Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



J. Biol. Chem. (2021) 296 100557




Biological membranes define the boundaries of cells and compartmentalize the chemical and physical processes required for life. Many biological processes are carried out by proteins embedded in or associated with such membranes. Determination of membrane protein (MP) structures at atomic or near-atomic resolution plays a vital role in elucidating their structural and functional impact in biology. This endeavor has determined 1198 unique MP structures as of early 2021. The value of these structures is expanded greatly by deposition of their three-dimensional (3D) coordinates into the Protein Data Bank (PDB) after the first atomic MP structure was elucidated in 1985. Since then, free access to MP structures facilitates broader and deeper understanding of MPs, which provides crucial new insights into their biological functions. Here we highlight the structural and functional biology of representative MPs and landmarks in the evolution of new technologies, with insights into key developments influenced by the PDB in magnifying their impact.