Membrane reconstitution of ABC transporters and assays of translocator function

Nat Protoc. 2008;3(2):256-66. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2007.519.


In this protocol, we describe a procedure for incorporating ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters into large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) and assays to determine ligand binding and solute translocation by these membrane-reconstituted systems. The reconstitution technique as described has been optimized for ABC transporters but can be readily adapted for other types of transport systems. Purified transporters are inserted into detergent-destabilized preformed liposomes and detergent is subsequently removed by adsorption onto polystyrene beads. Next, Mg-ATP or an ATP-regenerating system is incorporated into the vesicle lumen by one or more cycles of freezing-thawing, followed by extrusion through polycarbonate filters to obtain unilamellar vesicles. Binding and translocation of substrates are measured using isotope-labeled ligands and rapid filtration to separate the proteoliposomes from the surrounding medium. Quantitative information is obtained about dissociation constants (K(d)) for ligand binding, number of binding-sites, transport affinities (K(m)), rates of transport, and the activities of transporter molecules with opposite orientations in the membrane. The full protocol can be completed within 4-5 d.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Detergents
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membranes / physiology*
  • Octoxynol
  • Unilamellar Liposomes / metabolism*


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Detergents
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Unilamellar Liposomes
  • Octoxynol