Membrane Transporter Expression Facility

What is the Membrane Transporter Expression Facility (MTEF)?

The MTEF enables expression of genes (plant or animal) in a cell system (e.g. Xenopus oocytes, plant cell line or protoplast, animal cell line) that can be robotically screened for various membrane transport activities and has applications in drug discovery and protein engineering. The facility includes both manual and automated electrophysiology equipment for voltage clamp or flux experiments (e.g. patch clamp or TEVC systems, the robocyte and MIFE).

image of robocyte equipment


The core of the facility is the ‘robocyte’ that was obtained in a recent Australian Research Council (LIEF) grant. The robocyte is a high throughput Xenopus oocyte mRNA injecting and voltage clamp apparatus that is designed to screen 96 Xenopus oocytes for transport protein activity in a consecutive manner. A solution handling robot is combined to allow screening of pharmaceuticals and ion/solute responses.

Imaging and TEVC System for initial screening

The MTEF incorporates a Xenopus frog colony maintained by the University of Adelaide Animal Housing facilities, plus expertise in surgically removing oocytes from frogs without sacrificing the animals. The MTEF has a dedicated research associate engaged to harvest oocytes and setting up the robocyte for researchers expressing a very broad array of plant and animal genes encoding membrane transporters and associated proteins.

The MTEF will enable the functional characterisation of newly discovered transporter genes and enable researchers to screen pharmaceuticals for activity on the transporter protein. The facility will also provide advice on how to prepare genes for expression and determine the transport function of expressed proteins. It is possible to characterise non-electrogenic and electrogenic transporters, as well as aquaporin genes.

A number of patents have been born from work at the MTEF, plus a great deal of publications over recent years.

Please contact us if you are interested in using these facilities.