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Methacrylate Polymer Scaffolding Enhances the Stability of Suspended Lipid Bilayers for Ion Channel Recordings and Biosensor Development

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journal contribution
posted on 12.10.2015, 00:00 by Leonard K. Bright, Christopher A. Baker, Robert Bränström, S. Scott Saavedra, Craig A. Aspinwall
Black lipid membranes (BLMs) provide a synthetic environment that facilitates measurement of ion channel activity in diverse analytical platforms. The limited electrical, mechanical and temporal stabilities of BLMs pose a significant challenge to development of highly stable measurement platforms. Here, ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA) and butyl methacrylate (BMA) were partitioned into BLMs and photopolymerized to create a cross-linked polymer scaffold in the bilayer lamella that dramatically improved BLM stability. The commercially available methacrylate monomers provide a simple, low cost, and broadly accessible approach for preparing highly stabilized BLMs useful for ion channel-functionalized analytical platforms. When prepared on silane-modified glass microapertures, the resulting polymer scaffold-stabilized (PSS)-BLMs exhibited significantly improved lifetimes of 23 ± 9 to 40 ± 14 h and >10-fold increase in mechanical stability, with breakdown potentials >2000 mV attainable, depending on surface modification and polymer cross-link density. Additionally, the polymer scaffold exerted minimal perturbation to membrane electrical integrity as indicated by mean conductance measurements. When gramicidin A and α-hemolysin were reconstituted into PSS-BLMs, the ion channels retained function comparable to conventional BLMs. This approach is a key advance in the formation of stabilized BLMs and should be amenable to a wide range of receptor and ion channel functionalized platforms.