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Interaction of a short antimicrobial peptide on charged lipid bilayer: A case study on aurein 1.2 peptide...

by Shuo Qian, Piotr A Zolnierczuk
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BBA Advances
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Aurein 1.2 (aurein) is a short but active α-helical antimicrobial peptide discovered in Australian tree frogs (Litoria aurea). It shows inhibition on a broad spectrum of bacteria and cancer cells. With well-defined helicity, amphipathicity, and cationic charges, it readily binds to membranes and causes membrane change and disruption. This study provides details on how aurein interacts with charged lipid membranes by using neutron membrane diffraction (NMD) and neutron spin echo (NSE) spectroscopy on complex peptide-membrane systems. NMD provides higher resolution lipid bilayer structures than solution scattering. NMD revealed the peptide is mostly associated in the lipid headgroup region. Even at moderately high concentrations (e.g., peptide:lipid ratio of 1:30), aurein is located at the acyl chain-headgroup region without deep penetration into the hydrophobic acyl chain. However, it does reduce the elasticity of the membrane at that concentration, which was corroborated by the NSE results. Furthermore, NSE shows that aurein first softens the membrane, like many other α-helical peptides at low concentration, but then makes the membrane much more rigid, even without membrane pore formation. Combining our previous studies, the evidence shows that aurein at relatively low concentrations still modifies lipid distribution significantly and can cause membrane thinning and lateral segregation of charged lipids. At the same time, the membrane's mechanical properties are modified with much slower lipid diffusion. This suggests that aurein can attack the microbial membrane without the need to form membrane pores or disintegrate membranes; instead, it promotes the formation of domains at low concentration.