Stoichiometry determination of macromolecular membrane protein complexes

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Gaining knowledge of the structural makeup of protein complexes is critical to advance our understanding of their formation and functions. This task is particularly challenging for transmembrane protein complexes, and grows ever more imposing with increasing size of these large macromolecular structures. The last 10 years have seen a steep increase in solved high-resolution membrane protein structures due to both new and improved methods in the field, but still most structures of large transmembrane complexes remain elusive. An important first step towards the structure elucidation of these difficult complexes is the determination of their stoichiometry, which we discuss in this review. Knowing the stoichiometry of complex components not only answers unresolved structural questions and is relevant for understanding the molecular mechanisms of macromolecular machines but also supports further attempts to obtain high-resolution structures by providing constraints for structure calculations.

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