Microtech 2011

Surface-based analysis of membrane proteins in their native environment - a paradigm in protein analysis

A. Gunnarsson, L. Simonsson, P. Jonsson, F. Hook
Chalmers University of Technology / SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, SE

Keywords: membrane protein, supported lipid bilayer, separation, receptor-ligand interactions, microfluidics


Two-thirds of all pharmaceutical drugs today target membrane receptors found on the cell surface. Despite the importance of membrane proteins in various areas such as drug development and virus infections, there is a striking lack of methods to study this class of proteins due to their non-water soluble nature. To circumvent this difficulty, the use of detergents is currently industrial practice in order to solubilize the proteins. However, detergents often interfere with downstream analysis as well as affecting their stability and function. We have developed a novel method for incorporation of membrane proteins in a supported lipid bilayer, thus maintaining the protein in their native state for purification and analysis. The method relies on microfluidics and can be fully integrated into a lab-on-a-chip format, thus facilitating investigations of drug-target interactions, separation of membrane constituents, and ultimately leading to new drug discovery. The greatest value of the innovation is that it is a platform technology, which enables separation and enrichment of membrane proteins in their natural state.

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