Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research Chemical Biology Research

Protein Sequencing


The large-scale study of the proteins produced by an organism, proteomics, is crucial to understand cellular processes underlining diseases and to identify specific indicators linked to diseases in a biological sample, also known as biomarkers.  

Perhaps surprisingly, it is still not clear which of the ~20,000 human genes are translated into proteins. Therefore, major efforts are underway to identify these genes, including the Human Proteome Project and the Human Protein Atlas project and ProteomeXchange consortium.

In collaboration with researchers from Delft and Wageningen, we are developing a technology based on nanopores to sequence individual proteins. This technology will allow the fast and low-cost analysis of proteins, including low abundance proteins and their post-translational modification

FraC nanopores for protein sequencing


Biological nanopore–based protein sequencing and recognition is challenging due to the folded structure or non-uniform charge of peptides. Here the authors show that engineered FraC nanopores can overcome these problems and recognize biomarkers in the form of oligopeptides, polypeptides and folded proteins.


Restrepo-Pérez L, Huang G, Bohländer PR, Worp N, Eelkema R, Maglia G, Joo C, Dekker C. ACS Nano. Resolving Chemical Modifications to a Single Amino Acid within a Peptide Using a Biological Nanopore. 2019. doi:10.1021/acsnano.9b05156

Mutter N, Volarić J, Szymanski W, Feringa B, Maglia, G. Reversible photo-controlled nanopore assembly. JACS. (2019)

Willems K, Ruić D, Biesemans A, Galenkamp N, Van Dorpe, P, Maglia G. Engineering and Modeling the Electrophoretic Trapping of a Single Protein Inside a Nanopore. ACS Nano. (2019)

Huang G,  Voet A, and Maglia G. FraC Nanopores with Adjustable Diameter Identify the Mass of Opposite-Charge Peptides with 44 Dalton Resolution. Nature Commun. (2019) Feb 19. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08761-6

Zhao S, Restrepo-Pérez L, Soskine M, Maglia G, Joo C, Dekker C, and Aksimentiev A. ACS Nano . Electro-Mechanical Conductance Modulation of a Nanopore Using a Removable Gate. (2019) Feb 4. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b09266

Galenkamp N.S, Soskine M, Wloka C,, and Maglia G. Direct electrical quantification of glucose and asparagine from bodily fluids using nanopores. Nature Commun.  (2018) Oct 5. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01006-4

Huang G, Willems K, Soskine M, Wloka C, and Maglia G. Electro-Osmotic Capture and Ionic Discrimination of Peptide and Protein Biomarkers with FraC Nanopores. Nature Commun. (2017) doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01006-4

In 2008 all four DNA base could be distinguished with engineered pores. To date, three nanopores have been described in the literature to discriminate nucleobases (αHL,  MspA, and FraC). In 2008 and then in 2010 it was shown that DNA polymerase enzymes are able to ratchet DNA through the nanopore base-by-base.

Building on this work, a commercial device that sequences DNA, the Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION, is being tested in clinics. The device has a low capital cost, is by far the most portable DNA sequencer available, and can produce data in real-time. Because it can perform long reads, it has numerous prospective applications including the ability of improving genome sequence assemblies and resolution of repeat-rich regions. Arrays of thousands of nanopores allow high-throughput analysis. However, owing to the multiple occupancy of nucleobases inside the nanopore used, the raw output in the MinION is generated not by individual bases but by 5-nucleotide stretches known as k-mers.

Last modified:12 December 2019 2.32 p.m.