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Biophys J. 2015 Jan 20;108(2):279-90. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.3464.

Molecular model for the solubilization of membranes into nanodisks by styrene maleic Acid copolymers.

Author information

1
Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Padualaan, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: s.scheidelaar@uu.nl.
2
Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics, Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Padualaan, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
3
Electron Microscopy Utrecht, Debye Institute of Nanomaterials Science, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Padualaan, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

A recent discovery in membrane research is the ability of styrene-maleic acid (SMA) copolymers to solubilize membranes in the form of nanodisks allowing extraction and purification of membrane proteins from their native environment in a single detergent-free step. This has important implications for membrane research because it allows isolation as well as characterization of proteins and lipids in a near-native environment. Here, we aimed to unravel the molecular mode of action of SMA copolymers by performing systematic studies using model membranes of varying compositions and employing complementary biophysical approaches. We found that the SMA copolymer is a highly efficient membrane-solubilizing agent and that lipid bilayer properties such as fluidity, thickness, lateral pressure profile, and charge density all play distinct roles in the kinetics of solubilization. More specifically, relatively thin membranes, decreased lateral chain pressure, low charge density at the membrane surface, and increased salt concentration promote the speed and yield of vesicle solubilization. Experiments using a native membrane lipid extract showed that the SMA copolymer does not discriminate between different lipids and thus retains the native lipid composition in the solubilized particles. A model is proposed for the mode of action of SMA copolymers in which membrane solubilization is mainly driven by the hydrophobic effect and is further favored by physical properties of the polymer such as its relatively small cross-sectional area and rigid pendant groups. These results may be helpful for development of novel applications for this new type of solubilizing agent, and for optimization of the SMA technology for solubilization of the wide variety of cell membranes found in nature.

PMID:
25606677
PMCID:
PMC4302193
DOI:
10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.3464
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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