Continuum models that describe the effects of solvent and biological membrane molecules on the structure and behavior of antimicrobial peptides, holds a promise to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of antimicrobial action of these peptides. In such methods, a lipid bilayer model membrane is implicitly represented by multiple layers of relatively low dielectric constant embedded in a high dielectric aqueous solvent, while an antimicrobial peptide is accounted for by a dielectric cavity with fixed partial charge at the center of each one of its atoms. In the present work, we investigate the ability of continuum approaches to predict the most probable orientation of the β-hairpin antimicrobial peptide Protegrin-1 (PG-1) in DLPC lipid bilayers by calculating the difference in the transfer free energy from an aqueous environment to a membrane-water environment for multiple orientations. The transfer free energy is computed as a sum of two terms; polar/ electrostatic and non-polar. They both include energetic and entropic contributions to the free energy. We numerically solve the Poisson-Boltzmann equation to calculate the electrostatic contribution to the transfer free energy, while the nonpolar contribution to the free energy is approximated using a linear solvent accessible surface area relationships. The most probable orientation of PG-1 is that with the lowest relative transfer free energy. Our simulation results indicate that PG-1 assumes an oblique orientation in DLPC lipid bilayers. The predicted most favorable orientation was with a tilt angle of 19°, which is in qualitative agreement with the experimentally observed orientations derived from solid-state NMR data. © 2009 Sayyed-Ahmad et al.
Sayyed-Ahmad, A., & Kaznessis, Y. N. (2009). Determining the orientation of protegrin-1 in DLPC bilayers using an implicit solvent-membrane model. PLoS ONE, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004799