Salt-Excluding Artificial Water Channels Exhibiting Enhanced Dipolar Water and Proton Translocation

Erol Licsandru, Istvan Kocsis, Yue Xiao Shen, Samuel Murail, Yves Marie Legrand, Arie Van Der Lee, Daniel Tsai, Marc Baaden, Manish Kumar, Mihail Barboiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Aquaporins (AQPs) are biological water channels known for fast water transport (∼108-109 molecules/s/channel) with ion exclusion. Few synthetic channels have been designed to mimic this high water permeability, and none reject ions at a significant level. Selective water translocation has previously been shown to depend on water-wires spanning the AQP pore that reverse their orientation, combined with correlated channel motions. No quantitative correlation between the dipolar orientation of the water-wires and their effects on water and proton translocation has been reported. Here, we use complementary X-ray structural data, bilayer transport experiments, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to gain key insights and quantify transport. We report artificial imidazole-quartet water channels with 2.6 Å pores, similar to AQP channels, that encapsulate oriented dipolar water-wires in a confined chiral conduit. These channels are able to transport ∼106 water molecules/s, which is within 2 orders of magnitude of AQPs' rates, and reject all ions except protons. The proton conductance is high (∼5 H+/s/channel) and approximately half that of the M2 proton channel at neutral pH. Chirality is a key feature influencing channel efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5403-5409
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 27 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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