Swietlik, J. J., Sinha, A., Meissner, F. (2020). Curr Opin Cell Biol 63, 20-30.
Physiological functions depend on a coordinated interplay of numerous different cell types. Proteins serve as major signaling molecules between cells; however, their comprehensive investigation in physiologically relevant settings has remained challenging. Mass spectrometry (MS)–based shotgun proteomics is emerging as a powerful technology for the systematic analysis of protein-mediated intercellular signaling and regulated post-translational modifications. Here, we discuss recent advancements in cell biological, chemical, and biochemical MS-based approaches for the profiling of cellular messengers released by sending cells, receptors expressed on the cell surface, and their interactions. We highlight methods tailored toward the mapping of dynamic signal transduction mechanisms at cellular interfaces and approaches to dissect communication cell specifically in heterocellular systems. Thereby, MS-based proteomics contributes a unique systems biology perspective for the identification of intercellular signaling pathways deregulated in disease.