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Biochimie. 2009 Jun;91(6):734-43.

Membrane order perturbation in the presence of antimicrobial peptides by (2)H solid-state NMR spectroscopy.

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  • 1Universit√© de Strasbourg/CNRS, UMR, Institut de Chimie, France.


The (2)H solid-state NMR spectra of deuterated fatty acyl chains provide direct access to the order of the hydrophobic membrane interior. From the deuterium order parameter profiles of perdeuterated fatty acyl chains the membrane hydrophobic thickness can be calculated. Here we show data obtained from POPC, POPE and mixed POPE/POPG bilayers, representative of bacterial membranes, in the presence of cholesterol or ergosterol and antimicrobial peptaibols. Whereas sterols have a strong ordering effect also on these membranes, the peptides exhibit neutral or disordering effects. By comparing with data from the literature it becomes obvious that cationic amphipathic peptides that probably reside within the interface of phospholipid membranes tend to strongly disorder the packing of the fatty acyl chains, an effect that has been correlated to antimicrobial and DNA transfection activities. In contrast transmembrane sequences or hydrophobic peptides that probably partition deeply into the membrane tend to have only modest disordering activities. The (2)H solid-state NMR approach has also been used to monitor the lateral separation of domains rich in anionic phospholipids in the presence of cationic peptides and has thereby provided important insights into their mechanisms of action.

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