Stabilization of Supramolecular Membrane Protein-Lipid Bilayer Assemblies Through Immobilization in a Crystalline Exoskeleton

Artificial native-like lipid bilayer systems constructed from phospholipids assembling into unilamel- lar liposomes allow the reconstitution of detergent-solubilized transmembrane proteins into supramolecular lipid-protein assemblies called proteoliposomes, which mimic cellular membranes. Stabilization of these com- plexes remains challenging because of their chemical composition, the hydrophobicity and structural instabil- ity of membrane proteins, and the lability of interactions between protein, detergent, and lipids within micelles and lipid bilayers. In this work we demonstrate that metastable lipid, protein-detergent, and protein-lipid su- pramolecular complexes can be successfully generated and immobilized within zeolitic-imidazole framework- 8 (ZIF-8) to enhance their stability against chemical and physical stressors. Upon immobilization in ZIF-8 bio- composites, blank liposomes, and model transmembrane metal transporters in detergent micelles or embed- ded in proteoliposomes resist elevated temperatures, exposure to chemical denaturants, aging, and mechanical stresses. Extensive morphological and functional characterization of the assemblies upon exfoliation reveal that all these complexes encapsulated within the framework maintain their native morphology, structure, and activity, which is otherwise lost rapidly without immobilization.