Imaging Proton Transport in Giant Vesicles through Cyclic Peptide–Polymer Conjugate Nanotube Transmembrane Ion Channels

Jason G. Binfield, Johannes C. Brendel, Neil R. Cameron, Ahmed M. Eissa, Sébastien Perrier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Since their discovery in 1993, interest in various aspects of cyclic peptides (CPs) has expanded rapidly. Of particular note is their potential to form artificial ion channels in lipid membranes, an attractive characteristic in supramolecular chemistry and biological research. The design and synthesis of cyclic peptide–polymer conjugates (CPPCs) that can self-assemble within lipid bilayers into nanotubes, mimicking naturally occurring membrane channels and pores, has been reported. However, methods that allow direct detection of the transport process with high levels of certainty are still lacking. This work focuses on the development of a simple but reliable approach to verify and quantify proton transport across a bilayer membrane. Giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) are created via the electroformation method and CPPCs are incorporated in GUV membranes at varying concentrations (0–10%). Confocal fluorescence microscopy is used to demonstrate full inclusion of fluorescein-labeled CPPCs in the GUV membranes. The pH-sensitive dye carboxyfluorescein is encapsulated within the water pool of the GUVs and used as an indicator of proton transport. This assay is versatile and can be exploited on other existing proton transporter systems, providing a consistent tool to compare their performances. It should also aid the development of novel antineoplastics and drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1700831
Number of pages6
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • artificial ion channels
  • biological membranes
  • cyclic peptide–polymer conjugates
  • giant unilamellar vesicles
  • nanotubes
  • proton transport
  • supramolecular chemistry

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