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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2001;36(6):501-603.

In vitro studies of membrane protein folding.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medical Sciences, University Walk, Bristol, UK.


The study of membrane protein folding is a new and challenging research field. Consequently, there are few direct studies on the in vitro folding of membrane proteins. This review covers work aimed at understanding folding mechanisms and the intermolecular forces that drive the folding of integral membrane proteins. We discuss the kinetic and thermodynamic studies that have been undertaken. Our review also draws on closely related research, mainly from purification studies of functional membrane proteins, and gives an overview of some of the successful methods. A brief survey is also given of the large body of mutagenesis and fragment work on membrane proteins, as this too has relevance to the folding problem. It is noticeable that the choice of solubilizing detergents and lipids can determine the success of the method, and indeed it appears that particular lipid properties can be used to control the rate and efficiency of folding. This has important ramifications for much in vitro folding work in that it aids our understanding of how to obtain and handle folded, functional protein. With this in mind, we also cover some relevant properties of model, lipid-bilayer systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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