Single-molecule protein detection in a biofluid using a quantitative nanopore sensor

Avinash Kumar Thakur, Liviu Movileanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Protein detection in complex biological fluids has wide-ranging significance across proteomics and molecular medicine. Existing detectors cannot readily distinguish between specific and nonspecific interactions in a heterogeneous solution. Here, we show that this daunting shortcoming can be overcome by using a protein bait-containing biological nanopore in mammalian serum. The capture and release events of a protein analyte by the tethered protein bait occur outside the nanopore and are accompanied by uniform current openings. Conversely, nonspecific pore penetrations by nontarget components of serum, which take place inside the nanopore, are featured by irregular current blockades. As a result of this unique peculiarity of the readout between specific protein captures and nonspecific pore penetration events, our selective sensor can quantitatively sample proteins at single-molecule precision in a manner distinctive from those employed by prevailing methods. Because our sensor can be integrated into nanofluidic devices and coupled with high-throughput technologies, our approach will have a transformative impact in protein identification and quantification in clinical isolates for disease prognostics and diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2320-2326
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 27 2019


  • FhuA
  • electrophysiology
  • ion channel
  • membrane protein engineering
  • protein dynamics
  • protein-protein interface
  • stochastic sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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