Raphael Dos Santos Morais, Olivier Delalande, Javier Pérez, Liza Mouret, Arnaud Bondon, Anne Martel, Marie-Sousai Appavou, Elisabeth Le Rumeur, Jean-François Hubert, and Sophie Combet
Obtaining structural information on integral or peripheral membrane proteins is currently arduous due to the difficulty of their solubilization, purification, and crystallization (for X-ray crystallography (XRC) application). To overcome this challenge, bicelles are known to be a versatile tool for high-resolution structure determination, especially when using solution and/or solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and, to a lesser extent, XRC. For proteins not compatible with these high-resolution methods, small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering (SAXS and SANS, respectively) are powerful alternatives to obtain structural information directly in solution. In particular, the SANS-based approach is a unique technique to obtain low-resolution structures of proteins in interactions with partners by contrast-matching the signal coming from the latter. In the present study, isotropic bicelles are used as a membrane mimic model for SANS-based structural studies of bound peripheral membrane proteins. We emphasize that the SANS signal coming from the deuterated isotropic bicelles can be contrast-matched in 100% D2O-based buffer, allowing us to separately and specifically focus on the signal coming from the protein in interaction with membrane lipids. We applied this method to the DYS-R11–15 protein, a fragment of the central domain of human dystrophin known to interact with lipids, and we were able to recover the signal from the protein alone. This approach gives rise to new perspectives to determine the solution structure of peripheral membrane proteins interacting with lipid membranes and might be extended to integral membrane proteins.