Amphipathic polymers enable the study of functional membrane proteins in the gas phase

Aneika C. Leney, Lindsay M. McMorran, Sheena E. Radford*, Alison E. Ashcroft

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Membrane proteins are notoriously challenging to analyze using mass spectrometry (MS) because of their insolubility in aqueous solution. Current MS methods for studying intact membrane proteins involve solubilization in detergent. However, detergents can destabilize proteins, leading to protein unfolding and aggregation, or resulting in inactive entities. Amphipathic polymers, termed amphipols, can be used as a substitute for detergents and have been shown to enhance the stability of membrane proteins. Here, we show the utility of amphipols for investigating the structural and functional properties of membrane proteins using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). The functional properties of two bacterial outer-membrane β-barrel proteins, OmpT and PagP, in complex with the amphipol A8-35 are demonstrated, and their structural integrities are confirmed in the gas phase using ESI-MS coupled with ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). The data illustrate the power of ESI-IMS-MS in separating distinct populations of amphipathic polymers from the amphipol-membrane complex while maintaining a conformationally "nativelike" membrane protein structure in the gas phase. Together, the data indicate the potential importance and utility of amphipols for the analysis of membrane proteins using MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9841-9847
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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