Dominik PK, Borowska MT, Dalmas O, Kim SS, Perozo E, Keenan RJ, Kossiakoff AA
Structure 2016 Feb;24(2):300-9
A major challenge in membrane biophysics is to define the mechanistic linkages between a protein’s conformational transitions and its function. We describe a novel approach to stabilize transient functional states of membrane proteins in native-like lipid environments allowing for their structural and biochemical characterization. This is accomplished by combining the power of antibody Fab-based phage display selection with the benefits of embedding membrane protein targets in lipid-filled nanodiscs. In addition to providing a stabilizing lipid environment, nanodiscs afford significant technical advantages over detergent-based formats. This enables the production of a rich pool of high-performance Fab binders that can be used as crystallization chaperones, as fiducial markers for single-particle cryoelectron microscopy, and as probes of different conformational states. Moreover, nanodisc-generated Fabs can be used to identify detergents that best mimic native membrane environments for use in biophysical studies.