The effect of peptide/lipid hydrophobic mismatch on the phase behavior of model membranes mimicking the lipid composition in Escherichia coli membranes

by Morein, S.; Koeppe, R. E.; Lindblom, G.; de Kruijff, B.; Killian, J. A.

The effect of hydrophobic peptides on the lipid phase behavior of an aqueous dispersion of dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine and dioleoylphosphatidylglycerol (7:3 molar ratio) was studied by P-31 NMR spectroscopy The peptides (WALPn peptides, where n is the total number of amino acid residues) are designed as models for transmembrane parts of integral membrane proteins and consist of a hydrophobic sequence of alternating leucines and alanines, of variable length, that is flanked on both ends by tryptophans. The pure lipid dispersion was shown to undergo a lamellar-to-isotropic phase transition at similar to 60 degrees C. Small-angle x-ray scattering showed that a? a lower water content a cubic phase belonging to the space group Pn3m is formed, suggesting also that the isotropic phase in the lipid dispersion represents a cubic liquid crystalline phase. It was found that the WALP peptides very efficiently promote formation of nonlamellar phases in this lipid system. At a peptide-to-lipid (P/L) molar ratio of 1:1000, the shortest peptide used, WALP16, lowered the lamellar-to-isotropic phase transition by similar to 15 degrees C. This effect was less for longer peptides. For all of the WALP peptides used, an increase in peptide concentration led to a further lowering of the phase transition temperature. At the highest P/L ratio (1:25) studied, WALP16 induced a reversed hexagonal liquid crystalline (H-II) phase, while the longer peptides still promoted the formation of an isotropic phase. Peptides with a hydrophobic length larger than the bilayer thickness were found to be unable to inhibit formation of the isotropic phase. The results are discussed in terms of mismatch between the hydrophobic length of the peptide and the hydrophobic thickness of the lipid bilayer and its consequences for lipid-protein interactions in membranes.

Biophysical Journal
Start Page
1542-0086; 0006-3495