Influence of membrane-spanning α-helical peptides on the phase behavior of the dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/water system

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The effect of solubilized hydrophobic peptides on the phase behavior of dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC)/water system was studied by 2H- and 31P-NMR spectroscopy and by x-ray diffraction, and partial phase diagrams were constructed. The utilized peptides were HCO-AWW(LA)5WWA-NHCH2CH2OH (WALP16), which is an artificial peptide designed to resemble a transmembrane part of a membrane protein; and VEYAGIALFFVAAVLTLWSMLQYLSAAR (Pgs peptide E), a peptide that is identical to one of the putative transmembrane segments of the membrane-associated protein phosphatidylglycerophosphate synthase (Pgs) in Escherichia coli. Circular dichroism spectroscopy suggests that both peptides are mostly α-helical in DOPC vesicles. The most striking features in the phase diagram of the WALP16/DOPC/water system are 1) a single lamellar liquid crystalline (L(α)) phase forms only at very low peptide concentrations. 2) At low water content and above a peptide/lipid molar ratio of -1:75 a reversed hexagonal liquid crystalline (H(II)) phase coexists with an L(α) phase, while in excess water this phase forms at a peptide/lipid molar ratio of ~1:25. 3) At peptide/lipid ratios ≤1:6 a single H(II) phase is stable. Also, the Pgs peptide E strongly affects the phase behavior, and a single L(α) phase is only found at low peptide concentrations (peptide/lipid molar ratios <1:50), and water concentrations <45% (w/w). Higher peptide content results in coexistence of L(α) and isotropic phases. Generally, the fraction of the isotropic phase increases with increasing temperature and water concentration, and at 80% (w/w) water content only a single isotropic phase is stable at 55°C. Thus, both peptides were found to be able to induce nonlamellar phases, although different in structure, in the DOPC/water system. The phase transitions, the extensions of the one-phase regions, and the phase structures observed for the two systems are discussed in terms of the molecular structure of the two peptides and the matching between the hydrophobic lengths of the peptides and the bilayer thickness of DOPC.




Morein, S., Strandberg, E., Killian, J. A., Persson, S., Arvidson, G., Koeppe, R. E., & Lindblom, G. (1997). Influence of membrane-spanning α-helical peptides on the phase behavior of the dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/water system. Biophysical Journal, 73(6), 3078–3088.

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