Molecular and Cellular Proteomics
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The Src Homology-3 (SH3) domains are ubiquitous protein modules that mediate important intracellular protein interactions via binding to short proline-rich consensus motifs in their target proteins. The affinity and specificity of such core SH3-ligand contacts are typically modest, but additional binding interfaces can give rise to stronger and more specific SH3-mediated interactions. To understand how commonly such robust SH3 interactions occur in the human protein interactome, and to identify these in an unbiased manner we have expressed 324 predicted human SH3 ligands as full-length proteins in mammalian cells, and screened for their preferred SH3 partners using a phage display-based approach. This discovery platform contains an essentially complete repertoire of the ∼300 human SH3 domains, and involves an inherent binding threshold that ensures selective identification of only SH3 interactions with relatively high affinity. Such strong and selective SH3 partners could be identified for only 19 of these 324 predicted ligand proteins, suggesting that the majority of human SH3 interactions are relatively weak, and thereby have capacity for only modest inherent selectivity. The panel of exceptionally robust SH3 interactions identified here provides a rich source of leads and hypotheses for further studies. However, a truly comprehensive characterization of the human SH3 interactome will require novel high-throughput methods based on function instead of absolute binding affinity.