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Characterization of membrane protein samples in the presence of detergents

Membrane protein extraction and solubilization


Membrane proteins fulfill vital biological roles, representing a significant portion of potential therapeutical targets for a variety of diseases. As studying their native behavior is important, detergents and other membrane mimetics can be used for membrane protein solubilization prior to functional or structural studies.

Detergents are widely used for membrane protein extraction and throughout the protein purification process - detergents can also act as membrane mimetics for membrane protein solubilization. However, their presence in samples can interferes with some analytical techniques.

A schematic showing membrane proteins solubilized with detergents, as well as detergent micelles.

Characterizing membrane protein samples that include detergents

Dataset showing the effect of rising concentration of two common detergents on micelle formation and mass photometry contrast.

Mass photometry can measure samples containing detergents, eliminating the need for complete detergent removal. It works with a wide range of buffers, including those used for membrane protein extraction and solubilization.


As measurements take less than 5 minutes and readily detect protein aggregation, it is easy to characterize membrane protein samples. Moreover, mass photometry can detect detergent micelles, which makes it possible to determine the critical micelle concentration (CMC) of detergents under different conditions

To learn how mass photometry interacts with commonly used detergents

Mass photometry with detergents

Mass photometry measurements of samples containing detergent as well as solubilized and aggregated membrane proteins

This application note will show you how to take and interpret mass photometry measurements of samples containing detergents. You will also learn how to perform quick dilutions prior to measurement to minimize detergent noise in your samples after membrane protein extraction. This application note reports the CMC values of common detergents as measured with mass photometry. It also shows data comparing soluble and aggregated protein samples to demonstrate how mass photometry can quickly evaluate membrane protein solubilization.

Additional resources​


Investigating membrane protein complexes with mass photometry

This webinar shows the applications of mass photometry for the study of two examples of macromolecular complexes formed by eukaryotic membrane proteins. In both cases, mass photometry supported the use of detergents for membrane protein extraction and solubilization. The webinar showcases what mass photometry can do, and what makes it suitable for studies of membrane protein complexes.

A close-up of the hand of a mass photometry user loading sample into a mass photometer


How to study membrane proteins with mass photometry


Mass photometry provides valuable information on the purity and behavior of samples containing membrane proteins and membrane mimetics like detergents. In this blog post, we examine the role of mass photometry in membrane protein analysis and describe case studies that illustrate how mass photometry is contributing to the field.

For more information on analyzing membrane proteins with mass photometry

More Application Notes

Browse through our catalogue of application notes highlighting some recent case studies featuring mass photometry.

Mass photometry of nucleic acids

Mass photometry of nanocages

Mass photometry of AAVs

Basics of mass photometry

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