Smoothing membrane protein structure determination by initial upstream stage improvements

Augusto Quaresma Pedro, João António Queiroz, Luís António Passarinha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Membrane proteins (MP) constitute 20–30% of all proteins encoded by the genome of various organisms and perform a wide range of essential biological functions. However, despite they represent the largest class of protein drug targets, a relatively small number high-resolution 3D structures have been obtained yet. Membrane protein biogenesis is more complex than that of the soluble proteins and its recombinant biosynthesis has been a major drawback, thus delaying their further structural characterization. Indeed, the major limitation in structure determination of MP is the low yield achieved in recombinant expression, usually coupled to low functionality, pinpointing the optimization target in recombinant MP research. Recently, the growing attention that have been dedicated to the upstream stage of MP bioprocesses allowed great advances, permitting the evolution of the number of MP solved structures. In this review, we analyse and discuss effective solutions and technical advances at the level of the upstream stage using prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms foreseeing an increase in expression yields of correctly folded MP and that may facilitate the determination of their three-dimensional structure. A section on techniques used to protein quality control and further structure determination of MP is also included. Lastly, a critical assessment of major factors contributing for a good decision-making process related to the upstream stage of MP is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5483-5500
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2019


  • Codon usage
  • Host
  • Membrane protein
  • Optimization
  • Production
  • Protein 3D-structure
  • Quality control
  • Structure determination


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