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Biomacromolecules. 2017 Nov 13;18(11):3706-3713. doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b01136. Epub 2017 Oct 9.

Controlling Styrene Maleic Acid Lipid Particles through RAFT.

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Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering UC Berkeley , Berkeley, California 94720, United States.
Science and Technology, Aarhus University , 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Biochemistry and Biophysics, UCSF , San Francisco, California 94143, United States.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , Berkeley, California 94720, United States.
California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), UC Berkeley , Berkeley, California 94720, United States.


The ability of styrene maleic acid copolymers to dissolve lipid membranes into nanosized lipid particles is a facile method of obtaining membrane proteins in solubilized lipid discs while conserving part of their native lipid environment. While the currently used copolymers can readily extract membrane proteins in native nanodiscs, their highly disperse composition is likely to influence the dispersity of the discs as well as the extraction efficiency. In this study, reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer was used to control the polymer architecture and dispersity of molecular weights with a high-precision. Based on Monte Carlo simulations of the polymerizations, the monomer composition was predicted and allowed a structure-function analysis of the polymer architecture, in relation to their ability to assemble into lipid nanoparticles. We show that a higher degree of control of the polymer architecture generates more homogeneous samples. We hypothesize that low dispersity copolymers, with control of polymer architecture are an ideal framework for the rational design of polymers for customized isolation and characterization of integral membrane proteins in native lipid bilayer systems.

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