Single-particle cryo-EM studies of transmembrane proteins in SMA copolymer nanodiscs

Chem Phys Lipids. 2019 Jul;221:114-119. doi: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2019.03.007. Epub 2019 Mar 30.


Styrene-maleic acid (SMA) copolymers can extract membrane proteins from native membranes along with lipids as nanodiscs. Preparation with SMA is fast, cost-effective, and captures the native protein-lipid interactions. On the other hand, cryo-EM has become increasingly successful and efficient for structural determinations of membrane proteins, with biochemical sample preparation often the bottleneck. Three recent cryo-EM studies on the efflux transporter AcrB and the alternative complex III: cyt c oxidase supercomplex have demonstrated the potential of SMA nanodisc samples to yield high-resolution structure information of membrane proteins.

Keywords: Alternative complex III; Cryo-EM; Lipid-protein interaction; Membrane protein; Multidrug transporter AcrB; Nanodisc; SMA; Styrene-maleic acid copolymer; Triacylated cysteine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryoelectron Microscopy*
  • Maleates / chemistry*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Particle Size
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Styrene / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Maleates
  • Polymers
  • Styrene
  • maleic acid