Controlled movement of ssDNA conjugated peptide through Mycobacterium smegmatis porin A (MspA) nanopore by a helicase motor for peptide sequencing application

ABSTRACT: The lack of an efficient, low-cost sequencing method has long been a significant bottleneck in protein research and applications. In recent years, the nanopore platform has emerged as a fast and inexpensive method for single-molecule nucleic acid sequencing, but attempts to apply it to protein/peptide sequencing have resulted in limited success. Here we report a strategy to control peptide translocation through the MspA nanopore, which could serve as the first step toward strand peptide sequencing. By conjugating the target peptide to a helicase-regulated handle-ssDNA, we achieved a read length of up to 17 amino acids (aa) and demonstrated the feasibility of distinguishing between amino acid residues of different charges or between different phosphorylation sites. Further improvement of resolution may require engineering MspA-M2 to reduce its constriction zone’s size and stretch the target peptide inside the nanopore to minimize random thermal motion. We believe that our method in this study can significantly accelerate the development and commercialization of nanopore-based peptide sequencing technologies.