18.05.2022: Publication Alert - A reversibly gated protein-transporting membrane channel made of DNA
Here we pioneered a large diameter DNA nanopore with a sequence-specific, fully reversible gating. By controlling the transport of various cargoes ranging from small-molecule dye to folded proteins, the DNA pores exceed the natural analog—ligand-gated ion channels which have much narrower pore dimension.
Controlled transport of biomolecules across lipid bilayer membranes is of profound significance in biological processes. In cells, cargo exchange is mediated by dedicated channels that respond to triggers, undergo a nanomechanical change to reversibly open, and thus regulate cargo flux. Replicating these processes with simple yet programmable chemical means is of fundamental scientific interest. Artificial systems that go beyond nature’s remit in transport control and cargo are also of considerable interest for biotechnological applications but challenging to build. Here, we describe a synthetic channel that allows precisely timed, stimulus-controlled transport of folded and functional proteins across bilayer membranes. The channel is made via DNA nanotechnology design principles and features a 416 nm2 opening cross-section and a nanomechanical lid which can be controllably closed and re-opened via a lock-and-key mechanism. We envision that the functional DNA device may be used in highly sensitive biosensing, drug delivery of proteins, and the creation of artificial cell networks.