Main content area

An Artificial Molecular Shuttle Operates in Lipid Bilayers for Ion Transport

Chen, Sujun, Wang, Yichuan, Nie, Ting, Bao, Chunyan, Wang, Chenxi, Xu, Tianyi, Lin, Qiuning, Qu, Da-Hui, Gong, Xueqing, Yang, Yi, Zhu, Linyong, Tian, He
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018 v.140 no.51 pp. 17992-17998
equipment, lipid bilayers, lipids, median effective concentration, potassium, transporters
Inspired by natural biomolecular machines, synthetic molecular-level machines have been proven to perform well-defined mechanical tasks and measurable work. To mimic the function of channel proteins, we herein report the development of a synthetic molecular shuttle, [2]rotaxane 3, as a unimolecular vehicle that can be inserted into lipid bilayers to perform passive ion transport through its stochastic shuttling motion. The [2]rotaxane molecular shuttle is composed of an amphiphilic molecular thread with three binding stations, which is interlocked in a macrocycle wheel component that tethers a K⁺ carrier. The structural characteristics enable the rotaxane to transport ions across the lipid bilayers, similar to a cable car, transporting K⁺ with an EC₅₀ value of 1.0 μM (3.0 mol % relative to lipid). We expect that this simple molecular machine will provide new opportunities for developing more effective and selective ion transporters.