Versatile cyclodextrin nanotube synthesis with functional anchors for efficient ion channel formation: design, characterization and ion conductance†
Biomimetic ion channels with different materials have been extensively designed to study the dynamics in a confined medium. These channels allow the development of several applications, such as ultra-fast sequencing and biomarker detection. When considering their synthesis, the use of cheap, non-cytotoxic and readily available materials is an increasing priority. Cyclodextrins, in supramolecular architectures, are widely utilized for pharmaceutical and biotechnological applications. Recent work has shown that short nanotubes (NTs) based on alpha-cyclodextrin (α-CD) assemble transient ion channels into membranes without cytotoxicity. In this study, we probe the influence of new cyclodextrin NT structural parameters and chemical modifications on channel formation, stability and electrical conductance. We report the successful synthesis of β- and γ-cyclodextrin nanotubes (β-CDNTs and γ-CDNTs), as evidenced by mass-spectrometry and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. CDNTs were characterized by their length, diameter and number of CDs. Two hydrophobic groups, silylated or vinylated, were attached along the γ-CDNTs, improving the insertion time into the membrane. All NTs synthesized form spontaneous biomimetic ion channels. The hydrophobic NTs exhibit higher stability in membranes. Electrophysiological measurements show that ion transport is the main contribution of NT conductance and that the ion energy penalty for the entry into these NTs is similar to that of biological channels.