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Biophys J. 2010 Jun 2;98(11):2564-73. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.03.002.

Amphipathic helical cationic antimicrobial peptides promote rapid formation of crystalline states in the presence of phosphatidylglycerol: lipid clustering in anionic membranes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Five AHCAPs exhibiting a broad-spectrum of antimicrobial activity, were examined with regard to their action in lipid mixtures with two anionic lipids, PG and CL. We find that all of the peptides studied were capable of promoting the formation of crystalline phases of DMPG in mixtures of DMPG and CL, without prior incubation at low temperatures. This property is indicative of the ability of these peptides to cluster CL away from DMPG. In contrast, the well studied antimicrobial cationic peptide magainin 2 does not cluster anionic lipids. We ascribe the lower anionic lipid clustering ability of magainin to its low density of positive charges compared with the five other AHCAPs used in this work. The peptide MSI-1254 was particularly potent in segregating these two anionic lipids. Consequently, clusters enriched in DMPG appear in a lipid mixture with CL. These can rapidly form higher temperature crystalline phases because of the increased permeability of the bilayer caused by the AHCAPs. The polyaminoacids, poly-L-Lysine and poly-l-arginine are also very effective in causing this segregation. Thus, the clustering of anionic lipids by AHCAPs is not confined only to mixtures of anionic with zwitterionic lipids, but it extends to mixtures containing different anionic headgroups. The resulting effects, however, have different consequences to the biological activity. This finding broadens the scope for which an AHCAP agent will cluster lipids in a membrane.

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