Three families of non-reducing trisaccharide fatty acid monoesters bearing C₁₀ to C₁₈ acyl chains have been prepared by enzymatic synthesis in organic media. Their critical micelle concentrations, determined by dye-inclusion measurements, cover a broad range from mM to μM. The new compounds are capable of dissolving phospholipid vesicles and have been characterized as detergents in membrane biochemistry. In a comparative screening test for solubilizing/extraction capacity under native conditions of an ABC transporter as model integral membrane protein, the novel detergents have shown an excellent behavior similar to other commercial carbohydrate-based detergents and in some cases even better than the commonly employed β-dodecylmaltoside. The new detergents are also efficient at extracting membrane proteins from different lipidic environments and are likewise compatible with common protein affinity chromatography purification. These compounds may also be used for the preparation of (proteo)liposomes by detergent removal, not only using the classical method of detergent adsorption on hydrophobic resins but also by enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis of the ester bond. These results show the new detergents as promising tools to expand the arsenal for membrane protein studies.
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