Research Fellows Directory
Dr Min Zhang
University of Manchester
Transmembrane transport via self-assembled systems is one essential topic in supermolecular chemistry for the insertion of a channel into a bilayer and
the subsequent transmembrane transport is a typical dynamic process within a complicated self-assembled system. The study of artificial channels is not only aimed at gaining insight into the mechanism of natural channels but also can potentially lead to new therapeutic and functional materials. Currently our research interest lies in the design and construction of new artificial unimolecular transmembrane channels from pillararenes and gramicidin A and investigating their antimicrobial activities. Pillararenes have stable conformation, tunable length and diameter by attachment of different segments, which is definitely suitable for construction of unimolecular transmembrane channels. Based on pillararenes, we have constructed a series of novel unimolecular channels. By using these channels, we can selectively transport ions and molecules in the bilayer. Recently by attaching Trp-incorporated peptides to the pillararene backbone we have achieved the distinguishing of the bilayer membrane of Gram-positive bacterial from that of mammalian erythrocytes. Thus the channel displays high antimicrobial activity to the Gram-positive bacteria and very low hemolytic toxicity. Gramicidin A is a native ion channel which can transport monovalent cations by forming hydrogen bonded head-to-head dimers in membranes. Based on the structure of gramicidin A, we have designed asymmetric gramicidin A-like channels which bear one to three NH3+ groups at the N-end and one to three CO2- groups at the C-end. The channels can insert into a lipid bilayer in an asymmetric manner and directionally transport potassium across the lipid bilayer. This rectifying character may be used in the construction of novel molecular electronic devices.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)