The laboratory of Dr. Oliver Ernst has used X-ray crystallography to determine the structure of a membrane protein that never left a lipid-bilayer environment (i.e., without the use of conventional detergents). The work, published in Structure and highlighted on the Journal’s cover, was led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jana Broecker. Polymer-bounded lipid nanodiscs were used to extract and purify membrane proteins with their surrounding lipids and allowed transfer into lipidic cubic phases where well-diffracting crystals can grow. A high-quality, high-resolution structure (2 Å) was obtained. The new method expands the toolbox for membrane-protein crystallography and promises more structures of proteins that so far have not been amenable to treatment with conventional detergents. The research has received funding from the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program and the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Ernst Lab discover new way to crystallize membrane proteins