Interactions between biomolecules underlie all cellular processes and ultimately control cell fate. Perturbation of native interactions through mutation, changes in expression levels or external stimuli leads to altered cellular physiology and can result in either disease or therapeutic effects1,2. Mapping these interactions and determining how they respond to stimulus is the genesis of many drug development efforts, leading to new therapeutic targets and improvements in human health1. However, in the complex environment of the nucleus, it is challenging to determine protein–protein interactions owing to low abundance, transient or multivalent binding and a lack of technologies that are able to interrogate these interactions without disrupting the protein-binding surface under study3. Here, we describe a method for the traceless incorporation of iridium-photosensitizers into the nuclear micro-environment using engineered split inteins. These Ir-catalysts can activate diazirine warheads through Dexter energy transfer to form reactive carbenes within an approximately 10 nm radius, cross-linking with proteins in the immediate micro-environment (a process termed µMap) for analysis using quantitative chemoproteomics4. We show that this nanoscale proximity-labelling method can reveal the critical changes in interactomes in the presence of cancer-associated mutations, as well as treatment with small-molecule inhibitors. µMap improves our fundamental understanding of nuclear protein–protein interactions and, in doing so, is expected to have a significant effect on the field of epigenetic drug discovery in both academia and industry.
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