Publications

Nanopores : A versatile tool to study protein Dynamics

Schmid, Sonja; Dekker, Cees

Summary

Proteins are the active workhorses in our body. These biomolecules perform all vital cellular functions from DNA replication and general biosynthesis to metabolic signaling and environmental sensing.While static 3D structures are now readily available, observing the functional cycle of proteins-involving conformational changes and interactions-remains very challenging, e.g., due to ensemble averaging. However, time-resolved information is crucial to gain a mechanistic understanding of protein function. Single-molecule techniques such as FRET and force spectroscopies provide answers but can be limited by the required labelling, a narrow time bandwidth, and more. Here, we describe electrical nanopore detection as a tool for probing protein dynamics. With a time bandwidth ranging from microseconds to hours, nanopore experiments cover an exceptionally wide range of timescales that is very relevant for protein function. First, we discuss the working principle of label-free nanopore experiments, various pore designs, instrumentation, and the characteristics of nanopore signals. In the second part, we review a few nanopore experiments that solved research questions in protein science, and we compare nanopores to other single-molecule techniques. We hope to make electrical nanopore sensing more accessible to the biochemical community, and to inspire new creative solutions to resolve a variety of protein dynamics-one molecule at a time.