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Biochemistry. 1992 Aug 18;31(32):7289-93.

Conformation of magainin-2 and related peptides in aqueous solution and membrane environments probed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

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  • 1Institute for Biodiagnostics, National Research Council of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba.


The conformational properties of the magainin family of antimicrobial peptides in aqueous solution and in model membranes have been probed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The magainins were found to be structureless in aqueous solution at neutral pD, confirming other studies by Raman and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Increasing the pD to 10 induced the formation of predominantly alpha-helical secondary structures, with some beta-sheet. In the presence of negatively charged liposomes (dimyristoylphosphatidylglycerol), the peptides folded into alpha-helical secondary structures with some beta-sheet structure evident. On the other hand, in the presence of zwitterionic phospholipids (dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine), the spectra were identical to those in aqueous solution. For some magainins, the interaction with charged liposomes was modulated by the presence of cholesterol; cholesterol was found to promote the formation of beta-sheet structures, as evidenced by the appearance of amide I bands at 1614 and 1637 cm-1. Differences in structure were observed between the amidated and nonamidated forms of some peptides. From the data, a mechanism of antimicrobial action of the magainin family of peptides is proposed.

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