NANOTECHNOLOGY

Artificial ion channels

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 237-238
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6270.237-e

Structual model of a biomimetic, DNA-based ion channel

PHOTO: BURNS ET AL., NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY (14 DECEMBER 2015) NATURE

Membrane proteins that form channels for ions to pass through are key regulators of transport into and out of biological cells. Burns et al. report a synthetic channel that can transport molecular ions across a bilayer in a controlled way. In contrast to biological ion channels, the synthetic channel is made from DNA, which folds into predictable structures and is easier to control than are proteins. The channel is held in the membrane via hydrophobic anchors. In the presence of a specific DNA “key,” it selectively transports small organic molecules with a positive charge across the bilayer. DNA channels of this kind are comparatively cheap and fast to produce and may find uses in drug delivery and synthetic biology.

Nat. Nanotechnol. 10.1038/NNANO.2015.279 (2015).

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