ACS nano

Discriminating Residue Substitutions in a Single Protein Molecule Using a Sub-nanopore.

PMID 28538092


It is now possible to create, in a thin inorganic membrane, a single, sub-nanometer-diameter pore (i.e., a sub-nanopore) about the size of an amino acid residue. To explore the prospects for sequencing protein with it, measurements of the force and current were performed as two denatured histones, which differed by four amino acid residue substitutions, were impelled systematically through the sub-nanopore one at a time using an atomic force microscope. The force measurements revealed that once the denatured protein, stabilized by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), translocated through the sub-nanopore, a disproportionately large force was required to pull it back. This was interpreted to mean that the SDS was cleaved from the protein during the translocation. The force measurements also exposed a dichotomy in the translocation kinetics: either the molecule slid nearly frictionlessly through the pore or it slipped-and-stuck. When it slid frictionlessly, regardless of whether the molecule was pulled N-terminus or C-terminus first through the pore, regular patterns were observed intermittently in the force and blockade current fluctuations that corresponded to the distance between stretched residues. Furthermore, the amplitude of the fluctuations in the current blockade were correlated with the occluded volume associated with the amino acid residues in the pore. Finally, a comparison of the patterns in the current fluctuations associated with the two practically identical histones supported the conclusion that a sub-nanopore was sensitive enough to discriminate amino acid substitutions in the sequence of a single protein molecule by measuring volumes of 0.1 nm(3) per read.