Integral membrane proteins: bottom-up, top-down and structural proteomics

Karr, U., Simonian, M. and Whitelegge, J.P.

Integral membrane proteins and lipids constitute the bilayer membranes that surround cells and sub-cellular compartments, and modulate movements of molecules and information between them. Since membrane protein drug targets represent a disproportionately large segment of the proteome, technical developments need timely review. Areas covered: Publically available resources such as Pubmed were surveyed. Bottom-up proteomics analyses now allow efficient extraction and digestion such that membrane protein coverage is essentially complete, making up around one third of the proteome. However, this coverage relies upon hydrophilic loop regions while transmembrane domains are generally poorly covered in peptide-based strategies. Top-down mass spectrometry where the intact membrane protein is fragmented in the gas phase gives good coverage in transmembrane regions, and membrane fractions are yielding to high-throughput top-down proteomics. Exciting progress in native mass spectrometry of membrane protein complexes is providing insights into subunit stoichiometry and lipid binding, and cross-linking strategies are contributing critical in-vivo information. Expert commentary: It is clear from the literature that integral membrane proteins have yielded to advanced techniques in protein chemistry and mass spectrometry, with applications limited only by the imagination of investigators. Key advances toward translation to the clinic are emphasized.


Karr, U., Simonian, M. and Whitelegge, J.P. "Integral membrane proteins: bottom-up, top-down and structural proteomics" Expert Review of Proteomics (2017): 715-723