High-resolution structures of membrane proteins have so far been obtained mostly by X-ray crystallography, on samples where the protein is surrounded by detergent. Recent developments of solid-state NMR have opened the way to a new approach for the study of integral membrane proteins inside a membrane. At the same time, the extension of cell-free expression to the production of membrane proteins allows for the production of proteins tailor made for NMR. We present here an in situ solid-state NMR study of a membrane protein selectively labeled through the use of cell-free expression. The sample consists of MscL (mechano-sensitive channel of large conductance), a 75kDa pentameric alpha-helical ion channel from Escherichia coli, reconstituted in a hydrated lipid bilayer. Compared to a uniformly labeled protein sample, the spectral crowding is greatly reduced in the cell-free expressed protein sample. This approach may be a decisive step required for spectral assignment and structure determination of membrane proteins by solid-state NMR.
Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.