The relationship between the binding to and permeabilization of phospholipid bilayer membranes by GS14dK4, a designed analog of the antimicrobial peptide gramicidin S

Thomas Abraham, Seema Marwaha, Daniel M. Kobewka, Ruthven N.A.H. Lewis, Elmar J. Prenner, Robert S. Hodges, Ronald N. McElhaney

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The cationic β-sheet cyclic tetradecapeptide cyclo[VKLdKVdYPLKVKLdYP] (GS14dK4) is a diastereomeric lysine ring-size analog of the potent naturally occurring antimicrobial peptide gramicidin S (GS) which exhibits enhanced antimicrobial but markedly reduced hemolytic activity compared to GS itself. We have previously studied the binding of GS14dK4 to various phospholipid bilayer model membranes using isothermal titration calorimetry [Abraham, T. et al. (2005) Biochemistry 44, 2103-2112]. In the present study, we compare the ability of GS14dK4 to bind to and disrupt these same phospholipid model membranes by employing a fluorescent dye leakage assay to determine the ability of this peptide to permeabilize large unilamellar vesicles. We find that in general, the ability of GS14dK4 to bind to and to permeabilize phospholipid bilayers of different compositions are not well correlated. In particular, the binding affinity of GS14dK4 varies markedly with the charge and to some extent with the polar headgroup structure of the phospholipid and with the cholesterol content of the model membrane. Specifically, this peptide binds much more tightly to anionic than to zwitterionic phospholipids and much less tightly to cholesterol-containing than to cholesterol-free model membranes. In addition, the maximum extent of binding of GS14dK4 can also vary considerably with phospholipid composition in a parallel fashion. In contrast, the ability of this peptide to permeabilize phospholipid vesicles is only weakly dependent on phospholipid charge, polar headgroup structure or cholesterol content. We provide tentative explanations for the observed lack of a correlation between the affinity and extent of GS14dK4 binding to, and degree of disruption of the structure and integrity of, phospholipid bilayers membranes. We also present evidence that the lack of correlation between these two parameters may be a general phenomenon among antimicrobial peptides. Finally, we demonstrate that the affinity of binding of GS14dK4 to various phospholipid bilayer membranes is much more strongly correlated with the antimicrobial and hemolytic activities of this peptide than with its effect on the rate and extent of dye leakage in these model membrane systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2089-2098
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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