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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2011 Jul;68(13):2281-301. doi: 10.1007/s00018-011-0719-1. Epub 2011 May 17.

Fluorescence spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations in studies on the mechanism of membrane destabilization by antimicrobial peptides.

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Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Chimiche, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133, Rome, Italy.


Since their initial discovery, 30 years ago, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been intensely investigated as a possible solution to the increasing problem of drug-resistant bacteria. The interaction of antimicrobial peptides with the cellular membrane of bacteria is the key step of their mechanism of action. Fluorescence spectroscopy can provide several structural details on peptide-membrane systems, such as partition free energy, aggregation state, peptide position and orientation in the bilayer, and the effects of the peptides on the membrane order. However, these "low-resolution" structural data are hardly sufficient to define the structural requirements for the pore formation process. Molecular dynamics simulations, on the other hand, provide atomic-level information on the structure and dynamics of the peptide-membrane system, but they need to be validated experimentally. In this review we summarize the information that can be obtained by both approaches, highlighting their versatility and complementarity, suggesting that their synergistic application could lead to a new level of insight into the mechanism of membrane destabilization by AMPs.

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