Understanding how membrane proteins interact with detergents is of fundamental and practical significance in structural and chemical biology as well as in nanobiotechnology. Current methods for inspecting protein-detergent complex (PDC) interfaces require high concentrations of protein and are of low throughput. Here, we describe a scalable, spectroscopic approach that uses nanomolar protein concentrations in native solutions. This approach, which is based on steady-state fluorescence polarization (FP) spectroscopy, kinetically resolves the dissociation of detergents from membrane proteins and protein unfolding. For satisfactorily solubilizing detergents, at concentrations much greater than the critical micelle concentration (CMC), the fluorescence anisotropy was independent of detergent concentration. In contrast, at detergent concentrations comparable with or below the CMC, the anisotropy readout underwent a time-dependent decrease, showing a specific and sensitive protein unfolding signature. Functionally reconstituted membrane proteins into a bilayer membrane confirmed predictions made by these FP-based determinations with respect to varying refolding conditions. From a practical point of view, this 96-well analytical approach will facilitate a massively parallel assessment of the PDC interfacial interactions under a fairly broad range of micellar and environmental conditions. We expect that these studies will potentially accelerate research in membrane proteins pertaining to their extraction, solubilization, stabilization, and crystallization, as well as reconstitution into bilayer membranes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry