Chemical Tagging of Membrane Proteins Enables Oriented Binding on Solid Surfaces

Omri Heifler, Chanoch Carmeli*, Itai Carmeli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In biological systems, membrane proteins play major roles in energy conversion, transport, sensing, and signal transduction. Of special interest are the photosynthetic reaction centers involved in the initial process of light energy conversion to electrical and chemical energies. The oriented binding of membrane proteins to solid surfaces is important for biotechnological applications. In some cases, novel properties are generated as a result of the interaction between proteins and solid surfaces. We developed a novel approach for the oriented tagging of membrane proteins. In this unique process, bifunctional molecules are used to chemically tag the exposed surfaces of membrane proteins at selected sides of membrane vesicles. The isolated tagged membrane proteins were self-assembled on solid surfaces, leading to the fabrication of dens-oriented layers on metal and glass surfaces, as seen from the atomic force microscopy (AFM) images. In this work, we used chromatophores and membrane vesicles containing protein chlorophyll complexes for the isolation of the bacterial reaction center and photosystem I, from photosynthetic bacteria and cyanobacteria, respectively. The oriented layers, which were fabricated on metal surfaces, were functional and generated light-induced photovoltage that was measured by the Kalvin probe apparatus. The polarity of the photovoltage depended on the orientation of proteins in the layers. Other membrane proteins can be tagged by the same method. However, we preferred the use of reaction centers because their orientation can be easily detected by the polarity of their photovoltages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4556-4562
Number of pages7
Issue number16
StatePublished - 28 Apr 2020


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