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Challenges in the Development of Functional Assays of Membrane Proteins

Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen PSI CH-5232, Switzerland
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The authors contribute equally to this work.
Materials 2012, 5(11), 2205-2242; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma5112205
Received: 29 September 2012 / Revised: 25 October 2012 / Accepted: 1 November 2012 / Published: 7 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Supported Lipid Membranes)
Lipid bilayers are natural barriers of biological cells and cellular compartments. Membrane proteins integrated in biological membranes enable vital cell functions such as signal transduction and the transport of ions or small molecules. In order to determine the activity of a protein of interest at defined conditions, the membrane protein has to be integrated into artificial lipid bilayers immobilized on a surface. For the fabrication of such biosensors expertise is required in material science, surface and analytical chemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology. Specifically, techniques are needed for structuring surfaces in the micro- and nanometer scale, chemical modification and analysis, lipid bilayer formation, protein expression, purification and solubilization, and most importantly, protein integration into engineered lipid bilayers. Electrochemical and optical methods are suitable to detect membrane activity-related signals. The importance of structural knowledge to understand membrane protein function is obvious. Presently only a few structures of membrane proteins are solved at atomic resolution. Functional assays together with known structures of individual membrane proteins will contribute to a better understanding of vital biological processes occurring at biological membranes. Such assays will be utilized in the discovery of drugs, since membrane proteins are major drug targets. View Full-Text
Keywords: membrane protein; function; surface; lipid bilayers; silicon; polymer; microfluidics; review membrane protein; function; surface; lipid bilayers; silicon; polymer; microfluidics; review
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Tiefenauer, L.; Demarche, S. Challenges in the Development of Functional Assays of Membrane Proteins. Materials 2012, 5, 2205-2242.

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