Effect of multiple aliphatic amino acids substitutions on the structure, function, and mode of action of diastereomeric membrane active peptides

D. Avrahami, Z. Oren, Y. Shai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The initial stages leading to the binding and functioning of membrane-active polypeptides including hormones, signal sequences, and lytic peptides are mainly governed by electrostatic attraction and hydrophobic partitioning between water and lipid bilayers. Antimicrobial peptides serve as an important model for studying the details of these initial steps. However, a systematic analysis of the contribution of multiple hydrophobic amino acids to these steps have been hindered by the propensity of many peptides to aggregate and become inactivated in solution. To this end, we synthesized a series of model amphipathic all L-amino acid peptides and their diastereomers with the sequence KX3KWX2KX2K, where X = Gly, Ala, Val, Ile, or Leu. The effect of the aliphatic amino acids on the biological activity, binding, structure, membrane localization, and mode of action of these peptides was investigated. Most of the L-amino acid peptides oligomerized and adopted distinct structures in solution and in a membrane mimetic environment. Among this group only the Leu containing peptide was hemolytic and highly active on most bacteria tested. The Val- and Leu-containing peptides were hemolytic but inactive toward most bacteria tested. In contrast, the diastereomeric peptides were monomeric and unstructured in solution, but they adopted distinct structures upon membrane binding. While hemolytic activity was drastically reduced, the spectrum of antibacterial activity was preserved or increased. Importantly, we found a direct correlation with the diastereomers between hydrophobicity and propensity to form a helical/distorted-helix and activity (induced membrane leakage and antibacterial activity), despite the fact that they contained 30% D-amino acids. Furthermore, efficient increase in membrane permeability can proceed through different mechanisms. Specifically, the Leu-containing diastereomeric peptide micellized vesicles and possibly bacterial membranes while the Ile-containing diastereomeric peptide fused model membranes and irregularly disrupted bacterial membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12591-12603
Number of pages13
Issue number42
StatePublished - 23 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of multiple aliphatic amino acids substitutions on the structure, function, and mode of action of diastereomeric membrane active peptides'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this