In order to shuttle substrates across the lipid bilayer, membrane proteins undergo a series of conformation changes that are influenced by protein structure, ligands, and the lipid environment. To test the effect of lipid on conformation change of the ABC transporter MolBC, EPR studies were conducted in lipids and detergents of variable composition. In both a detergent and lipid environment, MolBC underwent the same general conformation changes as detected by site-directed EPR spectroscopy. However, differences in activity and the details of the EPR analysis indicate conformational rigidity that is dependent on the lipid environment. From these observations, we conclude that native-like lipid mixtures provide the transporter with greater activity and conformational flexibility as well as technical advantages such as reconstitution efficiency and protein stability.
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