Send to

Choose Destination
Biochemistry. 2002 Jul 30;41(30):9508-15.

Mutational analysis of the role of tryptophan residues in an antimicrobial peptide.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Antimicrobial peptides belonging to the pediocin-like family of bacteriocins (class IIa bacteriocins) produced by lactic acid bacteria contain several tryptophan residues that are highly conserved. Since tryptophan residues in membrane proteins are often positioned in the membrane-water interface, we hypothesized that Trp residues in bacteriocins could be important determinants of the structure of membrane-bound peptides and of anti-microbial activity. To test this hypothesis, the effects of mutating each of the 3 tryptophan residues (Trp18, Trp33, and Trp41) in the 43-residue pediocin-like bacteriocin sakacin P were studied. Trp18 and Trp33 are located at each end of an amphihilic alpha-helix, whereas Trp41 is near the end of an unstructured C-terminal tail. Replacement of Trp33 with the hydrophobic residues Leu and Phe had marginal effects on activity, whereas replacement with the more polar Tyr and Arg reduced activity 10-20 and 500-1000 times, respectively, indicating that Trp33 and the C-terminal part of the helix interact with the hydrophobic core of the membrane. Any mutation of Trp18 and Trp41 reduced activity, indicating that these two residues play unique roles. Substitutions with other aromatic residues were the least deleterious, indicating that both Trp18 and Trp41 interact with the membrane-water interface. The suggested locations of the three Trp residues are compatible with a structural model in which the helix and the C-terminal tail form a hairpin-like structure, bringing Trp18 and Trp41 close to each other in the interface, and placing Trp33 in the hydrophobic core of the membrane. Indeed, the deleterious effect of the W18L and W41L mutations could be overcome by stabilizing the hairpin-like structure by introduction of a disulfide bridge between residues 24 and 44. These results provide a basis for a refined structural model of pediocin-like bacteriocins and highlight the unique role that tryptophan residues can play in membrane-interacting peptides.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center