Changes in Membrane Protein Structural Biology
Membrane Protein Laboratory, Diamond Light Source Ltd., Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot OX11 0DE, UK
Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH), Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot OX11 0FA, UK
School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, Leicestershire, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 October 2020
Revised: 11 November 2020
Accepted: 12 November 2020
Published: 16 November 2020
Membrane proteins are essential to all forms of life. Millions of membrane proteins are found in the lipid membrane layer that surrounds cells, and in the lipid membrane layers that surround smaller cellular compartments. Many medicines interact with membrane proteins; these include drugs that treat cancer, heart disease and pain. Research into membrane proteins is therefore important to the design and development of new medicines. Membrane proteins are difficult to work with, partly because they are so small. However, using techniques such as X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy, structural biologists, including those at the Membrane Protein Laboratory, are able to see the atomic detail of membrane proteins. There has been great progress in the field of membrane protein structural biology over the past fifteen years. Here, we review the recent advances in membrane protein structural biology, highlight key methods and give an overview of techniques. We also discuss the challenges that remain in this field, and suggest areas for future research.