Protein Binder Toolbox for Studies of Solute Carrier Transporters

J Mol Biol. 2024 Jun 13;436(16):168665. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2024.168665. Online ahead of print.


Transporters of the solute carrier superfamily (SLCs) are responsible for the transmembrane traffic of the majority of chemical substances in cells and tissues and are therefore of fundamental biological importance. As is often the case with membrane proteins that can be heavily glycosylated, a lack of reliable high-affinity binders hinders their functional analysis. Purifying and reconstituting transmembrane proteins in their lipidic environments remains challenging and standard approaches to generate binders for multi-transmembrane proteins, such as SLCs, channels or G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are lacking. While generating protein binders to 27 SLCs, we produced full length protein or cell lines as input material for binder generation by selected binder generation platforms. As a result, we obtained 525 binders for 22 SLCs. We validated the binders with a cell-based validation workflow using immunofluorescent and immunoprecipitation methods to process all obtained binders. Finally, we demonstrated the potential applications of the binders that passed our validation pipeline in structural, biochemical, and biological applications using the exemplary protein SLC12A6, an ion transporter relevant in human disease. With this work, we were able to generate easily renewable and highly specific binders against SLCs, which will greatly facilitate the study of this neglected protein family. We hope that the process will serve as blueprint for the generation of binders against the entire superfamily of SLC transporters.

Keywords: SLC12A6; high-affinity protein binders; protein binder validation; solute carriers; transmembrane transporters.