Control of TurboID-dependent biotinylation intensity in proximity ligation screens.

Garloff V, Krüger T, Brakhage A, Rubio I (2023) Control of TurboID-dependent biotinylation intensity in proximity ligation screens. J Proteomics 279, 104886.


Proximity biotinylation screens are a widely used strategy for the unbiased identification of interacting or vicinal proteins. The latest generation biotin ligase TurboID has broadened the range of potential applications, as this ligase promotes an intense and faster biotinylation, even in subcellular compartments like the endoplasmic reticulum. On the other hand, the uncontrollable high basal biotinylation rates deny the system's inducibility and are often associated with cellular toxicity precluding its use in proteomics. We report here an improved method for TurboID-dependent biotinylation reactions based on the tight control of free biotin levels. Blockage of free biotin with a commercial biotin scavenger reversed the high basal biotinylation and toxicity of TurboID, as shown by pulse-chase experiments. Accordingly, the biotin-blockage protocol restored the biological activity of a bait protein fused to TurboID in the endoplasmic reticulum and rendered the biotinylation reaction inducible by exogenous biotin. Importantly, the biotin-blockage protocol was more effective than biotin removal with immobilized avidin and did not affect the cellular viability of human monocytes over several days. The method presented should be useful to researchers interested in exploiting the full potential of biotinylation screens with TurboID and other high-activity ligases for challenging proteomics questions.

Significance: Proximity biotinylation screens using the last generation biotin ligase TurboID represent a powerful approach for the characterisation of transient protein-protein interaction and signaling networks. However, a constant and high basal biotinylation rate and the associated cytotoxicity often preclude the use of this method in proteomic studies. We report a protocol based on modulation of free biotin levels that prevents the deleterious effects of TurboID while allowing inducible biotinylation, even in subcellular compartments such as the endoplasmic reticulum. This optimised protocol greatly expands the applications of TurboID in proteomic screens.


Axel A. Brakhage
Thomas Krüger


doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2023.104886

PMID: 36966971