Self-assembling nanotubes consisting of aromatic oligoamide macrocycles as highly conducting transmembrane pores
Helsel, Amber Jade
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The flow of ions into or out of a cell through channels is a specific and carefully regulated process that is vital for life. Although much knowledge has been gained about the transmembrane proteins that pass ions through the lipid bilayers of cells, there is still great uncertainty concerning the chemical mechanisms of selectivity and transport. Synthetic models of ion channels have been developed in order to provide more insight into the intricacies of ion transport, although few with large pores and conductances. The Gong laboratory has synthesized a class of oligoamide macrocycles with tunable cavities and side chains that self-assemble into nanotubes. With the proper side chains, the macrocycles could self-assemble within a membrane creating a pore, which could potentially transport ions and other polar molecules. The macrocycles were tested for their ability to permeate membranes and transport ions on liposomes and planar lipid bilayers prepared in our lab. Through fluorescence, dynamic NMR, and planar lipid bilayer studies, we found that the macrocycles are capable of transporting ions across a lipid bilayer at high rates and large conductances. Therefore, a system has been developed that not only forms pores with high conductances but possesses a built-in tunability suitable for many applications.