Facilitated translocation of polypeptides through a single nanopore

Robert Bikwemu, Aaron J. Wolfe, Xiangjun Xing, Liviu Movileanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The transport of polypeptides through nanopores is a key process in biology and medical biotechnology. Despite its critical importance, the underlying kinetics of polypeptide translocation through protein nanopores is not yet comprehensively understood. Here, we present a simple two-barrier, one-well kinetic model for the translocation of short positively charged polypeptides through a single transmembrane protein nanopore that is equipped with negatively charged rings, simply called traps. We demonstrate that the presence of these traps within the interior of the nanopore dramatically alters the free energy landscape for the partitioning of the polypeptide into the nanopore interior, as revealed by significant modifications in the activation free energies required for the transitions of the polypeptide from one state to the other. Our kinetic model permits the calculation of the relative and absolute exit frequencies of the short cationic polypeptides through either opening of the nanopore. Moreover, this approach enabled quantitative assessment of the kinetics of translocation of the polypeptides through a protein nanopore, which is strongly dependent on several factors, including the nature of the translocating polypeptide, the position of the traps, the strength of the polypeptide- attractive trap interactions and the applied transmembrane voltage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number454117
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 17 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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