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J Mol Med (Berl). 2003 Aug;81(8):511-20. Epub 2003 Jul 23.

Membrane transplantation to correct integral membrane protein defects.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


In this report we show that the tendency of certain viruses to carry host membrane proteins in their envelopes can be harnessed for transplantation of small patches of plasma membrane, including fully functional, polytopic ion channel proteins and their regulatory binding partners. As a stringent model we tested the topologically complex epithelial ion channel CFTR. Initially an attenuated vaccinia virus was found capable of transferring CFTR in a properly folded, functional and regulatable form to CFTR negative cells. Next we generated viruslike particles (VLPs) composed of retroviral structural proteins that assemble and bud at the host cell plasma membrane. These particles were also shown to mediate functional ion channel transfer. By testing the capacity of complex membrane proteins to incorporate into viral envelopes these experiments provide new insight into the permissiveness of viral envelopment, including the ability of incorporated proteins to retain function and repair defects at the cell surface, and serve as a platform for studies of ion channel and membrane protein biochemistry.

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