Thermodynamics of the interactions of tryptophan-rich cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides with model and natural membranes

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Abstract

Tritrpticin and indolicidin are short 13-residue tryptophan-rich antimicrobial peptides that hold potential as future alternatives for antibiotics. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) has been applied as the main tool in this study to investigate the thermodynamics of the interaction of these two cathelicidin peptides as well as five tritrpticin analogs with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs), representing model and natural anionic membranes. The anionic LUVs were composed of (a) 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine/1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (POPE/POPG) (7:3) and (b) natural E. coli polar lipid extract. 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) was used to make model zwitterionic membranes. Binding isotherms were obtained to characterize the antimicrobial peptide binding to the LUVs, which then allowed for calculation of the thermodynamic parameters of the interaction. All peptides exhibited substantially stronger binding to anionic POPE/POPG and E. coli membrane systems than to the zwitterionic POPC system due to strong electrostatic attractions between the highly positively charged peptides and the negatively charged membrane surface, and results with tritrpticin derivatives further revealed the effects of various amino acid substitutions on membrane binding. No significant improvement was observed upon increasing the Tritrp peptide charge from + 4 to + 5. Replacement of Arg residues with Lys did not substantially change peptide binding to anionic vesicles but moderately decreased the binding to zwitterionic LUVs. Pro to Ala substitutions in tritrpticin, allowing the peptide to adopt an α-helical structure, resulted in a significant increase of the binding to both anionic and zwitterionic vesicles and therefore reduced the selectivity for bacterial and mammalian membranes. In contrast, substitution of Trp with other aromatic amino acids significantly decreased the peptide's ability to bind to anionic LUVs and essentially eliminated binding to zwitterionic LUVs. The ITC results were consistent with the outcome of fluorescence spectroscopy membrane binding and perturbation studies. Overall, our work showed that a natural E. coli polar lipid extract as a bacterial membrane model was advantageous compared to the simpler and more widely used POPE/POPG lipid system. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Andrushchenko, V. V., Aarabi, M. H., Nguyen, L. T., Prenner, E. J., & Vogel, H. J. (2008). Thermodynamics of the interactions of tryptophan-rich cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides with model and natural membranes. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1778(4), 1004–1014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2007.12.022

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