Model membranes have been used for decades in solid-state NMR, and have been very useful to study lipid order and membrane proteins reconstituted in a bilayer environment. It is only since 2011 that solid-state NMR has been extended to the study of membrane molecules within intact cells, sometimes even living cells (1). After a brief historical introduction, we will focus on recent results obtained in our laboratory. We will start with various living bacteria fed with deuterated fatty acids, and show how it can help assess bacterial membrane rigidity with 2H solid-state NMR. After optimizing the labelling procedure, we will show how it can be used to probe membrane health and interactions with antimicrobial peptides (2). We will then switch to more complex eukaryotic systems such as the micro-alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and show how 2D 13C magic-angle spinning solid-state NMR can tackle the assignment and structure of biomolecules such as lipids, proteins, sugars from the cell wall, and starch, directly within the cell (3).
(1) X. L. Warnet, A. A. Arnold, I. Marcotte and D. E. Warschawski Biophys. J. 109:2461–2466 (2015)
(2) V. Booth, D. E. Warschawski, N. P. Santisteban, M. Laadhari and I. Marcotte Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1865:1500-1511 (2017)
(3) A. Poulhazan, A. A. Arnold, D. E. Warschawski and I. Marcotte Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19:3817 (2018)