Single-molecule protein sequencing

Proteins are major building blocks of life. The protein content of a cell and an organism provides key information for the understanding of biological processes and disease. Despite the importance of protein analysis, only a handful of techniques are available to determine protein sequences, and these methods face limitations, for example, requiring a sizable amount of sample. Single-molecule techniques would revolutionize proteomics research, providing ultimate sensitivity for the detection of low-abundance proteins and the realization of single-cell proteomics. In recent years, novel single-molecule protein sequencing schemes that use fluorescence, tunneling currents and nanopores have been proposed. Here, we present a review of these approaches, together with the first experimental efforts towards their realization. They discuss their advantages and drawbacks, and present our perspective on the development of single-molecule protein sequencing techniques.

Above – Translocation of peptides and unfolded proteins through nanopores.

Nature Nanotechnology – Paving the way to single-molecule protein sequencing

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