Paper in Nano Letters

Nano LettersDNA-Tile Structures Induce Ionic Currents through Lipid Membranes.

Nano Lett. 2015 May 13;15(5):3134-8. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b00189. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Author information

  • 1†Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0HE, United Kingdom.
  • 2‡Center for NanoScience and Department of Physics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 80539 München, Germany.


Self-assembled DNA nanostructures have been used to create man-made transmembrane channels in lipid bilayers. Here, we present a DNA-tilestructure with a nominal subnanometer channel and cholesterol-tags for membrane anchoring. With an outer diameter of 5 nm and a molecular weight of 45 kDa, the dimensions of our synthetic nanostructure are comparable to biological ion channels. Because of its simple design, the structure self-assembles within a minute, making its creation scalable for applications in biology. Ionic current recordings demonstrate that the tile structures enable ion conduction through lipid bilayers and show gating and voltage-switching behavior. By demonstrating the design of DNA-based membrane channels with openings much smaller than that of the archetypical six-helix bundle, our work showcases their versatility inspired by the rich diversity of natural membrane components.