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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2015 Jul 14;17(26):17461-70. doi: 10.1039/c5cp02047f.

Gramicidin A disassembles large conductive clusters of its lysine-substituted derivatives in lipid membranes.

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Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia.


N-terminally substituted lysine derivatives of gramicidin A (gA), [Lys1]gA and [Lys3]gA, but not glutamate- or aspartate-substituted peptides have been previously shown to cause the leakage of carboxyfluorescein from liposomes. Here, the leakage induction was also observed for [Arg1]gA and [Arg3]gA, while [His1]gA and [His3]gA were inactive at neutral pH. The Lys3-containing analogue with all tryptophans replaced by isoleucines did not induce liposome leakage, similar to gA. This suggests that the presence of both tryptophans and N-terminal cationic residues is critical for pore formation. Remarkably, the addition of gA blocked the leakage induced by [Lys3]gA. By examining with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy the peptide-induced leakage of fluorescent markers from liposomes, we estimated the diameter of pores responsible for the leakage to be about 1.6 nm. Transmission electron cryo-microscopy imaging of liposomes with [Lys3]gA showed that the liposomal membranes contained high electron density particles with a size of about 40 Å, suggesting the formation of peptide clusters. No such clusterization was observed in liposomes incorporating gA or a mixture of gA with [Lys3]gA. Three-dimensional reconstruction of the clusters was compatible with their pentameric arrangement. Based on experimental data and computational modeling, we suggest that the large pore formed by [Lys3]gA represents a barrel-stave oligomeric cluster formed by antiparallel double-stranded helical dimers (DH). In a tentative model, the pentamer of dimers may be stabilized by aromatic Trp-Trp and cation-π Trp-Lys interactions between the neighboring DHs. The inhibiting effect of gA on the [Lys3]gA-induced leakage can be attributed to breaking of cation-π interactions, which prevents peptide clusterization and pore formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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