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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010 Aug;21(4):439-76. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2010.05.002. Epub 2010 Jun 18.

Applications of biological pores in nanomedicine, sensing, and nanoelectronics.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 1101 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2110, USA.


Biological protein pores and pore-forming peptides can generate a pathway for the flux of ions and other charged or polar molecules across cellular membranes. In nature, these nanopores have diverse and essential functions that range from maintaining cell homeostasis and participating in cell signaling to activating or killing cells. The combination of the nanoscale dimensions and sophisticated - often regulated - functionality of these biological pores make them particularly attractive for the growing field of nanobiotechnology. Applications range from single-molecule sensing to drug delivery and targeted killing of malignant cells. Potential future applications may include the use of nanopores for single strand DNA sequencing and for generating bio-inspired, and possibly, biocompatible visual detection systems and batteries. This article reviews the current state of applications of pore-forming peptides and proteins in nanomedicine, sensing, and nanoelectronics.

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