Phospholipid bilayer Nanodiscs are novel model membranes derived from high-density lipoprotein particles and have proven to be useful in studies of membrane proteins. Membrane protein enzymology has been hampered by the inherent insolubility of membrane proteins in aqueous environments and has necessitated the use of model membranes such as liposomes and detergent-stabilized micelles. Current model membranes display a polydisperse particle size distribution and can suffer from problems of inconsistency and instability. It is also unclear how well they mimic biological lipid bilayers. In contrast, Nanodiscs, the particle size of which is constrained by a coat of scaffold proteins, are relatively monodisperse, stable model membranes with a "nativelike" lipid bilayer. Nanodiscs have already been used to study a variety of membrane proteins, including cytochrome P450s, seven-transmembrane proteins, and bacterial chemoreceptors. These proteins are simultaneously monomerized, solubilized, and incorporated into the well-defined membrane environment provided by Nanodiscs. Nanodiscs may also provide useful insights into the thermodynamics and biophysics of biological membranes and binding of small molecules to membranes.
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