The interactions of biomolecules underpin all cellular processes, and the understanding of their dynamic interplay can lead to significant advances in the treatment of disease through the identification of novel therapeutic strategies. Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in particular play a vital role within this arena, providing the basis for the majority of cellular signalling pathways. Despite their great importance, the elucidation of weak or transient PPIs that cannot be identified by immunoprecipitation remains a significant challenge, particularly in a disease relevant cellular environment. Recent approaches towards this goal have utilized the in situ generation of high energy intermediates that cross-link with neighboring proteins, providing a snapshot of the biomolecular makeup of the local area or microenvironment, termed the interactome. In this tutorial review, we discuss these reactive intermediates, how they are generated, and the impact they have had on the discovery of new biology. Broadly, we believe this strategy has the potential to significantly accelerate our understanding of PPIs and how they affect cellular physiology.
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