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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 1995 Aug;6(4):394-402.

Engineering membrane proteins.

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Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, Paris, France.


Much of the research on integral membrane proteins mirrors that on soluble proteins; however, membrane protein engineering also has its own ends and means, many of which take advantage of the peculiar situation of membrane proteins, whose chains are distributed between one lipidic and two aqueous phases. Extramembrane loops have been shortened, cut, or elongated with segments forming proteolytic cleavage sites, foreign epitopes, extra transmembrane segments, or even whole proteins, with the aim of facilitating purification, biochemical/biophysical studies, or crystallogenesis. Transmembrane alpha-helices have been deleted, duplicated, exchanged, transported into a foreign context or replaced with synthetic peptides, in order to both understand their integration into, and assembly in, the membrane and unravel their functional role. Insertion of cysteine residues has been the basis for a great diversity of experiments, ranging from the exploration of secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures of the transmembrane region to the creation of anchoring points for reporter molecules. Chemical engineering--the synthesis of protein fragments or even of whole proteins--offers particularly exciting new prospects, given the small size of folding domains in alpha-helical membrane proteins. Membrane protein engineering is rapidly developing its own agenda of questions and tool chest of techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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