The structure of the antimicrobial peptide Ac-RRWWRF-NH2 bound to micelles and its interactions with phospholipid bilayers


Hans J. Vogel
Structured Biology Research Group
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Calgary
Calgary Alberta T2N IN4 Canada
Tel.: 1-(403) 220-6006
Fax: 1-(403) 289-9311


Abstract: The hexapeptide Ac-RRWWRF-NH2 has earlier been identified as a potent antimicrobial peptide by screening synthetic combinatorial hexapeptide libraries. In this study, it was found that this peptide had a large influence on the thermotropic phase behavior of model membranes containing the negatively charged headgroup phosphatidylglycerol, a major component of bacterial membranes. In contrast, differential scanning calorimetry showed that it had little effect on model membranes containing the zwitterionic phosphatidylcholine headgroup, the main component of erythrocyte membranes. This behavior is consistent with its biological activity and with its affinity to these membranes as determined by titration calorimetry, implying that peptide–lipid interactions play an important role in this process. The structure of this peptide bound to membrane-mimetic sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and dodecylphosphocholine micelles has been determined using conventional two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance methods. It forms a marked amphipathic structure in SDS with its hydrophobic residues on one side of the structure and with the positively charged residues on the other side. This amphipathic structure may allow this peptide to penetrate deeper into the interfacial region of negatively charged membranes, leading to local membrane destabilization. Knowledge about the importance of electrostatic interactions of Arg and the role of Trp residues as a membrane interface anchor will provide insight into the future design of potent antimicrobial peptidomimetics.