Production of membrane proteins (MPs) is a challenging task as their hydrophobic nature and their specific requirements in cellular expression systems frequently prevent an efficient synthesis. Cell-free (CF) expression systems have been developed in recent times as promising tools by offering completely new approaches to synthesize MPs directly into artificial hydrophobic environments. A considerable variety of CF produced MPs has been characterized by functional and structural approaches and the high success rates and the rapidly accumulating data on quality and expression efficiencies increasingly attract attention. In addition, CF expression is a highly dynamic and versatile technique and new modifications for improved performance as well as for extended applications for the labeling, throughput expression and proteomic analysis of MPs are rapidly emerging.
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