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Proteins often exist as ensembles of interconverting states in solution which are often difficult to quantify. In the present manuscript we show that the combination of MS under nondenaturing conditions and AUC-SV (analytical ultracentrifugation sedimentation velocity) unambiguously clarifies a distribution of states and hydrodynamic shapes of assembled oligomers for the NAP-1 (nucleosome assembly protein 1). MS established the number of associated units, which was utilized as input for the numerical analysis of AUC-SV profiles. The AUC-SV analysis revealed that less than 1% of NAP-1 monomer exists at the micromolar concentration range and that the basic assembly unit consists of dimers of yeast or human NAP-1. These dimers interact non-covalently to form even-numbered higher-assembly states, such as tetramers, hexamers, octamers and decamers. MS and AUC-SV consistently showed that the formation of the higher oligomers was suppressed with increasing ionic strength, implicating electrostatic interactions in the formation of higher oligomers. The hydrodynamic shapes of the NAP-1 tetramer estimated from AUC-SV agreed with the previously proposed assembly models built using the known three-dimensional structure of yeast NAP-1. Those of the hexamer and octamer could be represented by new models shown in the present study. Additionally, MS was used to measure the stoichiometry of the interaction between the human NAP-1 dimer and the histone H2A-H2B dimer or H3-H4 tetramer. The present study illustrates a rigorous procedure for the analysis of protein assembly and protein-protein interactions in solution.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





101 - 112


Dimerization, Histones, Humans, Mass Spectrometry, Nucleosome Assembly Protein 1, Solutions, Ultracentrifugation