5 years ago

Spontaneous Membrane Translocating Peptides: The Role of Leucine-Arginine Consensus Motifs

Spontaneous Membrane Translocating Peptides: The Role of Leucine-Arginine Consensus Motifs
Taylor Fuselier, William C. Wimley


We previously used an orthogonal high-throughput screen to select peptides that spontaneously cross synthetic lipid bilayers without bilayer disruption. Many of the 12-residue spontaneous membrane translocating peptides (SMTPs) selected from the library contained a 5-residue consensus motif, LRLLR in positions 5–9. We hypothesized that the conserved motif could be a necessary and sufficient minimal motif for translocation. To test this and to explore the mechanism of spontaneous membrane translocation, we synthesized seven arginine placement variants of LRLLRWC and compared their membrane partitioning, translocation, and perturbation to one of the parent SMTPs, called "TP2". Several motif variant peptides translocate into synthetic vesicles with rates that are similar to TP2. However, the peptide containing the selected motif, LRLLRWC, was not the fastest; sequence context is also important for translocation efficiency. Although none of these peptides permeabilize bilayers, the motif peptides translocate faster at higher peptide to lipid ratios, suggesting that bilayer perturbation and/or cooperative interactions are important for their translocation. On the other hand, TP2 translocates slower as its concentration is increased, suggesting that TP2 translocates as a monomer and is inhibited by lateral interactions in the membrane. TP2 and the LRLLR motif peptide induce lipid translocation, suggesting that lipids chaperone them across the bilayer. The other motif peptides do not induce lipid flip-flop, suggesting an alternate mechanism. Concatenated motifs translocate slower than the motifs alone. Variants of TP2 with shorter and longer arginine side-chain analogs translocate slower than TP2. In summary, these results suggest that multiple patterns of leucine and arginine can support spontaneous membrane translocation, and that sequence context is important for the contribution of the motifs. Because motifs do not make simple, additive contributions to spontaneous translocation, rational engineering of novel SMTPs will remain difficult, providing even more reason to pursue SMTP discovery with synthetic molecular evolution.

Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30799-3

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.070

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