The self-assembled bilayer lipid membrane (BLM) is the basic component of the cell membrane. The reconstitution of ion channel proteins in artificially formed BLMs represents a well-defined system for the functional analysis of ion channels and screening the effects of drugs that act on them. However, because BLMs are unstable, this limits the experimental throughput of BLM reconstitution systems. Here we report on the formation of mechanically stable solvent-free BLMs in microfabricated apertures with defined nano- and micro-tapered edge structures. The role of such nano- and micro-tapered structures on the stability of the BLMs was also investigated. Finally, this BLM system was combined with a cell-free synthesized human ether-a-go-go-related gene channel, a cardiac potassium channel whose relation to arrhythmic side effects following drug treatment is well recognized. Such stable BLMs as these, when combined with a cell-free system, represent a potential platform for screening the effects of drugs that act on various ion-channel genotypes.
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