Preparation of tethered-lipid bilayers on gold surfaces for the incorporation of integral membrane proteins synthesized by cell-free expression

Angélique Coutable, Christophe Thibault, Jérôme Chalmeau, Jean Marie FrancÌois, Christophe Vieu, Vincent Noireaux, Emmanuelle Trévisiol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


There is an increasing interest to express and study membrane proteins in vitro. New techniques to produce and insert functional membrane proteins into planar lipid bilayers have to be developed. In this work, we produce a tethered lipid bilayer membrane (tBLM) to provide sufficient space for the incorporation of the integral membrane protein (IMP) Aquaporin Z (AqpZ) between the tBLM and the surface of the sensor. We use a gold (Au)-coated sensor surface compatible with mechanical sensing using a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) or optical sensing using the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) method. tBLM is produced by vesicle fusion onto a thin gold film, using phospholipid-polyethylene glycol (PEG) as a spacer. Lipid vesicles are composed of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-poly(ethyleneglycol) -2000-N-[3-(2-pyridyldithio)propionate], so-called DSPE-PEG-PDP, at different molar ratios (respectively, 99.5/0.5, 97.5/2.5, and 95/5 mol %), and tBLM formation is characterized using QCM-D, SPR, and atomic force technology (AFM). We demonstrate that tBLM can be produced on the gold surface after rupture of the vesicles using an α helical (AH) peptide, derived from hepatitis C virus NS5A protein, to assist the fusion process. A cell-free expression system producing the E. coli integral membrane protein Aquaporin Z (AqpZ) is directly incubated onto the tBLMs for expression and insertion of the IMP at the upper side of tBLMs. The incorporation of AqpZ into bilayers is monitored by QCM-D and compared to a control experiment (without plasmid in the cell-free expression system). We demonstrate that an IMP such as AqpZ, produced by a cell-free expression system without any protein purification, can be incorporated into an engineered tBLM preassembled at the surface of a gold-coated sensor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3132-3141
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 25 2014


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