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Nat Biotechnol. 2003 Feb;21(2):171-6. Epub 2003 Jan 13.

Lipopeptide detergents designed for the structural study of membrane proteins.

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Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2M9.


The structural study of membrane proteins requires detergents that can effectively mimic lipid bilayers, and the choice of detergent is often a compromise between detergents that promote protein stability and detergents that form small micelles. We describe lipopeptide detergents (LPDs), a new class of amphiphile consisting of a peptide scaffold that supports two alkyl chains, one anchored to each end of an alpha-helix. The goal was to design a molecule that could self-assemble into a cylindrical micelle with a rigid outer hydrophilic shell surrounding an inner lipidic core. Consistent with this design, LPDs self-assemble into small micelles, can disperse phospholipid membranes, and are gentle, nondenaturing detergents that preserve the structure of the membrane proteins in solution for extended periods of time. The LPD design allows for a membrane-like packing of the alkyl chains in the core of the molecular assemblies, possibly explaining their superior properties relative to traditional detergents in stabilizing membrane protein structures.

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