The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 247, Issue 9–10, pp 797–814 | Cite as

Labeling and Functionalizing Amphipols for Biological Applications

  • Christel Le Bon
  • Jean-Luc Popot
  • Fabrice GiustiEmail author


Amphipols (APols) are short amphipathic polymers developed as an alternative to detergents for handling membrane proteins (MPs) in aqueous solution. MPs are, as a rule, much more stable following trapping with APols than they are in detergent solutions. The best-characterized APol to date, called A8-35, is a mixture of short-chain sodium polyacrylates randomly derivatized with octylamine and isopropylamine. Its solution properties have been studied in detail, and it has been used extensively for biochemical and biophysical studies of MPs. One of the attractive characteristics of APols is that it is relatively easy to label them, isotopically or otherwise, without affecting their physical-chemical properties. Furthermore, several variously modified APols can be mixed, achieving multiple functionalization of MP/APol complexes in the easiest possible manner. Labeled or tagged APols are being used to study the solution properties of APols, their miscibility, their biodistribution upon injection into living organisms, their association with MPs and the composition, structure and dynamics of MP/APol complexes, examining the exchange of surfactants at the surface of MPs, labeling MPs to follow their distribution in fractionation experiments or to immobilize them, increasing the contrast between APols and solvent or MPs in biophysical experiments, improving NMR spectra, etc. Labeling or functionalization of APols can take various courses, each of which has its specific constraints and advantages regarding both synthesis and purification. The present review offers an overview of the various derivatives of A8-35 and its congeners that have been developed in our laboratory and discusses the pros and cons of various synthetic routes.


Membrane protein A8-35 Amphipathic polymers Fluorophores Immobilization Isotopic labeling 



Poly(sodium acrylate) based amphipol comprising 35 % of free carboxylate, 25 % of octyl chains, 40 % of isopropyl groups, and whose number-average molar mass is ~4.3 kDa


Poly(sodium acrylate) based amphipol comprising 75 % of free carboxylate, 25 % of octylchains, and whose number-average molar mass is ~4 kDa




Analytical ultracentrifugation


Biotinylated A8-35


Molar mass dispersity


A8-35 with deuterated octylamine and isopropylamine side chains








Ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl]carbodiimide hydrochloride


Fluorescently labeled A8-35


Alexa Fluor 647-labeled A8-35


Nitrobenzoxadiazole-labeled A8-35


Rhodamine-labeled A8-35


Förster resonance energy transfer


Hydrogenated A8-35


Hydrophobically modified poly(acrylic acid)


HMPA synthesis




Hexahistidine tag


Hexahistidine tag-carrying A8-35




Immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography


Imidazole-carrying A8-35


Inelastic neutron scattering


Number-average molar mass


Membrane protein






Nuclear Overhauser effect


Nitrilotriacetic acid




ODN-carrying A8-35


Poly(acrylic acid)


Perdeuterated A8-35


Small angle neutron scattering


Sulfonated amphipol derived from A8-75, comprising 40 % of taurine moieties


Surface plasmon resonance




Trifluoroacetic acid


Thiol-carrying APol


Tosvinyl group


Universal amphipol


Amine-carrying A8-35



This work was supported by the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique, by Université Paris-7 Denis Diderot, and by U.S. National grant R01AI092129 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche grant ‘X-Or,’ ANR SVSE5 2010-BLAN-1535, and grant ‘DYNAMO,’ ANR-11-LABX-0011-01 from the French ‘Initiative d’Excellence’ program. CLB has been the beneficiary of funding by the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale, the Agence Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique (ANR-07-BLAN-0092 ‘Refolding GPCRs’ and SVSE5 2010-BLAN-1535 ‘X-Or’) and the Direction Innovation et Relations avec les Entreprises of the CNRS.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christel Le Bon
    • 1
  • Jean-Luc Popot
    • 1
  • Fabrice Giusti
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie Physico-Chimique des Protéines Membranaires, UMR 7099, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique (FRC 550)CNRS/Université Paris 7ParisFrance

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