Manipulating lipid bilayer material properties using biologically active amphipathic molecules
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Lipid bilayers are elastic bodies with properties that can be manipulated/controlled by the adsorption of amphipathic molecules. The resulting changes in bilayer elasticity have been shown to regulate integral membrane protein function. To further understand the amphiphile-induced modulation of bilayer material properties (thickness, intrinsic monolayer curvature and elastic moduli), we examined how an enantiomeric pair of viral anti-fusion peptides (AFPs) - Z-Gly-D-Phe and Z-Gly-Phe, where Z denotes a benzyloxycarbonyl group, as well as Z-Phe-Tyr and Z-D-Phe-Phe-Gly - alters the function of enantiomeric pairs of gramicidin channels of different lengths in planar bilayers. For both short and long channels, the channel lifetimes and appearance frequencies increase as linear functions of the aqueous AFP concentration, with no apparent effect on the single-channel conductance. These changes in channel function do not depend on the chirality of the channels or the AFPs. At pH7.0, the relative changes in channel lifetimes do not vary when the channel length is varied, indicating that these compounds exert their effects primarily by causing a positive-going change in the intrinsic monolayer curvature. At pH4.0, the AFPs are more potent than at pH7.0 and have greater effects on the shorter channels, indicating that these compounds now change the bilayer elastic moduli. When AFPs of different anti-fusion potencies are compared, the rank order of the anti-fusion activity and the channel-modifying activity is similar, but the relative changes in anti-fusion potency are larger than the changes in channel-modifying activity. We conclude that gramicidin channels are useful as molecular force transducers to probe the influence of small amphiphiles upon lipid bilayer material properties. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.
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