We previously reported that the 18-mer amphiphilic α-helical peptide, Hel 13-5, consisting of 13 hydrophobic residues and five hydrophilic amino acid residues, can induce neutral liposomes (egg yolk phosphatidylcholine) to adopt long nanotubular structures and that the interaction of specific peptides with specific phospholipid mixtures induces the formation of membrane structures resembling cellular organelles such as the Golgi apparatus. In the present study we focused our attention on the effects of peptide sequence and chain length on the nanotubule formation occurring in mixture systems of Hel 13-5 and various neutral and acidic lipid species by means of turbidity measurements, dynamic light scattering measurements, and electron microscopy. We designed and synthesized two sets of Hel 13-5 related peptides: 1) Five peptides to examine the role of hydrophobic or hydrophilic residues in amphiphilic α-helical structures, and 2) Six peptides to examine the role of peptide length, having even number residues from 12 to 24. Conformational, solution, and morphological studies showed that the amphiphilic α-helical structure and the peptide chain length (especially 18 amino acid residues) are critical determinants of very long tubular structures. A mixture of α-helix and β-structures determines the tubular shapes and assemblies. However, we found that the charged Lys residues comprising the hydrophilic regions of amphiphilic structures can be replaced by Arg or Glu residues without a loss of tubular structures. This suggests that the mechanism of microtubule formation does not involve the charge interaction. The immersion of the hydrophobic part of the amphiphilic peptides into liposomes initially forms elliptic-like structures due to the fusion of small liposomes, which is followed by a transformation into tubular structures of various sizes and shapes.
Furuya, T., Kiyota, T., Lee, S., Inoue, T., Sugihara, G., Logvinova, A., … Ellerby, H. M. (2003). Nanotubules formed by highly hydrophobic amphiphilic α-helical peptides and natural phospholipids. Biophysical Journal, 84(3), 1950–1959. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3495(03)75003-6