Study of the interaction of a novel semi-synthetic peptide with model lipid membranes

Lucia Sessa*, Simona Concilio*, Peter Walde, Tom Robinson, Petra S. Dittrich, Amalia Porta, Barbara Panunzi, Ugo Caruso, Stefano Piotto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Most linear peptides directly interact with membranes, but the mechanisms of interaction are far from being completely understood. Here, we present an investigation of the membrane interactions of a designed peptide containing a non-natural, synthetic amino acid. We selected a nonapeptide that is reported to interact with phospholipid membranes, ALYLAIRKR, abbreviated as ALY. We designed a modified peptide (azoALY) by substituting the tyrosine residue of ALY with an antimicrobial azobenzene-bearing amino acid. Both of the peptides were examined for their ability to interact with model membranes, assessing the penetration of phospholipid monolayers, and leakage across the bilayer of large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) and giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs). The latter was performed in a microfluidic device in order to study the kinetics of leakage of entrapped calcein from the vesicles at the single vesicle level. Both types of vesicles were prepared from a 9:1 (mol/mol) mixture of POPC (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) and POPG (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho(1′-rac-glycerol). Calcein leakage from the vesicles was more pronounced at a low concentration in the case of azoALY than for ALY. Increased vesicle membrane disturbance in the presence of azoALY was also evident from an enzymatic assay with LUVs and entrapped horseradish peroxidase. Molecular dynamics simulations of ALY and azoALY in an anionic POPC/POPG model bilayer showed that ALY peptide only interacts with the lipid head groups. In contrast, azoALY penetrates the hydrophobic core of the bilayers causing a stronger membrane perturbation as compared to ALY, in qualitative agreement with the experimental results from the leakage assays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number294
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number10
Early online date19 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Azo-amino acid
  • GUV
  • LUV
  • MD
  • Peptide


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