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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Dec 15;1462(1-2):89-108.

Lipid-induced conformation and lipid-binding properties of cytolytic and antimicrobial peptides: determination and biological specificity.

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Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, 3550 General Atomics Court, San Diego, CA 92121, USA.


While antimicrobial and cytolytic peptides exert their effects on cells largely by interacting with the lipid bilayers of their membranes, the influence of the cell membrane lipid composition on the specificity of these peptides towards a given organism is not yet understood. The lack of experimental model systems that mimic the complexity of natural cell membranes has hampered efforts to establish a direct correlation between the induced conformation of these peptides upon binding to cell membranes and their biological specificities. Nevertheless, studies using model membranes reconstituted from lipids and a few membrane-associated proteins, combined with spectroscopic techniques (i.e. circular dichroism, fluorescence spectroscopy, Fourier transform infra red spectroscopy, etc.), have provided information on specific structure-function relationships of peptide-membrane interactions at the molecular level. Reversed phase-high performance chromatography (RP-HPLC) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) are emerging techniques for the study of the dynamics of the interactions between cytolytic and antimicrobial peptides and lipid surfaces. Thus, the immobilization of lipid moieties onto RP-HPLC sorbent now allows the investigation of peptide conformational transition upon interaction with membrane surfaces, while SPR allows the observation of the time course of peptide binding to membrane surfaces. Such studies have clearly demonstrated the complexity of peptide-membrane interactions in terms of the mutual changes in peptide binding, conformation, orientation, and lipid organization, and have, to a certain extent, allowed correlations to be drawn between peptide conformational properties and lytic activity.

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