pH-Dependent Membrane Interactions of the Histidine-Rich Cell-Penetrating Peptide LAH4-L1
The histidine-rich designer peptide LAH4-L1 exhibits antimicrobial and potent cell-penetrating activities for a wide variety of cargo including nucleic acids, polypeptides, adeno-associated viruses, and nanodots. The non-covalent complexes formed between the peptide and cargo enter the cell via an endosomal pathway where the pH changes from neutral to acidic. Here, we investigated the membrane interactions of the peptide with phospholipid bilayers and its membrane topology using static solid-state NMR spectroscopy. Oriented 15N solid-state NMR indicates that in membranes composed of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho-L-serine (POPS) 3:1 mol/mole and at neutral pH, the peptide adopts transmembrane topologies. Furthermore, 31P and 2H solid-state NMR spectra show that liquid crystalline 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DMPC) and POPC/POPS 3:1 liposomes retain a bilayer macroscopic phase even at the highest peptide concentrations investigated, with an oblate orientational distribution of the phospholipids at a peptide/lipid ratio of 1:5. At pH 5, as it occurs in the endosome, the alignment of LAH4-L1 at a peptide/lipid ratio of 1:25 is predominantly parallel to POPC/POPS 3:1 bilayers (prolate deformation) when at the same time it induces a considerable decrease of the deuterium order parameter of POPC/2H31-POPS 3:1. In addition, when studied in mechanically supported lipid membranes, a pronounced disordering of the phospholipid alignment is observed. In the presence of even higher peptide concentrations, lipid spectra are observed that suggest the formation of magnetically oriented or isotropic bicelles. This membrane-disruptive effect is enhanced for gel phase DMPC membranes. By protonation of the four histidines in acidic environments, the overall charge and hydrophobic moment of LAH4-L1 considerably change, and much of the peptide is released from the cargo. Thus, the amphipathic peptide sequences become available to disrupt the endosomal membrane and to assure highly efficient release from this organelle.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30736-1
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