Comparison of MSP Nanodisc and Synthetic Nanodisc

A detailed understanding of the structure and biochemical and biophysical processes of membrane proteins is necessary for the advancement of life science and biomedical applications. Historically, the main barrier to membrane protein investigations has been the tendency of membrane proteins to aggregate (due to their hydrophobic nature) in aqueous solution as well as on surfaces. Nanodiscs provide a new and powerful tool for a broad spectrum of biochemical and biophysical studies of membrane proteins and are commonly acknowledged as an optimal membrane mimetic system for solubilizing and stabilization membrane proteins. Therefore, nanodiscs have been rapidly developed since their appearance and two major categories of membrane scaffold protein (MSP) nanodiscs and synthetic nanodiscs have been formed. Both MSP nanodiscs and synthetic nanodiscs are meant for the solubilization & stabilization of membrane proteins by mimicking a cell-membrane environment. So, the question is what type of nanodisc best suits your project? In general, each of the systems has its own unique characteristics, challenges and advantages. Alfa Chemistry compared the main differences between MSP nanodiscs and synthetic nanodiscs, and further summarized their advantages and disadvantages. This work may reduce your trial and error, save time for your research and help you choose the suitable nanodisc system.

Key Differences Between MSP Nanodiscs and Synthetic Nanodiscs

ItemsMSP NanodiscsSynthetic Nanodiscs
Stabilizing BeltMembrane scaffold protein (such as MSP1D1, MSP1E3D1, MSP2N2, etc.)Synthetic polymers (such as SMA, DIBMA, AASTY, AASTY, modified SMA, etc.)
Lipid CompositionArtificial phospholipid (such as DMPC, DPPC, POPC.)Native cell membrane phospholipids.
SizeDepends on the used MSP protein size (Each MSP protein with uniform size (+/-1 nm)). Typically, 8-16 nm.The size is variable depending on the length of the polymer chain.
UV AbsorptionDue to the presence of the MSP protein, the MSP nanodisc itself has ultraviolet absorption at a wavelength of 280 nm.SMA based nanodiscs has ultraviolet absorption at a wavelength of 280 nm, but other synthetic nanodiscs such as DIBMA-based nanodiscs do not absorb at wavelengths of 280 nm.
Nanodiscs CreationThere are three ways.There's only one way.
Involvement of DetergentsA detergent is needed to extract the membrane proteins from the cell membrane, firstly.No detergent needed.

Advantages / Disadvantages of MSP Nanodiscs and Synthetic Nanodiscs

Through the comparison of main differences between MSP nanodiscs and synthetic nanodiscs, we further make a brief summary of their advantages and disadvantages.

ItemsMSP NanodiscsSynthetic Nanodiscs
  • The uniform size makes MSP nanosheets suitable for further study of membrane proteins, such as Cryo-EM.
  • Researchers are free to choose suitable phospholipids to better conduct their studies.
  • It can be used to cell-free expressed membrane protein.
  • MSP is the oldest technology in nanodiscs and a great deal of research has been done to date. Therefore, it is the easiest to use, and the large amount of research data provides an important starting point for users compared to other systems.
  • The variability of the diameter reduces some of the necessary screening steps.
  • Native cell membrane phospholipids make membrane proteins more stable.
  • The problem of UV interference can be avoided by selecting suitable polymers, making quantitative analysis of membrane proteins easy.
  • Copolymers can extract membrane proteins directly from cell membranes without the need to use detergents, reducing some unnecessary steps and also avoiding the inactivation of membrane proteins during this process.
  • MSP proteins have UV absorption at 280 nm, which interferes quantitative studies of membrane proteins.
  • MSP nanodiscs rely heavily on using detergent as a starting point for membrane proteins nanodisc incorporation, which may cause protein destabilization.
  • It can not be used to cell-free expressed membrane protein, and only membrane proteins from living cell material can be stabilized.
  • Less research data does not provide a good convenience for later researchers.

Related Products and Services

Alfa Chemistry is capable of producing a wide variety of MSP nanodiscs and synthetic nanodiscs related products, including MSP, SMA, DIBMA, AASTY, pre-assembled MSP nanodiscs and some kits. Meanwhile, we provide membrane proteins solubilization and stabilization service by using nanodiscs technology. These high-quality products and services will accelerate your membrane protein research, from membrane protein structure research, function research to application research. If you are interested in membrane proteins, please feel free to contact us for more details.

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