In order to fold properly, membrane proteins must be synthesized by a dedicated mechanism and in a complex lipidic and aqueous environment.
The transmission of signals and of metabolites through the membrane of all organisms is absolutely required for their life and their survival. Proteins penetrating the lipid bilayer of membranes are responsible of this vital connection between internal and external environments. Due to this strategic location, integral membrane proteins are the main targets for both actual and future drugs used in therapies.
For the development of new therapies it would be useful to have membrane proteins in the purest form but still in native conformation. In contrast to soluble proteins that are quite easy to produce, this is very challenging for integral membrane proteins; indeed, they lay on different mutually incompatible environments, i.e. "aqueous-lipidic-aqueous". The influence of membrane phospholipids on membrane proteins is especially significant. In absence of such specific environments, membrane proteins do not fold properly and consequently are not functional. In addition, most membrane proteins must acquire specific post-translational modifications for their proper folding.