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Biophys J. 1998 Jan;74(1):256-67.

Aqueous solubilization of transmembrane peptide sequences with retention of membrane insertion and function.

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Department of Biochemistry, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, USA.


We recently reported that the peptide C-K4-M2GlyR mimics the action of chloride channels when incorporated into the apical membrane of cultured renal epithelial monolayers. C-K4-M2GlyR is one of a series of peptides that were prepared by the addition of lysine residues to the N- or C-terminus of the M2 transmembrane sequence of the brain glycine receptor. This study addresses how such modifications affect physical properties such as aqueous solubility, aggregation, and secondary structure, as well as the ability of the modified peptides to form channels in epithelial monolayers. A graded improvement in solubility with a concomitant decrease in aggregation in aqueous media was observed for the M2GlyR transmembrane sequences. Increases in short-circuit current (I(SC)) of epithelial monolayers were observed after treatment with some but not all of the peptides. The bioactivity was higher for the more soluble, less aggregated M2GlyR peptides. As described in our previous communication, sensitivity of channel activity to diphenylamine-2-carboxylate, a chloride channel blocker, and bumetanide, an inhibitor of the Na/K/2Cl cotransporter, was used to assess changes in chloride selectivity for the different assembled channel-forming peptides. The unmodified M2GlyR sequence and the modified peptides with less positive charge are more sensitive to these agents than are the more highly charged forms. This study shows that relatively insoluble transmembrane sequences can be modified such that they are easier to purify and deliver in the absence of organic solvents with retention of membrane association, insertion, and assembly.

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