Send to

Choose Destination
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2001 Oct 1;1514(2):253-60.

'Detergent-like' permeabilization of anionic lipid vesicles by melittin.

Author information

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, 364-D Medical Sciences 1, Irvine, CA 92697-4560, USA.


Melittin (MLT), the 26-residue toxic peptide from the European honeybee Apis mellifera, is widely used for studying the principles of membrane permeabilization by antimicrobial and other host-defense peptides. A striking property of MLT is that its ability to permeabilize zwitterionic phospholipid vesicles is dramatically reduced upon the addition of anionic lipids. Because the mechanism of permeabilization may be fundamentally different for the two types of lipids, we examined MLT-induced release of entrapped fluorescent dextran markers of two different molecular masses (4 and 50 kDa) from anionic palmitoyloleoylphosphatidylglycerol (POPG) vesicles. Unlike release from palmitoyloleoylphosphatidylcholine (POPC) vesicles, which is highly selective for the 4 kDa marker, implying release through pores of about 25 A diameter [Ladokhin et al., Biophys. J. 72 (1997) 1762], release from POPG vesicles was found to be non-selective, i.e., 'detergent-like'. Oriented circular dichroism measurements of MLT in oriented POPG and POPC multilayers disclosed that alpha-helical MLT can be induced to adopt a transbilayer orientation in POPC multilayers, but not in POPG multilayers. The apparent inhibition of MLT permeabilization by anionic membranes may thus be due to suppression of translocation ability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center