June 20, 2011
Mimicking Nature At The Nanoscale: Selective Transport Across A Biomimetic Nanopore
Researchers at Delft University of Technology and the University of Basel have established a biomimetic nanopore that provides a unique test and measurement platform for the way that proteins move into a cell's nucleus. In the journal Nature Nanotechnology (June 19 - online), they report an artificial nanopore that is functionalized with key proteins which mimicks the natural nuclear pore. Upon testing the transport of individual proteins through the biomimetic pore, they found that most proteins cannot move through, but some specific ones can indeed pass. This is the hallmark of the intriguing selectivity that is also found in natural pores. The biomimetic pore is fully functional and can be used as a testing platform for studies of drug delivery into a cell's nucleus.
The nuclear pore complex
Dekker: "One promising approach to study this nuclear transport is biomimetics "“ the development of synthetic systems that imitate biological structures and processes. Advances in nanotechnology now make it possible to study and shape matter at the nanometer scale, opening the way to imitate biological structures at the molecular level to both study and harness their ingenuity." The group of dr. Roderick Lim at the University of Basel purified the nuclear pore proteins and Dekkers group made the biomimetic nanopores of these by attaching these proteins to small holes in a solid-state support.
The new research, performed chiefly by lead author Stefan Kowalczyk, a graduate student in Dekkers lab, demonstrates that it is possible to establish a biomimetic nuclear pore and to monitor transport of individual proteins across the pore. Importantly, the biomimetic pore exhibits strong selectivity, just like the natural nuclear pore complex: ImpB proteins do pass the pores, whereas BSA proteins do not (as illustrated by the attached image). A differing degree of selectivity was found, depending on which exact nuclear pore proteins were used to functionalize the pore. The researchers have shown that the biomimetic pore is fully functional and can be used as a testing platform for studies of drug delivery into a cell's nucleus.
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