SMALP network

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Register for the next International SMALP Conference

A specialized set of polymers including styrene-maleic acid (SMA) are used to extract small discs of membrane, termed SMA lipid particles (SMALPs), has changed the established landscape of research in biological membranes.

Membrane proteins play vital roles in cellular signaling and transport, making them key therapeutic targets for many human diseases. Their functions are dependent on associated biological lipids, which are displaced by harsh detergents.

By allowing membrane proteins to be purified and studied while retaining their lipid environment, synthetic polymers including SMA and DIBMA enable the study of lipid intact membrane:protein assemblies (memteins) using a wide variety of techniques.

New applications of SMALPs are rapidly emerging making membrane protein study more accessible and widespread. This meeting will explore the latest developments within the field, including novel polymer derivatives with improved properties, affinity and fluorescent techniques and structural biology applications, bringing together a wide range of researchers to share their findings.

Join us on Thursday September 15, 2022 to share your story and insights, gain useful tips in our practical discussion session, and hear from a diversity of experts in the field.

Confirmed speakers on Sept 15, 2022:

harris bernsteinHarris Bernstein, Section Chief: Protein Biogenesis Section, Genetics and Biochemistry Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), who recently published "Cryo-EM structures reveal multiple stages of bacterial outer membrane protein folding" in Cell, 185:1143-1156. 

Krishnarjuna BankalaKrishnarjuna Bankala, post-doc with Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, who recently published on direct extraction of membrane proteins using SMA-based and inulin-based polymers including "Detergent-free isolation of CYP450-reductase's FMN-binding domain in E. coli lipid-nanodiscs using a charge-free polymer" Chem Commun. 58:4913-491.

gestel-kuylerGestél Kuyler, PhD Candidate, Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, Stellenbosch University with Bert Klumperman and visiting scientist with Mark Wheatley at the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University.





European SMALP Conference 2022 (Apr 6-8)

SMALP 2022

Speakers included:

Adrian Kopf, Utrecht University: Synthesis and evaluation of a novel library of copolymers: Expanding the toolbox for the study of membrane proteins
Antoinette Killian, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Bert Klumperman, Stellenbosch University: Non-alternating SMA with narrow molecular weight distribution
David Roper: University of Warwick: SMALP isolation of the S.pneumoniae FtsEX divisome complex with peptidoglycan hydrolase PcsB and actin homologue FtsA, required for cell division.
George Neville - University of Bath: Fluorescent SMA copolymers to facilitate membrane protein studies in lipid nanodiscs
Steven Harborne, Peak Proteins: Preparation of GPCRs in SMALP for Biophysical Characterisation
Isabelle Mouro-Chanteloup, Inserm: Detergent-free isolation of native red blood cell membrane complexes
James Mitchell-White, University of Nottingham: A fluorescent inhibitor for probing substrate binding to ABCG2
Jan Kubicek, Cube-Biotech: Finding the perfect match- utilizing shotgun proteomics to create a global database of membrane protein solubilisation
John Young, University of Oxford: Combining Peptidiscs and Mass Photometry to characterize membrane proteins in aqueous solution
Laura Wilk, Robert Koch Institute: Mimicking the multivalent binding of bacterial protein toxins to their cellular receptors in a native-like membrane environment
Mark Wheatley, Coventry University
Michael Overduin, University of Alberta: SMALP technology and new concepts for membrane targeted drug discovery
Paula Booth, Kings College London: Co-translational membrane protein folding in native lipid environments
Peter Judge, University of Oxford
Rachel Grime, University of Birmingham
Rosa Catania, University of Leeds: Detergent-free reconstitution of membrane proteins into hybrid polymer-lipid vesicles
Stephanie Nestorow, University of Birmingham: Polymer Nanoencapsulation Techniques as a Tool to Investigate Insecticide Targets
Stephen Hall, University of Warwick, UK
Tim Dafforn, University of Birmingham
Xueqing Wang, University of Birmingham: Characterising platelet membrane receptors using SMALPs

A workshop on membrane protein solubilization, purification and downstream characterization using native nanodiscs is included from 9:00-12:30 on April 8.

This conference is being organized by the Biochemical Society with sponsors including Biochemical Society Transactions, Nanotemper, Cube Biotech, Cytiva,Generon , Molecular Dimensions, and Orbiscope. Bursaries are available.

The UK workshop on membrane proteins covering solubilization and biophysical characterization techniques will be held at Aston University from April 4-6, 2022 with talks by:

Alan Goddard, Alice Rothnie, Megan Cox, Vincent Postis: Lipid nanoparticles
Alice Rothnie, Aston University: Lipid nanoparticles (SMALPs)
Andrew Quigley, Diamond Light Source: High throughput membrane protein expression and purification
Bonnie Wallace, Birkbeck: Circular dichroism of membrane proteins
Boyan Bonev, University of Nottingham: NMR of membrane proteins
Colin Grant, Refeyn: Mass Photometry: Measuring Molecules with Light
Corinne Spickett, Aston University: Mass spec - lipidomics
Isabel Moraes, NPL: Membrane protein crystallography
John Simms, Aston University: MD of membrane proteins
Luke Clifton, STFC: Unravelling the Structural Complexity of Protein-Lipid Interactions with Neutron Reflectometry
Marcus Allen, University of Brighton: Ion channel recording in planar lipid bilayers
Megan Cox, Aston University/Meritics Ltd: Nanoparticle analysis
Stephen Muench, University of Leeds: Single particle CryoEM for membrane protein structure
Vincent Postis, University of Leeds: Membrane protein solubilisation: detergents, SMALPs, nanodiscs and amphipols

International SMALP Conference on January 28, 2022

8:45 Tips & Tricks to share insights into how to use amphipathic polymers and nanodiscs

Session 1 Chair: Bert Klumperman, Stellenbosch University

annette-meister09:00 Annette Meister, Institute for Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg studies membrane protein interactions and nanodiscs and has recently published Solubilization of artificial mitochondrial membranes by amphiphilic copolymers of different charge and Nanoscale Model System for the Human Myelin Sheath.

Dmitry-Veprintsev09:20 Dmitry Veprintsev, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE), University of Nottingham is developing approaches for incorporation of protein and systems dynamics of GPCRs into drug discovery, and recently published Functional solubilization of the β2-adrenoceptor using diisobutylene maleic acid.

Xueqing-Wang09:40 Xueqing Wang, PhD student in University of Birmingham, UK, will present "Characterising platelet membrane receptors in their native environment using SMALP" and focuses on the investigation of a wide range of platelet membrane receptor interactions and stoichiometry using SMALP-related assays, and the purification of SMALPs containing platelet collagen receptor GPVI from over-expression systems.

Session 2 Chair: Brittany Wiseman, University of Alberta

bernadette-byrne10:05 Bernadette Byrne, Professor of Molecular Membrane Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London studies the structures, lipid interactions and aggregation properties of membrane proteins, and develops tools and amphilies for large- scale production of stable, functional membrane proteins for structural biological characterization. SLIDES

benoit-zuber10:25 Benoît Zuber, Associate Professor for Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Bern, studies synaptic vesicles, neuronal signaling and exocytic mechanisms using cryo-electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography, and recently published Cryo-EM structure of the octameric pore of Clostridium perfringens β-toxin.


Thorsten-Schmidt10:45 Thorsten Schmidt, Assistant Professor for Experimental Biophysics Kent State University, is developing DNA-based tools and devices for single-molecule cryo-EM of membrane proteins as well as other applications in biophysics, molecular biology, nano photonics he will speak on DNA-encircled lipid nanodiscs. SLIDES

Session 3 Chair: Stephanie Pitch, UC Santa Cruz

Peter-Tieleman11:10 Peter Tieleman, University of Calgary will speak on Analyzing lipid-protein interactions around GPCRs and focuses on biological membranes and molecular dynamics simulation methods for nanodiscs and membrane systems, analysis of interactions within proteins and lipids, and the development of improved lipid models.

Shijia-Zhang11:30 Shijian Zhang, Instructor, Harvard Medical School and Department of Microbiology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will present HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins in SMALP are stable and preserve native conformations, and submitted Analysis of glycosylation and disulfide bonding of wild-type SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein.

Pramod-Kumar11:50 Pramod Kumar, Research Investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Post Doc Research Associate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is using cryo-EM and SMALPs to better understand ion channel structure & dynamics; he recently published Structure and function at the lipid-protein interface of a pentameric ligand-gated ion channel.


Background on SMALP

The SMALP system is being developed by the international research community as an alternative to conventional detergents, which tend to dissociate, destabilize and deactivate native membrane proteins.

SMA polymer

A variety of amphipathic polymers like styrene maleic anhydride have been found to directly and spontaneously solubilize proteins and bound lipids from membranes when activated. This provides opportunities for understanding and exploiting the structure and function of native membrane protein complexes.

As SMALP technology is relatively new, the participation of the wider community and sharing of new ideas and practices amongst researchers is the best way to ensure continued rapid development of the field.

Join our network and come to our meetings to discover how SMALP materials and methods could be used in your research.

Join our community.

The SMALP network offers polymers, methods and meetings to support the growing community of scientists and companies interested in the preparation of membrane nanodiscs formed by polymers including styrene maleic acid for biological research and drug discovery applications.

Register for a day of insightful talks from experts in the structural biology and functions of membrane proteins and nanodisc development, discussions with academic and industry leaders, and enjoy breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks on us.

These events are offered to bring together academic and industry experts, postdocs and students who are interested in membrane protein structural biology, lipidomics, proteomics, target discovery and biophysical analysis of bilayers and amphipathic polymers.

We welcome researchers from across academia and industry to join us in lively discussions and debate about the latest advances in native nanodiscs, membrane proteins, polymer chemistry, lipid biophysics, structural biology, and applications including drug discovery and delivery.