The binding of the amphiphilic, positively charged, cyclic β-sheet antimicrobial decapeptide gramicidin S (GS) to various lipid bilayer model membrane systems was studied by isothermal titration calorimetry. Large unilamellar vesicles composed of the zwitterionic phospholipid 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylcholine or the anionic phospholipid 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoylphosphatidylglycerol, or a binary mixture of the two, with or without cholesterol, were used to mimic the lipid compositions of the outer monolayers of the lipid bilayers of mammalian and bacterial membranes, respectively. Dynamic light scattering results suggest the absence of major alterations in vesicle size or appreciable vesicle fusion upon the binding of GS to the lipid vesicles under our experimental conditions. The binding isotherms can be reasonably well described by a one-site binding model. GS is found to bind with higher affinity to anionic phosphatidylglycerol than to zwitterionic phosphatidylcholine vesicles, indicating that electrostatic interactions in the former system facilitate peptide binding. However, the presence of cholesterol reduced binding only slightly, indicating that the binding of GS is not highly sensitive to the order of the phospholipid bilayer system. Similarly, the measured positive endothermic binding enthalpy (ΔH) varies only modestly (2.6 to 4.4 kcal/mol), and the negative free energy of binding (ΔG) also remains relatively constant (-10.9 to -12.1 kcal/mol). The relatively large but invariant positive binding entropy, reflected in relatively large TΔS values (13.4 to 16.4 kcal/mol), indicates that GS binding to phospholipid bilayers is primarily entropy driven. Finally, the relative binding affinities of GS for various phospholipid vesicles correlate relatively well with the relative lipid specificity for GS interactions with bacterial and erythrocyte membranes observed in vivo.
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