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Biophys J. 2008 Jun;94(12):4688-99. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.107.123620. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Interaction of LL-37 with model membrane systems of different complexity: influence of the lipid matrix.

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Institute of Biophysics and Nanosystems Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Graz, Austria.


As the main difference between bacterial and mammalian cell membranes is their net charge, the focal point of consideration in many model membrane experiments with antimicrobial peptides is lipid headgroup charge. We studied the interaction of the human multifunctional peptide LL-37 with single phospholipid monolayers, bilayers, and bilayers composed of binary mixtures of the four phospholipid species predominantly used in model membrane experiments (phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylglycerol, and phosphatidylserine). We found that 1), the effects on single lipid monolayers are not comparable to those on the corresponding bilayers; 2), there are four different effects of LL-37 on bilayers of the four lipids; 3), the preference of LL-37 for the specific lipids is roughly inversely related to chain packing density; and 4), in the binary lipid mixtures, one lipid-and not necessarily the charged one--generally governs the mode of lipid/peptide interaction. Thus, our results show that lipid net charge is not the decisive factor determining the membrane-perturbing mechanism of LL-37, but only one of several parameters, among them packing density, the ability to form intermolecular H-bonds, and lipid molecular shape, which emphasizes how profoundly the choice of the model system can influence the outcome of a study of lipid/peptide interaction.

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