Nature Communications | VOL. 13

Measuring anion binding at biomembrane interfaces

Publication Date Aug 8, 2022


The quantification of anion binding by molecular receptors within lipid bilayers remains challenging. Here we measure\xa0anion binding in lipid bilayers by creating a fluorescent macrocycle featuring a strong sulfate affinity. We find the determinants of anion binding in lipid bilayers to be different from those expected that govern anion binding in solution. Charge-dense anions H2PO4\u2013 and Cl\u2013 that prevail in dimethyl sulfoxide fail to bind to the macrocycle in lipids. In stark contrast, ClO4\u2013 and I\u2013 that hardly bind in dimethyl sulfoxide show surprisingly significant affinities for the macrocycle in lipids. We reveal a lipid bilayer anion binding principle that depends on anion polarisability and bilayer penetration depth of complexes leading to unexpected advantages of charge-diffuse anions. These insights enhance our understanding of how biological systems select anions and guide the design of functional molecular systems operating at biomembrane interfaces.


Anion Binding Lipid Bilayers Molecular Receptors Dimethyl Sulfoxide Strong Affinity Design Of Systems Functional Molecular Systems Anions H2PO4 Fluorescent Macrocycle Unexpected Advantages

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