Carbon nanotube porins (CNTPs), short pieces of carbon nanotubes capable of self-inserting into a lipid bilayer, represent a simplified model of biological membrane channels. We have used high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) and all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the behavior of CNTPs in a mixed lipid membrane consisting of DOPC lipid with a variable percentage of DMPC lipid added to it. HS-AFM data reveal that the CNTPs undergo diffusive motion in the bilayer plane. Motion trajectories extracted from the HS-AFM movies indicate that CNTPs exhibit diffusion coefficient values broadly similar to values reported for membrane proteins in supported lipid bilayers. The data also indicate that increasing the percentage of DMPC leads to a marked slowing of CNTP diffusion. MD simulations reveal a CNTP-lipid assembly that diffuses in the membrane and show trends that are consistent with the experimental observations.
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