Skip to main content

Viral crosslinking and solid-phase purification enables discovery of ribonucleoprotein complexes on incoming RNA virus genomes


Kim BByungil , Arcos SSarah , Rothamel KKatherine , Ascano MManuel . Nature protocols. 2020 12 2; 16(1). 516-531


The initial interactions between incoming, pre-replicated virion RNA and host protein factors are important in infection and immunity. Yet currently there are no methods to study these crucial events. We established VIR-CLASP (VIRal Cross-Linking And Solid-phase Purification) to identify the primary viral RNA-host protein interactions. First, host cells are infected with 4-thiouridine (4SU)-labeled RNA viruses and irradiated with 365 nm light to crosslink 4SU-labeled viral genomes and interacting proteins from host or virus. The crosslinked RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are purified by solid-phase reversible immobilization (SPRI) beads with protein-denaturing buffers, and then identified by proteomics. With VIR-CLASP, only the incoming virion RNAs are labeled with 4SU, so crosslinking events specifically occur between proteins and pre-replicated virion RNA. Since solid-phase purification under protein-denaturing conditions, rather than sequence-specific nucleic acid purification, is used to pull-down total RNA and crosslinked RBPs, this method facilitates investigation of potentially all RNA viruses, regardless of RNA sequence. Preparation of 4SU-labeled virus takes ∼7 days and VIR-CLASP takes 1 day.