Spontaneous Lipid Nanodisc Fomation by Amphiphilic Polymethacrylate Copolymers

J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Dec 27;139(51):18657-18663. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b10591. Epub 2017 Dec 5.


There is a growing interest in the use of lipid bilayer nanodiscs for various biochemical and biomedical applications. Among the different types of nanodiscs, the unique features of synthetic polymer-based nanodiscs have attracted additional interest. A styrene-maleic acid (SMA) copolymer demonstrated to form lipid nanodiscs has been used for structural biology related studies on membrane proteins. However, the application of SMA polymer based lipid nanodiscs is limited because of the strong absorption of the aromatic group interfering with various experimental measurements. Thus, there is considerable interest in the development of other molecular frameworks for the formation of polymer-based lipid nanodiscs. In this study, we report the first synthesis and characterization of a library of polymethacrylate random copolymers as alternatives to SMA polymer. In addition, we experimentally demonstrate the ability of these polymers to form lipid bilayer nanodiscs through the fragmentation of lipid vesicles by means of light scattering, electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and solution and solid-state NMR experiments. We further demonstrate a unique application of the newly developed polymer for kinetics and structural characterization of the aggregation of human islet amyloid polypeptide (also known as amylin) within the lipid bilayer of the polymer nanodiscs using thioflavin-T-based fluorescence and circular dichroism experiments. Our results demonstrate that the reported new styrene-free polymers can be used in high-throughput biophysical experiments. Therefore, we expect that the new polymer nanodiscs will be valuable in the structural studies of amyloid proteins and membrane proteins by various biophysical techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzothiazoles
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / chemistry
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Polymethacrylic Acids / chemistry*
  • Thiazoles / chemistry


  • Benzothiazoles
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Polymethacrylic Acids
  • Thiazoles
  • thioflavin T
  • polymethacrylic acid