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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2010 May 15;345(2):248-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2010.01.065. Epub 2010 Jan 28.

Impact of the antimicrobial peptide Novicidin on membrane structure and integrity.

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Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), Department of Molecular Biology, University of Aarhus, Gustav Wieds Vej 10C, DK - 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.


We have studied the impact of an 18-residue cationic antimicrobial peptide Novicidin (Nc) on the structure and integrity of partially anionic lipid membranes using oriented circular dichroism (OCD), quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D), dual polarization interferometry (DPI), calcein dye leakage and fluorescence spectroscopy. OCD consistently showed that Nc is bound in an α-helical, surface bound state over a range of peptide to lipid (P/L) ratios up to ~1:15. Realignment of Nc at higher P/L ratios correlates to loss of membrane integrity as shown by Laurdan fluorescence spectroscopy and by loss of lipid alignment in DPI analysis. Laurdan generalized polarity shows a decrease in water accessibility or mobility in the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interface of the lipid membrane, consistent with rearrangement of lipid packing. QCM-D studies on the interaction of Nc with lipid membranes emphasize the importance of including the dissipation factor in data analysis, revealing formation of a highly hydrated film after exposure to ≥3 μM Nc. Our findings suggest a carpet mechanism of membrane disruption in which peptide binding first induces leakage at a critical surface concentration, probably through formation of transient pores or transient disruption of the membrane integrity, followed by more extensive membrane disintegration at higher P/L ratios.

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