Mass spectrometry-based proteomics is rapidly becoming an essential tool for biologists. One of the most common applications is identifying the components of protein complexes isolated by co-immunoprecipitation. In this review, we discuss the co-immunoprecipitation, mass spectrometry and data analysis techniques that have been used successfully to define protein complexes in C. elegans research. In this discussion, two strategies emerged. One approach is to use stringent biochemical purification methods and attempt to identify a small number of complex components with a high degree of certainty based on MS data. A second approach is to use less stringent purification and identification parameters, and ultimately test a longer list of potential binding partners in biological validation assays. This should provide a useful guide for biologists planning proteomic experiments.
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