Progress has been made in the transmembrane transport of light-driven molecular motors It is expected to be applied to drug delivery to achieve cancer treatment

Recently, Professor Bao Chunyan and Qu Dahui of the School of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering of East China University of Science and Technology cooperated to use light-driven molecular motors to simulate the structure and function of natural transporters, realizing efficient, photocontrous, selective cross-membrane transport of potassium ions, and cancer cell selectivity, which can trigger caspase (a protease)-dependent apoptosis by promoting the rapid outflow of potassium ions in cancer cells. The relevant results were published in German Applied Chemistry under the title of “Light-Driven Molecular Machine Drives Potassium Ion Channel Transport and Induces Apoptosis of Cancer Cells”.


Transmembrane transport of light-driven molecular motors is illustrated by the interviewee

“The transport of ions on cell membranes is closely related to many life activities, and the transport of potassium ions plays an important role in regulating neurotransmitter release, insulin secretion, smooth muscle contraction, cell proliferation, and apoptosis.” Bao Chunyan told China Science Daily, “For example, the outflow of potassium ions within cancer cells is one of the characteristics of apoptosis of cancer cells. Therefore, the efficient potassium ion artificial ion transport system is expected to be used as a drug to achieve cancer treatment. ”

Inspired by the use of biomolecular machines in nature to transport substances, the team innovatively proposed an artificial ion transporter structure with a light-driven motor as the core structure, which realizes the efficient cross-membrane transport of potassium ions by identifying the relay transport of the group and the rotational motion of the light-driven motor.

Studies have shown that the entire molecule can be inserted vertically and across the lipid membrane to form a stable channel of potassium ions, under ultraviolet light irradiation, the motor’s rotational motion within the phospholipid membrane provides additional energy, accelerating the transmembrane transport of ions.

Combined with molecular dynamics theory calculations, researchers can speculate that motor molecules achieve transmembrane transmission of ions through a series of processes of extramembrane ion capture, swimming into phospholipid membranes, relay transmission and swimming out to release ions. Cell experiments have demonstrated that the designed motor molecules can effectively act on cancer cell membranes, promoting intracellular potassium ion outflow by light-driven motor rotation, thereby triggering caspase-dependent apoptosis of cancer cells.

“This work provides a new opportunity to advance artificial ion delivery systems to achieve the treatment of cancer and other human diseases.” Bao Chunyan said. (Source: China Science Daily, Zhang Shuanghu, Huang Xin)

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