Bacterial species selective toxicity of two isomeric alpha/beta-peptides: role of membrane lipids

Molecular Membrane Biology
Raquel F EpandR M Epand


We have studied how membrane interactions of two synthetic cationic antimicrobial peptides with alternating alpha- and beta-amino acid residues ("alpha/beta-peptides") impact toxicity to different prokaryotes. Electron microscopic examination of thin sections of Escherichia coli and of Bacillus subtilis exposed to these two alpha/beta-peptides reveals different structural changes in the membranes of these bacteria. These two peptides also have very different effects on the morphology of liposomes composed of phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylglycerol in a 2:1 molar ratio. Freeze fracture electron microscopy indicates that with this lipid mixture, alpha/beta-peptide I induces the formation of a sponge phase. 31P NMR and X-ray diffraction are consistent with this conclusion. In contrast, with alpha/beta-peptide II and this same lipid mixture, a lamellar phase is maintained, but with a drastically reduced d-spacing. alpha/beta-Peptide II is more lytic to liposomes composed of these lipids than is I. These findings are consistent with the greater toxicity of alpha/beta-peptide II, relative to alpha/beta-peptide I, to E. coli, a bacterium having a high content of phosphatidylethanolamine. In contrast, both alpha/beta-peptides...Continue Reading


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