Various types of biological and synthetic nanopores have been developed and utilized for the high-throughput investigation of individual biomolecules. Biological nanopores made with channel proteins are so far superior to solid-state ones in terms of sensitivity and reproducibility. However, the performance of a biological nanopore is dependent on the protein in the channel structure its dimensions are predetermined and are difficult to modify for broader applications. Here inspired by the cytotoxic mechanisms of a saponin derivative, alpha-hederin, we report a nonproteinaceous nanopore that can be formed spontaneously in a lipid membrane. We propose the pore-forming mechanism of alpha-hederin in a cholesterol-rich lipid membrane and a strategy to control the pore-forming rate by a lipid partitioning method. The small diameter and effective thickness of alpha-hederin nanopores enabled us to discriminate ssDNA homopolymers as well as four types of nucleotides, showing its potential as a DNA sequencing tool.
Keywords: alpha-hederin; discrimination; nanopore; self-assembly; single nucleotide; size-tunable