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Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2014 Jan 23;7(2):136-68. doi: 10.3390/ph7020136.

Mercury-supported biomimetic membranes for the investigation of antimicrobial peptides.

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1
Department of Chemistry "Ugo Schiff", Florence University, Via della Lastruccia 3, Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze) 50019, Italy. lucia.becucci@unifi.it.
2
Retired professor from Florence University, Firenze 50121, Italy. rolando.guidelli@libero.it.

Abstract

Tethered bilayer lipid membranes (tBLMs) consist of a lipid bilayer interposed between an aqueous solution and a hydrophilic "spacer" anchored to a gold or mercury electrode. There is great potential for application of these biomimetic membranes for the elucidation of structure-function relationships of membrane peptides and proteins. A drawback in the use of mercury-supported tBLMs with respect to gold-supported ones is represented by the difficulty in applying surface sensitive, spectroscopic and scanning probe microscopic techniques to gather information on the architecture of these biomimetic membranes. Nonetheless, mercury-supported tBLMs are definitely superior to gold-supported biomimetic membranes for the investigation of the function of membrane peptides and proteins, thanks to a fluidity and lipid lateral mobility comparable with those of bilayer lipid membranes interposed between two aqueous phases (BLMs), but with a much higher robustness and resistance to electric fields. The different features of mercury-supported tBLMs reconstituted with functionally active membrane proteins and peptides of bacteriological or pharmacological interest may be disclosed by a judicious choice of the most appropriate electrochemical techniques. We will describe the way in which electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, potential-step chronocoulometry, cyclic voltammetry and phase-sensitive AC voltammetry are conveniently employed to investigate the structure of mercury-supported tBLMs and the mode of interaction of antimicrobial peptides reconstituted into them.

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