HIV TAT Forms Pores in Membranes by Inducing Saddle-Splay Curvature: Potential Role of Bidentate Hydrogen Bonding


  • We acknowledge helpful discussions with S. Gruner, J. J. Cheng, and A. Garcia. The work is supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Materials Research (Grant no.: 0409769), the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers, and the National Institutes of Health (Grant no.: 1R21K6843-01). The X-ray diffraction data were collected at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (Palo Alto, CA; BL4-2) and the Advanced Photon Source (Argonne, IL; BESSRCAT BL-12ID).


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Pore performance: The TAT protein of HIV can cross cell membranes with remarkable efficiency. By applying ideas from coordination chemistry, soft-condensed-matter physics, and differential geometry, it has been shown that TAT induces saddle-splay curvature in cell membranes, a process that is required for pore formation (see picture of two nonintersecting networks of pores). The results have potential implications for the design of cell-penetrating peptides.