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Single-Molecule Detection of Nitrogen Mustards by Covalent Reaction within a Protein Nanopore

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journal contribution
posted on 28.05.2008, 00:00 by Hai-Chen Wu, Hagan Bayley
Mustards, including sulfur mustards and nitrogen mustards, form a class of cytotoxic, vesicant chemical warfare agents. Mustards have also been used to treat cancer and played a vital role in the development of chemotherapy. Additionally, because of their destructive properties, ease of synthesis, and the lack of effective antidotes, mustards are unquestionably terrorist threats. Therefore, quick and convenient detection of mustards is a critical issue. In the present study, we achieved detection of various mustards on the basis of their chemical reactivity by using engineered α-hemolysin (αHL) protein pores as sensor elements. We describe four classes of reactions for detecting mustards. These reactions occur between mustards and thiol groups contributed by cysteine side-chains within the lumen of the αHL pore or on an internal molecular adapter. The approach is quick and straightforward. It can confirm the existence of mustards in as little as 10 min at 50 µM or lower.