Expression strategies for structural studies of eukaryotic membrane proteins

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2016 Jun:38:137-44. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Jun 27.


Integral membrane proteins in eukaryotes are central to various cellular processes and key targets in structural biology, biotechnology and drug development. However, the number of available structures for eukaryotic membrane protein belies their physiological importance. Recently, the number of available eukaryotic membrane protein structures has been steadily increasing due to the development of novel strategies in construct design, expression and structure determination. Here, we examine the major expression systems exploited for eukaryotic membrane proteins. Additionally we strive to tabulate and describe the recent expression strategies in eukaryotic membrane protein structural biology. We find that a majority of targets have been expressed in advanced host systems and modified from their wild-type form with distinct focus on conformation and thermostabilisation. However, strategies for native protein purification should also be considered where possible, particularly in light of the recent advances in single particle cryo electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crystallization
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genetic Engineering / methods*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*


  • Detergents
  • Membrane Proteins