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Protocol for GST Pull Down

Principle of GST Pull Down

The GST Pull Down, short for Glutathione S-Transferase Pull Down, is a molecular biology technique used to investigate protein-protein interactions. At its core, this protocol relies on the affinity between the GST-tagged protein and glutathione. GST, a bacterial protein, is fused to the protein of interest. This fusion protein is then expressed in a host organism, typically Escherichia coli.

The principle behind GST Pull Down is straightforward yet powerful. It capitalizes on the specific binding of GST to glutathione. When cell lysates containing the GST-tagged protein are incubated with glutathione resin, the GST-tagged protein binds to the resin, effectively "pulling down" its interacting partners from the lysate. This interaction is highly specific, enabling the isolation of only those proteins that interact with the GST-tagged bait protein.

Protocol for GST Pull Down


GST-tagged protein: This is the protein of interest that you want to use as bait to capture interacting proteins. It should be expressed and purified with a GST-tag.

Cell lysate: Prepared from cells expressing the potential interacting proteins. It should be properly lysed to release cellular proteins.

Glutathione-Sepharose beads: These beads have a high affinity for GST and are used to capture the GST-tagged protein and its interacting partners.

Lysis buffer: A buffer that helps to maintain protein-protein interactions. It typically contains a protease inhibitor cocktail to prevent protein degradation.

Wash buffer: A buffer used to wash away non-specifically bound proteins from the beads.

Elution buffer: A buffer used to elute the captured proteins from the beads.

SDS-PAGE gel: For separating and analyzing the proteins after elution.

Western blotting equipment: To transfer and detect the proteins on a membrane.


1. Prepare Cell Lysate:

a. Grow and harvest the cells expressing your target interacting proteins.

b. Wash cells with PBS and then lyse them in a suitable lysis buffer containing protease inhibitors.

c. Centrifuge the lysate at high speed to remove cell debris.

2. Prepare Glutathione-Sepharose Beads:

a. Wash the beads with wash buffer.

b. Resuspend the beads in the wash buffer to make a slurry.

3. Incubate Beads with GST-Tagged Protein:

a. Mix the GST-tagged bait protein with the bead slurry.

b. Incubate the mixture at 4°C or room temperature for 1-2 hours with gentle agitation to allow binding of the GST-tagged protein to the beads.

4. Wash Beads:

a. Pellet the beads by centrifugation and discard the supernatant.

b. Wash the beads several times with wash buffer to remove non-specifically bound proteins.

5. Add Cell Lysate:

a. Add the cell lysate containing your potentially interacting proteins to the washed beads.

b. Incubate at 4°C or room temperature for 1-2 hours with gentle agitation to allow protein interactions to occur.

6. Wash Beads Again:

a. Pellet the beads and wash them several times with wash buffer to remove unbound proteins.

7. Elute Proteins:

a. Add elution buffer to the beads and incubate for 10-15 minutes to release the captured proteins.

b. Pellet the beads and collect the eluate containing your interacting proteins.

8. Analyze Proteins:

a. Analyze the eluted proteins by SDS-PAGE followed by Western blotting or other appropriate protein analysis techniques.

b. Use antibodies against your target proteins to confirm the interactions.

Applications of GST Pull Down

Identification of Protein-Protein Interactions: GST Pull-Down assays are primarily used to identify and confirm protein-protein interactions. By using a GST-tagged bait protein as an affinity matrix, researchers can isolate and identify specific interacting proteins from a complex mixture such as cell lysate.

Validation of Protein-Protein Interactions: Researchers can use GST Pull-Down assays to validate suspected protein-protein interactions that have been identified through other methods, such as yeast two-hybrid screens or co-immunoprecipitation experiments.

Mapping Protein-Protein Interaction Domains: GST Pull-Down assays can help define the regions or domains of a protein that are involved in specific interactions. By generating truncated or mutant versions of the bait protein and testing their ability to bind to target proteins, researchers can pinpoint the interacting regions.

Studying Signaling Pathways: GST Pull-Down assays are valuable for studying signaling pathways. They can be used to investigate how certain proteins interact in response to cellular signals or environmental cues, shedding light on regulatory mechanisms.

Drug Discovery and Target Identification: Researchers can use GST Pull-Down assays to identify potential drug targets by determining which proteins interact with a target protein of interest. This information can guide the development of drugs that disrupt specific protein-protein interactions.

Characterizing Protein Complexes: GST Pull-Down assays can be used to isolate and characterize multi-protein complexes. By using GST-tagged components of the complex as bait, researchers can identify other proteins that are part of the same complex.

Functional Studies: These assays can be used to explore the functional consequences of protein-protein interactions. For example, researchers can assess how a specific interaction affects the enzymatic activity or localization of proteins involved.

Disease Research: GST Pull-Down assays can be applied to disease-related research. They can help identify aberrant protein-protein interactions associated with diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and infectious diseases.

Screening for Binding Partners: Researchers can use GST Pull-Down assays in high-throughput screening to identify potential binding partners for a protein of interest. This can be valuable for discovering novel interactions in large-scale studies.

Protein Interaction Networks: By conducting GST Pull-Down assays with multiple bait proteins, researchers can build protein interaction networks that provide insights into the functional relationships between different proteins within a biological system.

Validation of Bioinformatics Predictions: When bioinformatics tools predict protein-protein interactions, GST Pull-Down assays can be used to experimentally validate these predictions, providing experimental evidence for computational analyses.

* For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.
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