Nanopore Machines (WP5)

Protein-importing molecular motors perform the intriguing task of protein recognition, grabbing a folded protein, unfolding it, translocating it across a cellular membrane, after which it refolds again. These motor functions in membranes have not yet been investigated at the single molecule level.
Our studies focus on the bacterial Sec system, which is considered a model system for the many other (also human) existing protein-import motors. Laser tweezer techniques are ideal tools to get further insight into the dynamics and working mechanisms of such nanopore machines. The gained knowledge will be the base for the construction of simple biomimetic models for nanopore machines performing crucial tasks as protein recognition, substrate grabbing and size adaptation.

Protein transport across a cellular membrane by the Sec system (left), and schematic of proposed laser-tweezers measurements (right)

The Sec-YEG nanopore machine at work