Forming transmembrane channels using end-functionalized nanotubes

Meenakshi Dutt, Olga Kuksenok, Steven R. Little, Anna C. Balazs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Using dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) simulations, we examine the interaction between amphiphilic nanotubes and lipid bilayer membranes. The nanotubes are represented by a hydrophobic shaft that is end-functionalized with hydrophilic groups. Nanotubes that are capped by a monolayer of hydrophilic beads or also encompass hydrophilic "hairs" on just one end of the shaft are found to spontaneously penetrate and assume a transmembrane position; the process, however, depends critically on the membrane tension. On the other hand, nanotubes that include hydrophilic hairs at both ends of the hydrophobic shaft are not observed to spontaneously self-organize into the bilayer. When the membrane is stretched to form a pore, the nanotubes with two hairy ends adsorb on the edge of the pore and become localized in the membrane, thus forming a transmembrane channel. The findings from these studies provide guidelines for creating biomimetic nanotube channels that are capable of selectively transporting molecules through the membrane in response to changes in the local environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-250
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)


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