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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 18, 2023
  2. The application of solid-state (SS) nanopore devices to single-molecule nucleic acid sequencing has been challenging. Thus, the early successes in applying SS nanopore devices to the more difficult class of biopolymer, glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), have been surprising, motivating us to examine the potential use of an SS nanopore to analyze synthetic heparan sulfate GAG chains of controlled composition and sequence prepared through a promising, recently developed chemoenzymatic route. A minimal representation of the nanopore data, using only signal magnitude and duration, revealed, by eye and image recognition algorithms, clear differences between the signals generated by four synthetic GAGs. By subsequent machine learning, it was possible to determine disaccharide and even monosaccharide composition of these four synthetic GAGs using as few as 500 events, corresponding to a zeptomole of sample. These data suggest that ultrasensitive GAG analysis may be possible using SS nanopore detection and well-characterized molecular training sets.

  3. Biomolecular hydration is fundamental to biological functions. Using phase-resolved chiral sum-frequency generation spectroscopy (SFG), we probe molecular architectures and interactions of water molecules around a self-assembling antiparallel β-sheet protein. We find that the phase of the chiroptical response from the O-H stretching vibrational modes of water flips with the absolute chirality of the (l-) or (d-) antiparallel β-sheet. Therefore, we can conclude that the (d-) antiparallel β-sheet organizes water solvent into a chiral supermolecular structure with opposite handedness relative to that of the (l-) antiparallel β-sheet. We use molecular dynamics to characterize the chiral water superstructure at atomic resolution. The results show that the macroscopic chirality of antiparallel β-sheets breaks the symmetry of assemblies of surrounding water molecules. We also calculate the chiral SFG response of water surrounding (l-) and (d-) LK7β to confirm the presence of chiral water structures. Our results offer a different perspective as well as introduce experimental and computational methodologies for elucidating hydration of biomacromolecules. The findings imply potentially important but largely unexplored roles of water solvent in chiral selectivity of biomolecular interactions and the molecular origins of homochirality in the biological world.