In living cells, membrane proteins are essential to signal transduction, nutrient use, and energy exchange between the cell and environment. Due to challenges in protein expression, purification and crystallization, deposition of membrane protein structures in the Protein Data Bank lags far behind existing structures for soluble proteins. This review describes recent advances in solution NMR allowing the study of a select set of peripheral and integral membrane proteins. Surface-binding proteins discussed include amphitropic proteins, antimicrobial and anticancer peptides, the HIV-1 gp41 peptides, human α-synuclein and apolipoproteins. Also discussed are transmembrane proteins including bacterial outer membrane β-barrel proteins and oligomeric α-helical proteins. These structural studies are possible due to solubilization of the proteins in membrane-mimetic constructs such as detergent micelles and bicelles. In addition to protein dynamics, protein-lipid interactions such as those between arginines and phosphatidylglycerols have been detected directly by NMR. These examples illustrate the unique role solution NMR spectroscopy plays in structural biology of membrane proteins.
Keywords: Bicelles, HMQC, Membrane proteins, Micelles, NOESY, Paramagnetic NMR, Protein dynamics, RDC, Structural biology, TROSY
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