The Role of Structural Order in the Mechanism of Charge Transport across Tunnel Junctions with Various Iron-Storing Proteins

Nipun Kumar Gupta, Naofumi Okamoto, Senthil Kumar Karuppannan, Rupali Reddy Pasula, Zhang Ziyu, Dong Chen Qi, Sierin Lim, Masakazu Nakamura, Christian A. Nijhuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In biomolecular electronics, the role of structural order in charge transport (CT) is poorly understood. It has been reported that the metal oxide cores of protein cages (e.g., iron oxide and ferrihydrite nanoparticles (NPs) present in ferritin and E2-LFtn, which is E2 protein engineered with an iron-binding sequence) play an important role in the mechanism of CT. At the same time, the NP core also plays a major role in the structural integrity of the proteins. This paper describes the role of structural order in CT across tunnel junctions by comparing three iron-storing proteins. They are (1) DNA binding protein from starved cells (Dps, diameter (∅) = 9 nm); (2) engineered archaeal ferritin (AfFtn-AA, ∅ = 12 nm); and (3) engineered E2 of pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme complex (E2-LFtn, ∅ = 25 nm). Both holo-Dps and apo-Dps proteins undergo CT by coherent tunneling because their globular architecture and relative structural stability provide a coherent conduction pathway. In contrast, apo-AfFtn-AA forms a disordered structure across which charges have to tunnel incoherently, but holo-AfFtn-AA retains its globular structure and supports coherent tunneling. The large E2-LFtn always forms disordered structures across which charges incoherently tunnel regardless of the presence of the NP core. These findings highlight the importance of structural order in the mechanism of CT across biomolecular tunnel junctions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2203338
JournalSmall
Volume18
Issue number42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • biomolecular electronics
  • charge transport
  • EGaIn
  • structural order
  • tunneling
  • UT-Hybrid-D

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