The ADP/ATP Carrier (AAC) is the most abundant transporter of the mitochondrial inner membrane. The central role that this transporter plays in cellular energy production highlights the importance of understanding its structure, function, and the basis of its pathologies. As a means of preparing proteoliposomes for the study of membrane proteins, several groups have explored the use of cell-free translation systems to facilitate membrane protein integration directly into preformed unilamellar vesicles without the use of surfactants. Using AAC as a model, we report for the first time the detergent-free reconstitution of a mitochondrial inner membrane protein into liposomes using a wheat germ-based in vitro translation system. Using a host of independent approaches, we demonstrate the efficient integration of AAC into vesicles with an inner membrane-mimetic lipid composition and, more importantly, that the integrated AAC is functionally active in transport. By adding liposomes at different stages of the translation reaction, we show that this direct integration is obligatorily cotranslational, and by synthesizing stable ribosome-bound nascent chain intermediates, we show that the nascent AAC polypeptide interacts with lipid vesicles while ribosome-bound. Finally, we show that the presence of the phospholipid cardiolipin in the liposomes specifically enhances AAC translation rate as well as the efficiency of vesicle association and integration. In light of these results, the possible mechanisms of liposome-assisted membrane protein integration during cell-free translation are discussed with respect to the mode of integration and the role of specific lipids. © 2012 Long et al.
Long, A. R., O’Brien, C. C., & Alder, N. N. (2012). The Cell-Free Integration of a Polytopic Mitochondrial Membrane Protein into Liposomes Occurs Cotranslationally and in a Lipid-Dependent Manner. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046332