The study of protein–protein interactions (PPIs) is fundamental in understanding the unique role of proteins within cells and their contribution to complex biological systems. While the toolkit to study PPIs has grown immensely in mammalian and unicellular eukaryote systems over recent years, application of these techniques in plants remains under-utilized. Affinity purification coupled to mass spectrometry (AP-MS) and proximity labeling coupled to mass spectrometry (PL-MS) are two powerful techniques that have significantly enhanced our understanding of PPIs. Relying on the specific binding properties of a protein to an immobilized ligand, AP is a fast, sensitive and targeted approach used to detect interactions between bait (protein of interest) and prey (interacting partners) under near-physiological conditions. Similarly, PL, which utilizes the close proximity of proteins to identify potential interacting partners, has the ability to detect transient or hydrophobic interactions under native conditions. Combined, these techniques have the potential to reveal an unprecedented spatial and temporal protein interaction network that better understands biological processes relevant to many fields of interest. In this review, we summarize the advantages and disadvantages of two increasingly common PPI determination techniques: AP-MS and PL-MS and discuss their important application to plant systems.
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