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Nat Methods. 2007 Apr;4(4):319-21. Epub 2007 Mar 18.

Subunit counting in membrane-bound proteins.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley Material Science & Physical Bioscience Divisions, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


The subunit number and stoichiometry of membrane-bound proteins are difficult to determine without disrupting their membrane environment. Here we describe a single-molecule technique for counting subunits of proteins in live cell membranes by observing bleaching steps of GFP fused to a protein of interest. After testing the method with proteins of known stoichiometry expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, we resolved the composition of NMDA receptors composed of NR1 and NR3 subunits.

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