Single-Molecule Resolution of Antimicrobial Peptide Interactions with Supported Lipid A Bilayers

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The molecular interactions between antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and lipid A-containing supported lipid bilayers were probed using single-molecule total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Hybrid supported lipid bilayers with lipid A outer leaflets and phospholipid (1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOPE)) inner leaflets were prepared and characterized, and the spatiotemporal trajectories of individual fluorescently labeled LL37 and Melittin AMPs were determined as they interacted with the bilayer surfaces comprising either monophosphoryl or diphosphoryl lipid A (from Escherichia coli) to determine the impact of electrostatic interactions. Large numbers of trajectories were obtained and analyzed to obtain the distributions of surface residence times and the statistics of the spatial trajectories. Interestingly, the AMP species were sensitive to subtle differences in the charge of the lipid, with both peptides diffusing more slowly and residing longer on the diphosphoryl lipid A. Furthermore, the single-molecule dynamics indicated a qualitative difference between the behavior of AMPs on hybrid Lipid A bilayers and on those composed entirely of DOPE. Whereas AMPs interacting with a DOPE bilayer exhibited two-dimensional Brownian diffusion with a diffusion coefficient of ∼1.7 μm2/s, AMPs adsorbed to the lipid A surface exhibited much slower apparent diffusion (on the order of ∼0.1 μm2/s) and executed intermittent trajectories that alternated between two-dimensional Brownian diffusion and desorption-mediated three-dimensional flights. Overall, these findings suggested that bilayers with lipid A in the outer leaflet, as it is in bacterial outer membranes, are valuable model systems for the study of the initial stage of AMP-bacterium interactions. Furthermore, single-molecule dynamics was sensitive to subtle differences in electrostatic interactions between cationic AMPs and monovalent or divalent anionic lipid A moieties.




Nelson, N., & Schwartz, D. K. (2018). Single-Molecule Resolution of Antimicrobial Peptide Interactions with Supported Lipid A Bilayers. Biophysical Journal, 114(11), 2606–2616.

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