approach of XLinkDB 2.0 enables the holistic analysis of XL-MS protein interaction data without limitation to the cross-linker or analytical system used for the analysis.

Parallel Spectral Acquisition with an Ion Cyclotron Resonance Cell Array

Mass measurement accuracy is a critical analytical figure-of-merit in most areas of mass spectrometry application. However, the time required for acquisition of high-resolution, high mass accuracy data limits many applications and is an aspect under continual pressure for development. Current efforts target implementation of higher electrostatic and magnetic fields because ion oscillatory frequencies increase linearly with field strength. As such, the time required for spectral acquisition of a given resolving power and mass accuracy decreases linearly with increasing fields. Mass spectrometer developments to include multiple high-resolution detectors that can be operated in parallel could further decrease the acquisition time by a factor of n, the number of detectors. Efforts described here resulted in development of an instrument with a set of Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance (ICR) cells as detectors that constitute the first MS array capable of parallel high-resolution spectral acquisition. ICR cell array systems consisting of three or five cells were constructed with printed circuit boards and installed within a single superconducting magnet and vacuum system. Independent ion populations were injected and trapped within each cell in the array. Upon filling the array, all ions in all cells were simultaneously excited and ICR signals from each cell were independently amplified and recorded in parallel. Presented here are the initial results of successful parallel spectral acquisition, parallel mass spectrometry (MS) and MS/MS measurements, and parallel high-resolution acquisition with the MS array system.

Host-Microbe Protein Interactions during Bacterial Infection

Interspecies protein-protein interactions are essential mediators of infection. While bacterial proteins required for host cell invasion and infection can be identified through bacterial mutant library screens, information about host target proteins and interspecies complex structures has been more difficult to acquire. Using an unbiased chemical crosslinking/mass spectrometry approach, we identified interspecies protein-protein interactions in human lung epithelial cells infected with Acinetobacter baumannii. These efforts resulted in identification of 3,076 crosslinked peptide pairs and 46 interspecies protein-protein interactions. Most notably, the key A. baumannii virulence factor, OmpA, was identified as crosslinked to host proteins involved in desmosomes, specialized structures that mediate host cell-to-cell adhesion. Co-immunoprecipitation and transposon mutant experiments were used to verify these interactions and demonstrate relevance for host cell invasion and acute murine lung infection. These results shed new light on A. baumannii-host protein interactions and their structural features, and the presented approach is generally applicable to other systems.