Expression and Purification of the Human Lipid-sensitive Cation Channel TRPC3 for Structural Determination by Single-particle Cryo-electron Microscopy

J Vis Exp. 2019 Jan 7;(143). doi: 10.3791/58754.


Transient receptor potential channels (TRPCs) of the canonical TRP subfamily are nonselective cation channels that play an essential role in calcium homeostasis, particularly store-operated calcium entry, which is critical to maintaining proper function of synaptic vesicle release and intracellular signaling pathways. Accordingly, TRPC channels have been implicated in a variety of human diseases including cardiovascular disorders such as cardiac hypertrophy, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease, and neurologic disorders such as spinocerebellar ataxia. Therefore, TRPC channels represent a potential pharmacologic target in human diseases. However, the molecular mechanisms of gating in these channels are still unclear. The difficulty in obtaining large quantities of stable, homogeneous, and purified protein has been a limiting factor in structure determination studies, particularly for mammalian membrane proteins such as the TRPC ion channels. Here, we present a protocol for the large-scale expression of mammalian ion channel membrane proteins using a modified baculovirus gene transfer system and the purification of these proteins by affinity and size-exclusion chromatography. We further present a protocol to collect single-particle cryo-electron microscopy images from purified protein and to use these images to determine the protein structure. Structure determination is a powerful method for understanding the mechanisms of gating and function in ion channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Buffers
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods*
  • Detergents
  • Fluorescence
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Stability
  • TRPC Cation Channels / chemistry*
  • TRPC Cation Channels / isolation & purification
  • TRPC Cation Channels / metabolism
  • TRPC Cation Channels / ultrastructure*


  • Buffers
  • Detergents
  • Lipids
  • TRPC Cation Channels
  • TRPC3 cation channel