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Biochemistry. 1989 Apr 18;28(8):3421-37.

The nature of the hydrophobic binding of small peptides at the bilayer interface: implications for the insertion of transbilayer helices.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of California, Irvine 92717.


One method of obtaining useful information about the physical chemistry of peptide/bilayer interactions is to relate thermodynamic parameters of the interactions to structural parameters obtained by diffraction methods. We report here the results of the application of this approach to interactions of hydrophobic tripeptides of the form Ala-X-Ala-O-tert-butyl with lipid bilayers. The thermodynamic constants (delta Gt, delta Ht, and delta St) for the transfer of the tripeptides from water into DMPC vesicles were determined for X = Leu, Phe, and Trp and found to be consistent with those expected for hydrophobic interactions above the phase transition of DMPC. Combining these results with the earlier ones of Jacobs and White [(1986) Biochemistry 25, 2605-2612], the favorable free energies of transfer with different amino acids in the -X- position increase in the order Gly less than Ala less than Leu less than Phe less than Trp in agreement with the Nozaki and Tanford [(1971) J. Biol. Chem. 246, 2211-2217] hydrophobicity scale. Determination of the location of Ala-[2H5]Trp-Ala-O-tert-butyl in oriented DOPC bilayers by neutron diffraction shows that the most hydrophobic peptide of the series is confined to the bilayer headgroup/water region. Refinement of the diffraction measurements shows that only 13% of the tryptophan is associated with the hydrocarbon core. The distribution of the water tends to mirror that of the peptide. Unlike peptide-free bilayers, 5% of the water penetrates the hydrocarbon, which is about 100-fold greater than expected. A quantitative thermodynamic analysis of the interfacial binding of the peptides suggests that (1) the hydrophobic interactions are 60-70% complete upon binding at the bilayer interface, (2) the interface is likely to play an important role in helix formation and insertion, (3) the hydrogen bond status of amino acid side chains is crucial to insertion, and (4) an a priori lack of knowledge of the status of such bonds could limit the precision of hydrophobicity plots. We introduce an interfacial hydrophobicity scale, IFH(h), with a variable hydrogen bond parameter (h) that permits one to consider explicitly hydrogen bonding in transbilayer helix searches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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