The analysis of single cysteine molecules with an aerolysin nanopore†
Biological nanopore technology has the advantages of high selectivity and high reproducibility for characterizing single biomolecules. However, it is challenging to achieve protein sequencing owing to the heterogeneous charge distributions of the protein and the small structural difference from each amino acid. Here, we took the inherent electrochemically confined sensing interface of the aerolysin nanopore to enhance its interaction with single amino acids. The results showed that single cysteine molecules, a highly reactive amino acid in aging and neurodegenerative diseases, could be captured and monitored by an aerolysin nanopore as it produced distinctive current blockages with a prolonged statistical duration of 0.11 ± 0.02 ms at +120 mV. This is the first report of the detection of a single amino acid molecule by a biological nanopore directly without any modification and labelling. This study facilitates the direct detection of single amino acids by regulating the characteristic interaction between the single amino acids and the designed sensing interface of aerolysin nanopores.