Production and Crystallization of Membrane Proteins
Membrane proteins play indispensable roles in the living cells, such as receptors for signal transduction across the cell membrane, solute transporters, ion channels, and so on, thus many of them have been drug discovery targets. However, since the handling of membrane proteins is very difficult, all the processes of overexpression, protein purification, crystallization and structural analysis are challenging. Protein Functional and Structural Biology Team has been developing techniques to clear those difficulties one by one. In particular, we are improving the cell-free protein synthesis technique optimized for membrane proteins, which can be applied for membrane proteins which failed to be overexpressed in the cell-based expression systems. We are also improving the in meso crystallization method for membrane proteins and have been developing the automated dispensing robot for membrane protein crystallization. Using these technologies, we succeeded in determining the crystal structures of cell-free synthesized membrane proteins. It is expected that the structural information of membrane proteins in atomic resolution dramatically promotes the development of drug discovery.