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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 21;276(38):35714-22. Epub 2001 Jul 25.

Interaction of cationic antimicrobial peptides with model membranes.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of British Columbia, 300-6174 University Boulevard, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.


A series of natural and synthetic cationic antimicrobial peptides from various structural classes, including alpha-helical, beta-sheet, extended, and cyclic, were examined for their ability to interact with model membranes, assessing penetration of phospholipid monolayers and induction of lipid flip-flop, membrane leakiness, and peptide translocation across the bilayer of large unilamellar liposomes, at a range of peptide/lipid ratios. All peptides were able to penetrate into monolayers made with negatively charged phospholipids, but only two interacted weakly with neutral lipids. Peptide-mediated lipid flip-flop generally occurred at peptide concentrations that were 3- to 5-fold lower than those causing leakage of calcein across the membrane, regardless of peptide structure. With the exception of two alpha-helical peptides V681(n) and V25(p,) the extent of peptide-induced calcein release from large unilamellar liposomes was generally low at peptide/lipid molar ratios below 1:50. Peptide translocation across bilayers was found to be higher for the beta-sheet peptide polyphemusin, intermediate for alpha-helical peptides, and low for extended peptides. Overall, whereas all studied cationic antimicrobial peptides interacted with membranes, they were quite heterogeneous in their impact on these membranes.

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