Signals between a cell and its environment are often transmitted through membrane proteins; therefore, many membrane proteins, including G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and ion channels, are important drug targets. Structural information about membrane proteins remains limited owing to challenges in protein expression, purification and the selection of membrane-mimicking systems that will retain protein structure and function. This review describes recent advances in solution NMR applied to the structural study of integral membrane proteins. The examples herein demonstrate that solution NMR spectroscopy will play a unique role not only in structural analysis, but also drug discovery of membrane proteins.
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