skip to main content

Title: Unique selectivity trends of highly permeable PAP[5] water channel membranes
Artificial water channels are a practical alternative to biological water channels for achieving exceptional water permeability and selectivity in a stable and scalable architecture. However, channel-based membrane fabrication faces critical barriers such as: (1) increasing pore density to achieve measurable gains in permeability while maintaining selectivity, and (2) scale-up to practical membrane sizes for applications. Recently, we proposed a technique to prepare channel-based membranes using peptide-appended pillar[5]arene (PAP[5]) artificial water channels, addressing the above challenges. These multi-layered PAP[5] membranes (ML-PAP[5]) showed significantly improved water permeability compared to commercial membranes with similar molecular weight cut-offs. However, due to the distinctive pore structure of water channels and the layer-by-layer architecture of the membrane, the separation behavior is unique and was still not fully understood. In this paper, two unique selectivity trends of ML-PAP[5] membranes are discussed from the perspectives of channel geometry, ion exclusion, and linear molecule transport.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Faraday Discussions
Page Range / eLocation ID:
193 to 204
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Peptide-appended Pillar[5]arene (PAP) is an artificial water channel that can be incorporated into lipid and polymeric membranes to achieve high permeability and enhanced selectivity for angstrom-scale separations [Shen et al. Nat. Commun. 9 :2294 (2018)]. In comparison to commonly studied rigid carbon nanotubes, PAP channels are conformationally flexible, yet these channels allow a high water permeability [Y. Liu and H. Vashisth Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 21 :22711 (2019)]. Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we study water dynamics in PAP channels embedded in biological (lipid) and biomimetic (block-copolymer) membranes to probe the effect of the membrane environment on water transport characteristics of PAP channels. We have resolved the free energy surface and local minima for water diffusion within the channel in each type of membrane. We find that water follows single file transport with low free-energy barriers in regions surroundings the central ring of the PAP channel and the single file diffusivity of water correlates with the number of hydrogen bonding sites within the channel, as is known for other sub-nm pore-size synthetic and biological water channels [Horner et al. Sci. Adv. 1 :e1400083 (2015)]. 
    more » « less
  2. The electrochemical gradients established across cell membranes are paramount for the execution of biological functions. Besides ion channels, other transporters, such as exogenous pore-forming toxins, may present ionic selectivity upon reconstitution in natural and artificial lipid membranes and contribute to the electrochemical gradients. In this context, we utilized electrophysiology approaches to assess the ionic selectivity of the pore-forming toxin lysenin reconstituted in planar bilayer lipid membranes. The membrane voltages were determined from the reversal potentials recorded upon channel exposure to asymmetrical ionic conditions, and the permeability ratios were calculated from the fit with the Goldman–Hodgkin–Katz equation. Our work shows that lysenin channels are ion-selective and the determined permeability coefficients are cation and anion-species dependent. We also exploited the unique property of lysenin channels to transition to a stable sub-conducting state upon exposure to calcium ions and assessed their subsequent change in ionic selectivity. The observed loss of selectivity was implemented in an electrical model describing the dependency of reversal potentials on calcium concentration. In conclusion, our work demonstrates that this pore-forming toxin presents ionic selectivity but this is adjusted by the particular conduction state of the channels. 
    more » « less
  3. Aquaporins (AQPs) are naturally occurring water channel proteins. They can facilitate water molecule translocation across cellular membranes with exceptional selectivity and high permeability that are unmatched in synthetic membrane systems. These unique properties of AQPs have led to their use as functional elements in membranes in recent years. However, the intricate nature of AQPs and concerns regarding their stability and processability have encouraged researchers to develop synthetic channels that mimic the structure and properties of AQPs and other biological water-conducting channels. These channels have been termed artificial water channels. This article reviews current progress and provides a historical perspective as well as an outlook toward developing scalable membranes based on artificial water channels. 
    more » « less
  4. Peptide appended pillar[5]arene (PAP) is an artificial water channel resembling biological water channel proteins, which has shown a significant potential for designing bioinspired water purification systems. Given that PAP channels need to be incorporated at a high density in membrane matrices, it is critical to examine the role of channel–channel and channel–membrane interactions in governing the structural and functional characteristics of channels. To resolve the atomic-scale details of these interactions, we have carried out atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of multiple PAP channels inserted in a lipid or a block-copolymer (BCP) membrane matrix. Classical MD simulations on a sub-microsecond timescale showed clustering of channels only in the lipid membrane, but enhanced sampling MD simulations showed thermodynamically-favorable dimerized states of channels in both lipid and BCP membranes. The dimerized configurations of channels, with an extensive buried surface area, were stabilized via interactions between the aromatic groups in the peptide arms of neighboring channels. The conformational metrics characterizing the orientational and structural changes in channels revealed a higher flexibility in the lipid membrane as opposed to the BCP membrane although hydrogen bonds between the channel and the membrane molecules were not a major contributor to the stability of channels in the BCP membrane. We also found that the channels undergo wetting/dewetting transitions in both lipid and BCP membranes with a marginally higher probability of undergoing a dewetting transition in the BCP membrane. Collectively, these results highlight the role of channel dynamics in governing channel–channel and channel–membrane interfacial interactions, and provide atomic-scale insights needed to design stable and functional biomimetic membranes for efficient separations. 
    more » « less
  5. Water channels are employed by nature to move pure water across cell membranes while selectively rejecting salts. At present, synthetic channels successfully mimic water permeation, yet even the best channels, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene oxide stacks, still fall short of the selectivity target. The present paper analyzes factors that may help to enhance and control salt rejection based on the lessons learned from conventional membranes and CNTs. First, it highlights the importance of raising the ion self-energy (dielectric mechanism), which suggests that having the channels both narrow and surrounded by a low-dielectric environment is key to high selectivity. In contrast, pore charge alone is insufficient, yet it may help to enhance and tune ion rejection, provided that non-mean-field effects enhanced in low-dielectric pores, such as ion association and sorption, especially of H + and OH − ions, are properly understood and addressed in the channel design. Second, the role of concentration polarization (CP) is analyzed, which shows that the CP level is apparently low in isolated channels or microscopically small membranes. However, the geometry of the diffusion field should change and CP should increase drastically in macroscopic membranes incorporating densely spaced channel arrays. If not properly addressed in membrane design, the increased CP level in scaled-up channel-based membranes may significantly compromise the observed selectivity and require that target of selectivity be re-set to an even more challenging value. These points may help guide the future development of high-performance artificial water channels and their scale-up towards utilization in next-generation water purification membranes. 
    more » « less