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Mechanosensitive channels respond to mechanical forces exerted on the cell membrane and play vital roles in regulating the chemical equilibrium within cells and their environment. Highresolution structural information is required to understand the gating mechanisms of mechanosensitive channels. Protein-lipid interactions are essential for the structural and functional integrity of mechanosensitive channels, but detergents cannot maintain the crucial native lipid environment for purified mechanosensitive channels. Recently, detergent-free systems have emerged as alternatives for membrane protein structural biology. This report shows that while membrane-active polymer, SMA2000, could retain some native cell membrane lipids on the transmembrane domain of the mechanosensitive-like YnaI channel, the complete structure of the transmembrane domain of YnaI was not resolved. This reveals a significant limitation of SMA2000 or similar membrane-active copolymers. This limitation may come from the heterogeneity of the polymers and nonspecific interactions between the polymers and the relatively large hydrophobic pockets within the transmembrane domain of YnaI. However, this limitation offers development opportunities for detergent-free technology for challenging membrane proteins.


This work was originally published in Membranes, available at membranes11110849.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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