The inherent hydrophobicity of membrane proteins is a major barrier to membrane protein research and understanding. Their low stability and solubility in aqueous environments coupled with poor expression levels make them a challenging area of research. For many years, the only way of working with membrane proteins was to optimise the environment to suit the protein, through the use of different detergents, solubilising additives, and other adaptations. However, with innovative protein engineering methodologies, the membrane proteins themselves are now being adapted to suit the environment. This mini-review looks at the types of adaptations which are applied to membrane proteins from a variety of different fields, including water solubilising fusion tags, thermostabilising mutation screening, scaffold proteins, stabilising protein chimeras, and isolating water-soluble domains.

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