2013 R&D 100 Winner
Argonne's Rhoddobacter Membrane Protein Expression SystemHistorically, large-scale production of functional membrane proteins has been an arduous task. The overexpression of membrane proteins has been fraught with unique challenges; foremost is that expressed membrane proteins are hydrophobic and require a lipid environment for stability and function. Normally these compatible environments are a small fraction of the cell, and are crowded with endogenous membrane proteins that are required by the host cell. As a result, alternative systems presently used habitually produce non-membrane-localized, insoluble and misfolded products.

To address these requirements, Argonne National Laboratory has exploited the physiology of the Rhodobacter species of photosynthetic bacteria, which produce large quantities of internal membranes under certain growth conditions in response to changes in light intensity and/or oxygen tension. Argonne’s Rhodobacter Membrane Protein Expression System is a simple-to-use kit that coordinates synthesis of foreign membrane proteins with synthesis of new Rhodobacter membrane into which they are incorporated. Once produced by this system, the membrane proteins and the intracytoplasmic membrane vesicles sequestering them are readily isolated for use in drug discovery or process optimization experiments.

Protein expression system

Argonne National Laboratory

Development Team

Argonne National Laboratory's Rhodobacter Membrane Protein Expression System development team (l-r): Philip Laible and Deborah Hanson.


The Rhodobacter Membrane Protein Expression System Development Team from Argonne National Laboratory
Philip D. Laible, Principal Developer
Deborah K. Hanson, Principal Developer