The effects of gramicidin on the structure of phospholipid assemblies /
Szule, Joseph A.
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Gramicidin is an antibiotic peptide that can be incorporated into the monolayers of cell membranes. Dimerization through hydrogen bonding between gramicidin monomers in opposing leaflets of the membrane results in the formation of an iontophoretic channel. Surrounding phospholipids, with various associated mechanical properties, have been shown to influence the gating properties of this channel. Conversely, gramicidin incorporation has been shown to affect the structure of spontaneously formed lipid assemblies. Using small-angle x-ray diffraction and model systems composed of phospholipids and gramicidin, the physical effects incurred by gramicidin incorporation were measured. The reverse hexagonal (H^) phase composed of dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) monolayers decreased in lattice dimension with increasing incorporation of gramicidin. This indicated that gramicidin was adding negative curvature to the monolayers. In this system, gramicidin was measured to have an apparent intrinsic radius of curvature (Rop*™") of -7. 1 A. The addition of up to 4 mol% gramicidin in mixtures with DOPE did not result in the monolayers becoming stiffer, as indicated by unaltered bending moduli for each composition. Dioleoylphosphatidylcholine (DOPC) alone forms the lamellar (LJ phase when hydrated, but undergoes a transition into the H^ phase when mixed with gramicidin. The lattice repeat dimension decreases systematically with increased gramicidin content. Again, this indicated that gramicidin was adding negative curvature to the monolayers. At 12 mol% gramicidin in mixtures with DOPC, the apparent radius of intrinsic curvature of gramicidin (Rop*"^) was measured to be -7.4 A. This mixture formed monolayers that were very resistant to bending under osmotic pressure, with a measured bending modulus of 1 15 kT. The measurements made in this study demonstrate that peptides are able to modulate the spontaneous curvature and other mechanical properties of phospholipid assemblies.