Measurements of ion conductance through α-hemolysin pore in a bilayer lipid membrane revealed blocking of the ion channel by a series of rhodamine 19 and rhodamine B esters. The longest dwell closed time of the blocking was observed with rhodamine 19 butyl ester (C4R1), whereas the octyl ester (C8R1) was of poor effect. Voltage asymmetry in the binding kinetics indicated that rhodamine derivatives bound to the stem part of the aqueous pore lumen. The binding frequency was proportional to a quadratic function of rhodamine concentrations, thereby showing that the dominant binding species were rhodamine dimers. Two levels of the pore conductance and two dwell closed times of the pore were found. The dwell closed times lengthened as the voltage increased, suggesting impermeability of the channel for the ligands. Molecular docking analysis revealed two distinct binding sites within the lumen of the stem of the α-hemolysin pore for the C4R1 dimer, but only one binding site for the C8R1 dimer. The blocking of the α-hemolysin nanopore by rhodamines could be utilized in DNA sequencing as additional optical sensing owing to bright fluorescence of rhodamines if used for DNA labeling.
Structure, dynamics, and functioning of hydrated lipid bilayers - model cell membranes - are governed by a thin balance of intermolecular interactions between constituents of these systems. Besides the hydrophobic effect, which determines the overall bilayer skeleton, important contribution is made by Hbonds between lipids, water, and ions. This determines crucial phenomena in cell membranes: dynamic clustering, hydration, fine tuning of microscopic physico-chemical properties, which permit fast adaptation of membranes to external agents (e.g., proteins). Characteristics of H-bonds (strength, spatial location, etc.) dramatically depend on local polarity properties of water-lipid environment. Here, we calculated free energies of H-bonded complexes between lipids and water in explicit solvents of different polarity (water, methanol, chloroform) mimicking membrane environment at different depth. The strongest H-bonds were observed in nonpolar environment, although the overall bilayer organization imposes serious limitations on the distribution of various types of H-bonds over hydrophobic/hydrophilic regions (corresponding to dielectric media with low and high permeability). This creates a delicate balance, which determines a unique H-bonding pattern for each particular lipid bilayer. This was confirmed via atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) of several hydrated lipid bilayers. Understanding of the factors regulating H-bonding propensities in such systems is indispensable for rational design of new membranelike materials with predefined properties. One example - an artificial lipid with engineered hydroxyl group - is studied via MD simulations. It is shown that such lipids can induce significant changes of key characteristics of model membranes. This opens new avenues in goal-oriented design of artificial membranes with engineered properties.
The over-damped relaxation of elastic networks constructed by contact maps of hierarchically-folded fractal (crumpled) polymer globules was investigated in detail. It was found that the relaxation dynamics of an anisotropic fractal globule is very similar to the behavior of biological molecular machines, like motor proteins. Being perturbed, the system quickly relaxes to a low-dimensional manifold, M, with a large basin of attraction and then slowly approaches equilibrium, not escaping M. Taking these properties into account, fractal globules, even those made by synthetic polymers, are suggested to be artificial molecular machines able to transform perturbations into directed quasi-mechanical motion along a defined path.