American Chemical Society
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Membrane Proteins in Action Monitored by pH-Responsive Liquid Crystal Biosensors

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posted on 2024-06-06, 09:14 authored by Peng Bao, Kyle Phillips, Rasmita Raval
Liquid crystal (LC) biosensors have received significant attention for their potential applications for point-of-care devices due to their sensitivity, low cost, and easy read-out. They have been employed to detect a wide range of important biological molecules. However, detecting the function of membrane proteins has been extremely challenging due to the difficulty of integrating membrane proteins, lipid membranes, and LCs into one system. In this study, we addressed this challenge by monitoring the proton-pumping function of bacteriorhodopsin (bR) using a pH-sensitive LC thin film biosensor. To achieve this, we deposited purple membranes (PMs) containing a 2D crystal form of bRs onto an LC-aqueous interface. Under light, the PM patches changed the local pH at the LC-aqueous interface, causing a color change in the LC thin film that is observable through a polarizing microscope with crossed polarizers. These findings open up new opportunities to study the biofunctions of membrane proteins and their induced local environmental changes in a solution using LC biosensors.