Interaction of the Antimicrobial Peptide Cyclo(RRWWRF) with Membranes by Molecular Dynamics Simulations

C. Appelt, F. Eisenmenger, R. Kühne, P. Schmieder, J.A. Söderhäll

Biophys J.(2005) 89, 2296 - 2306

Antimicrobial peptides have gained a lot of interest in recent years due to their potential use as a new generation of antibiotics. It is believed that this type of relatively short, amphipathic, cationic peptide targets the bacterial membrane, and destroys the chemical gradients over the membrane via formation of stable or transient pores. Here we use the NMR structure of cyclo(RRWWRF) in a series of molecular dynamics simulations in membranes at various peptide/lipid ratios. We observe that the NMR structure of the peptide is still stable after 100 ns simulation. At a peptide/lipid ratio of 2:128, the membrane is only a little affected compared to a pure dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine lipid membrane, but at a ratio of 12:128, the water-lipid interface becomes more fuzzy, the water molecules can reach deeper into the hydrophobic core, and the water penetration free-energy barrier changes. Moreover, we observe that the area per lipid decreases and the deuterium order parameters increase in the presence of the peptide. We suggest that the changes in the hydrophobic core, together with the changes in the headgroups, result in an imbalance of the membrane and that it is thus not an efficient hydrophobic barrier in the presence of the peptides, independent of pore formation.