Simulations of electrophoretic RNA transport through transmembrane carbon nanotubes.

Computational Science and Engineering Laboratory, ETH Zürich, Switzerland.
Biophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 3.83). 05/2008; 94(7):2546-57. DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.106.102467
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The study of interactions between carbon nanotubes and cellular components, such as membranes and biomolecules, is fundamental for the rational design of nanodevices interfacing with biological systems. In this work, we use molecular dynamics simulations to study the electrophoretic transport of RNA through carbon nanotubes embedded in membranes. Decorated and naked carbon nanotubes are inserted into a dodecane membrane and a dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine lipid bilayer, and the system is subjected to electrostatic potential differences. The transport properties of this artificial pore are determined by the structural modifications of the membrane in the vicinity of the nanotube openings and they are quantified by the nonuniform electrostatic potential maps at the entrance and inside the nanotube. The pore is used to transport electrophoretically a short RNA segment and we find that the speed of translocation exhibits an exponential dependence on the applied potential differences. The RNA is transported while undergoing a repeated stacking and unstacking process, affected by steric interactions with the membrane headgroups and by hydrophobic interaction with the walls of the nanotube. The RNA is structurally reorganized inside the nanotube, with its backbone solvated by water molecules near the axis of the tube and its bases aligned with the nanotube walls. Upon exiting the pore, the RNA interacts with the membrane headgroups and remains attached to the dodecane membrane while it is expelled into the solvent in the case of the lipid bilayer. The results of the simulations detail processes of molecular transport into cellular compartments through manufactured nanopores and they are discussed in the context of applications in biotechnology and nanomedicine.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that covers a vast and diverse array of devices and machines derived from engineering, physics, materials science, chemistry and biology. These devices have found applications in biomedical sciences, such as targeted drug delivery, bio-imaging, sensing and diagnosis of pathologies at early stages. In these applications, nano-devices typically interface with the plasma membrane of cells. On the other hand, naturally occurring nanostructures in biology have been a source of inspiration for new nanotechnological designs and hybrid nanostructures made of biological and non-biological, organic and inorganic building blocks. Lipids, with their amphiphilicity, diversity of head and tail chemistry, and antifouling properties that block nonspecific binding to lipid-coated surfaces, provide a powerful toolbox for nanotechnology. This review discusses the progress in the emerging field of lipid nanotechnology.
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences 02/2013; 14. · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Study of the mechanisms understanding how chemically functionalized carbon nanotubes internalize into mammalian cells is important in view of their design as new tools for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. The initial contact between the nanotube and the cell membrane allows elucidation of the types of interaction that are occurring and the contribution from the types of functional groups at the nanotube surface. Here we offer a combination of experimental and theoretical evidence of the initial phases of interaction between functionalized carbon nanotubes with model and cellular membranes. Both experimental and theoretical data reveal the critical parameters to determine direct translocation of the nanotubes through the membrane into the cytoplasm as a result of three distinct processes that can be summarized as landing, piercing and uptake.
    Nanoscale 09/2013; · 6.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mechanism of ion permeation through an anion-doped carbon nanotube (ANT), a model of ion channel, is investigated. Using this model system, many trajectory calculations are performed to obtain the potential energy profile, in addition to the free energy profile, that enables to separate the energy and the entropic contributions, along the ion permeation. It is found that the mechanism of the transport is governed by the interplay between the energetic and the entropic forces. The rate of the ion permeation can be controlled by changing the balance between these contributions with altering, for example, the charge and/or the length of ANT, which increases the rate of the ion permeation by nearly two orders of magnitude. The dominant free energy barrier at the entrance of ANT is found to be caused by the entropy bottleneck due to the narrow phase space for the exchange of a water molecule and an incoming ion.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 10/2013; 139(16):165106. · 3.12 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 2, 2014