Different membrane anchoring positions of tryptophan and lysine in synthetic transmembrane alpha-helical peptides
by de Planque, M. R. R.; Kruijtzer, J. A. W.; Liskamp, R. M. J.; Marsh, D.; Greathouse, D. V.; Koeppe, R. E.; de Kruijff, B.; Killian, J. A.
Specific interactions of membrane proteins with the membrane interfacial region potentially define protein position with respect to the lipid environment. We investigated the proposed roles of tryptophan and lysine side chains as "anchoring" residues of transmembrane proteins. Model systems were employed, consisting of phosphatidylcholine lipids and hydrophobic alpha-helical peptides, flanked either by tryptophans or lysines, Peptides were incorporated in bilayers of different thickness, and effects on lipid structure were analyzed. Induction of nonbilayer phases and also increases in bilayer thickness were observed that could be explained by a tendency of Trp as well as Lys residues to maintain interactions with the interfacial region, However, effects of the two peptides were remarkably different, indicating affinities of Trp and Lys for different sites at the interface, Our data support a model in which the Trp side chain has a specific affinity for a well defined site near the lipid carbonyl region, while the lysine side chain prefers to be located closer to the aqueous phase, near the lipid phosphate group. The information obtained in this study may further our understanding of the architecture of transmembrane proteins and may prove useful for refining prediction methods for transmembrane segments.