Measuring a frequency spectrum for single-molecule interactions with a confined nanopore
Nanopore analysis is a powerful technique for single molecule analysis by virtue of its electrochemically confined effects. As a single molecule translocates through the nanopore, the featured ionic current pattern on the time scale contains single molecule characteristics including volume, charge, and conformational properties. Although the characteristics of a single molecule in a nanopore have been written to the featured ionic current, extracting the dynamic information from a complex current trace is still a big challenge. Here, we present an applicable nanopore analysis method employing the Hilbert–Huang Transform (HHT) to study the vibrational features and interactions of a single molecule during the dynamic translocation process through the confined space of a nanopore. The HHT method is specially developed for analyzing nonlinear and non-stationary data that is highly compatible with nanopore data with a high frequency resolution. To provide proof-of-concept, we applied HHT to measure the frequency response for the wild-type (WT) aerolysin and mutant K238E aerolysin nanopores with and without the presence of poly(dA)4, respectively. The energy–frequency–time distribution spectra demonstrate that the biological nanopore contributes greatly to the characteristics of the high frequency component (>2 kHz) in the current recording. Our results suggest that poly(dA)4 undergoes relatively more consistent and confined interactions with K238E than WT, leading to a prolonging of the duration time. Therefore, the characteristics in frequency analysis could be regarded as an “single-molecule ionic spectrum” inside the nanopore, which encodes the detailed behaviours of single-molecule weak interactions.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Electrochemistry at nano-interfaces