Yesterday, I attended an interesting talk by Ian Derrington, who is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of professor Jens Gundlach at the University of Washington (UW). For those who do not know, Gundlach lab is the first to identify and use MspA as an efficient pore molecule for nanopore sequencing, and they published several key papers related to development of the technology over the years. In my understanding, Illumina’s licensing of MspA-related patents from UW is the basis of their IP lawsuit against Oxford Nanopore.
I was planning to write about Ian’s talk, but found an excellent video from three years back to save me from the trouble. The talk in the youtube was delivered by Jens Gundlach himself, and so I am including a somewhat unrelated video of Ian and leaving our readers to do the hard part of combining the two in their imagination :)
Above video of Gundlach is three years old, but the lab has been very active in exploring new frontiers using their technology. Ian’s talk included plenty of materials about their recent (and very interesting) research. Those looking for more information may start from their latest paper, where they used nanopore as a single-molecule ‘tweezer’ !
Single-molecule picometer resolution nanopore tweezers (SPRNT) is a new tool for analyzing the motion of nucleic acids through molecular motors. With SPRNT, individual enzymatic motions along DNA as small as 40 pm can be resolved on sub-millisecond time scales. Additionally, SPRNT reveals an enzymes exact location with respect to a DNA strands nucleotide sequence, enabling identification of sequence-specific behaviors. SPRNT is enabled by a mutant version of the biological nanopore formed by Mycobacterium smegmatis porin A (MspA). SPRNT is strongly rooted in nanopore sequencing and therefore requires a solid understanding of basic principles of nanopore sequencing. Furthermore, SPRNT shares tools developed for nanopore sequencing and extends them to analysis of single-molecule kinetics. As such, this review begins with a brief history of our work developing the nanopore MspA for nanopore sequencing. We then describe the underlying principles of SPRNT, how it works in detail, and propose some potential future uses. We close with a comparison of SPRNT to other techniques and we present the methods that will enable others to use SPRNT.