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Amphiphilic styrene-maleic acid copolymers (SMAs) have been shown to effectively extract membrane proteins surrounded by an annulus of native membrane lipids via the formation of nanodiscs. Recent reports have shown that 2-butoxyethanol-functionalized SMA derivatives promote the extraction of membrane proteins from thylakoid membranes, whereas unfunctionalized SMA is essentially ineffective. However, it is unknown how the extent of functionalization and identity of sidechains impact protein solubilization and specificity. Herein, we show that the monoesterification of an SMA polymer with hydrophobic alkoxy ethoxylate sidechains leads to an increased solubilization efficiency (SE) of trimeric photosystem I (PSI) from the membranes of cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus. The specific SMA polymer used in this study, PRO 10235, cannot encapsulate single PSI trimers from this cyanobacterium; however, as it is functionalized with alkoxy ethoxylates of increasing alkoxy chain length, a clear increase in the trimeric PSI SE is observed. Furthermore, an exponential increase in the SE is observed when >50% of the maleic acid repeat units are monoesterified with long alkoxy ethoxylates, suggesting that the PSI extraction mechanism is highly dependent on both the number and length of the attached side chains.


Nathan G Brady, Cameron E Workman, Bridgie Cawthon, Barry D Bruce, Brian K Long. Protein Extraction Efficiency and Selectivity of Esterified Styrene-Maleic Acid Copolymers in Thylakoid Membranes. Biomacromolecules. 2021 Jun 14;22(6):2544-2553

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PMID: 34038122

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