Conformational trapping of an ABC transporter in polymer lipid nanoparticles

Naomi L Pollock, James Lloyd, Carlotta Montinaro, Megha Rai, Timothy R Dafforn

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ATP-binding cassette (ABC) proteins play important roles in cells as importers and exporters but as membrane proteins they are subject to well-known challenges of isolating pure and stable samples for study. One solution to this problem is to use styrene-maleic acid lipid particles (SMALPs). Styrene-maleic acid (SMA) can be added directly to membranes, forming stable nanoparticles incorporating membrane proteins and lipids. Here we use Sav1866, a well-characterised bacterial protein, as a proxy for ABC proteins in general. We show that stable and monodispersed Sav1866 can be purified at high yield using SMA. This protein can be used for biophysical characterisations showing that its overall structure is consistent with existing evidence. However, like other ABC proteins in SMALPs it does not hydrolyse ATP. The lack of ATPase activity in ABC-SMALPs may result from conformational trapping of the proteins in SMALPs. Undertaken in a controlled manner, conformational trapping is a useful tool to stabilise protein samples into a single conformation for structural studies. Due to their inability to hydrolyse ATP, the conformation of Sav1866-SMALPs cannot be altered using ATP and vanadate after purification. To achieve controlled trapping of Sav1866-SMALPs we show that Sav1866 in crude membranes can be incubated with ATP, magnesium and sodium orthovanadate. Subsequent solubilisation and purification with SMA produces a sample of Sav1866-SMALPs with enhanced stability, and in a single conformational state. This method may be generally applicable to vanadate-sensitive ABC proteins and overcomes a limitation of the SMALP system for the study of this protein family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalThe Biochemical journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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