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Biophys J. 2007 Jul 1;93(1):154-63. Epub 2007 Apr 13.

The lipid dependence of melittin action investigated by dual-color fluorescence burst analysis.

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Biochemistry Department, Groningen Biomolecular Science and Biotechnology Institute & Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Dual-color fluorescence-burst analysis was used to study melittin-induced leakage of macromolecules from liposomes of various lipid compositions. To perform dual-color fluorescence-burst analysis, fluorescently labeled size-marker molecules were encapsulated into liposomes, labeled with a second lipid-attached fluorophore. By correlating the fluorescence bursts, resulting from the liposomes diffusing through the detection volume of a dual-color confocal microscope, the distribution of size-marker molecules over the liposomes was determined. It was found that melittin causes leakage via two different mechanisms: 1), For liposomes composed of neutral bilayer-forming lipids, low melittin concentrations induced pore formation with the pore size depending on the melittin concentration. 2), For liposomes containing anionic and/or nonbilayer forming lipids, melittin induced fusion or aggregation of liposomes accompanied by a-specific leakage. Experiments with liposomes prepared from Escherichia coli lipid extracts and intact cells of Lactococcus lactis indicate that both mechanisms are physiologically relevant.

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