Many signaling mechanisms in living cells occur at biological boundaries via cell surface receptors and membrane proteins embedded in lipid bilayers. The coordination of actions of sensory and motor neurons in the nervous system represents one example of many that heavily depends on lipid membrane bound receptor mediated signaling. As a result, chemical and biological toxins that disrupt these neural signals can have severe physiological effects, including paralysis and death. Botulinum neurotoxin Type A (BoNT/A) is a proteolytic toxin that inserts through vesicle membranes and cleaves membrane receptors involved with synaptic acetylcholine uptake and nervous system signal conduction.
In this work, we investigate the use of a Bioinspired liquid-supported interface bilayer for studying the insertion of BoNT/A toxin molecules into synthetic lipid bilayers. DPhPC lipid bilayers are formed using the regulated attachment method (RAM), as developed by Sarles and Leo, and we perform current measurements on membranes exposed to BoNT/A toxin to characterize activity of toxin interacting with the synthetic bilayer. Control tests without toxin present are also presented. The results of these tests show an increase in the magnitude of current through the bilayer when the toxin is included. We interpret these initial results to mean that incorporation of BoNT/A toxin at a high concentration in an interface bilayer increases the permeability of the membrane as a result of toxin molecules spanning the thickness of the bilayer.