Reverse micelles in integral membrane protein structural biology by solution NMR spectroscopy.
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Integral membrane proteins remain a significant challenge to structural studies by solution NMR spectroscopy. This is due not only to spectral complexity, but also because the effects of slow molecular reorientation are exacerbated by the need to solubilize the protein in aqueous detergent micelles. These assemblies can be quite large and require deuteration for optimal use of the TROSY effect. In principle, another approach is to employ reverse micelle encapsulation to solubilize the protein in a low-viscosity solvent in which the rapid tumbling of the resulting particle allows for use of standard triple-resonance methods. The preparation of such samples of membrane proteins is difficult. Using a 54 kDa construct of the homotetrameric potassium channel KcsA, we demonstrate a strategy that employs a hybrid surfactant to transfer the protein to the reverse micelle system.