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J Gen Physiol. 2011 Feb;137(2):217-23. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201010558.

Non-vesicular transfer of membrane proteins from nanoparticles to lipid bilayers.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Discoidal lipoproteins are a novel class of nanoparticles for studying membrane proteins (MPs) in a soluble, native lipid environment, using assays that have not been traditionally applied to transmembrane proteins. Here, we report the successful delivery of an ion channel from these particles, called nanoscale apolipoprotein-bound bilayers (NABBs), to a distinct, continuous lipid bilayer that will allow both ensemble assays, made possible by the soluble NABB platform, and single-molecule assays, to be performed from the same biochemical preparation. We optimized the incorporation and verified the homogeneity of NABBs containing a prototypical potassium channel, KcsA. We also evaluated the transfer of KcsA from the NABBs to lipid bilayers using single-channel electrophysiology and found that the functional properties of the channel remained intact. NABBs containing KcsA were stable, homogeneous, and able to spontaneously deliver the channel to black lipid membranes without measurably affecting the electrical properties of the bilayer. Our results are the first to demonstrate the transfer of a MP from NABBs to a different lipid bilayer without involving vesicle fusion.

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