- Litvinchuk, S.; Tanaka, H.; Miyatake, T.; Pasini, D.; Tanaka, T.; Bollot, G.; Mareda, J.; Matile, S. “Synthetic Pores with Reactive Signal Amplifiers as Artificial Tongues” Nat. Mater. 2007, 6, 576-580
The sensation of taste is mediated by activation or deactivation of transmembrane pores. Artificial stimulus-responsive pores are enormously appealing as sensor components because changes in their activity are readily detectable in many different ways. However, the detection of multiple components in complex matrices (such as foods) with one pore sensor has so far remained elusive because the specificity necessary for sensing a target compound in complex mixtures is incompatible with the broad applicability needed for the detection of multiple components. Here, we present synthetic pores that, like our tongues, can sense flavours in food and in addition make them visibly detectable. Differential sensing and pattern recognition are solutions based on empirical and biomimetic approaches. They have been explored with synthetic receptor arrays and electronic tongues. In contrast, our approach is non-empirical as it exploits reactive amplifiers that covalently capture elusive analytes after enzymatic signal generation and drag them into synthetic pores for blockage. Reactive amplification proved to be highly sensitive and adaptable to various analytes and pores. Moreover, it can be combined with reactive filtration for minimizing interference. The system was tested on real food samples for detection of sucrose, lactose, lactate, acetate, citrate and glutamate to demonstrate the feasibility of these synthetic pores as universal sensors.