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Open Access Review

Tuning microbial hosts for membrane protein production

Maria Freigassner1, Harald Pichler12 and Anton Glieder12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, Petersgasse 14, 8010 Graz, Austria

2 Austrian Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB), c/o Research Centre Applied Biocatalysis, Petersgasse 14, A-8010 Graz, Austria

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Microbial Cell Factories 2009, 8:69  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-8-69

Published: 29 December 2009

Abstract

The last four years have brought exciting progress in membrane protein research. Finally those many efforts that have been put into expression of eukaryotic membrane proteins are coming to fruition and enable to solve an ever-growing number of high resolution structures. In the past, many skilful optimization steps were required to achieve sufficient expression of functional membrane proteins. Optimization was performed individually for every membrane protein, but provided insight about commonly encountered bottlenecks and, more importantly, general guidelines how to alleviate cellular limitations during microbial membrane protein expression. Lately, system-wide analyses are emerging as powerful means to decipher cellular bottlenecks during heterologous protein production and their use in microbial membrane protein expression has grown in popularity during the past months.

This review covers the most prominent solutions and pitfalls in expression of eukaryotic membrane proteins using microbial hosts (prokaryotes, yeasts), highlights skilful applications of our basic understanding to improve membrane protein production. Omics technologies provide new concepts to engineer microbial hosts for membrane protein production.