This research programme is dedicated to the development of rationally designed transmembrane molecular machines. Proteins that undergo nanomechanical transitions to facilitate transmembrane communication, or that operate as transmembrane pumps, rotary motors, and molecular transporters are ubiquitous in nature. Despite much progress in the development of solid-state and chemical nanomechanical devices such as molecular rotors, walkers and logic devices, no such systems have been developed that operate across lipid membranes.
Thus, by exploiting our knowledge of biological and synthetic supramolecular components we seek to construct some of the first ever transmembrane molecular machines built to man-made specifications. Mirroring the operation of biological transmembrane molecular machines, compartmentalisation facilitates the construction of nanomechanical devices that can be driven by electrochemical gradients, or those that operate in the reverse sense by turning over chemical fuels to establish non-equilibrium conditions. We intend to demonstrate these principles by combining nanopore-based techniques and DNA-recognition processes to assemble a range of membrane-spanning nanomechanical devices that can be operated, controlled and monitored down to single-molecule levels:
Project 1 – Transmembrane logic & signalling on the single-molecule level.
Project 2 – A transmembrane transporter.
Project 3 – A transmembrane reciprocating pump.
Project 4 – A transmembrane rotary motor.
Call for proposal
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