The cell wall component callose is mainly synthesized at certain developmental stages and after wounding or pathogen attack. Callose synthases are membrane-bound enzymes that have been relatively well characterized in vitro using isolated membrane fractions or purified enzyme. However, little is known about their functional properties in situ, under conditions when the cell wall is intact. To allow in situ investigations of the regulation of callose synthesis, cell suspensions of Arabidopsis thaliana (Col-0), and tobacco (BY-2), were permeabilized with the channel-forming peptide alamethicin.
Nucleic acid-binding dyes and marker enzymes demonstrated alamethicin permeabilization of plasma membrane, mitochondria and plastids, also allowing callose synthase measurements. In the presence of alamethicin, Ca2+ addition was required for callose synthase activity, and the activity was further stimulated by Mg2+ Cells pretreated with oryzalin to destabilize the microtubules prior to alamethicin permeabilization showed significantly lower callose synthase activity as compared to non-treated cells. As judged by aniline blue staining, the callose formed was deposited both at the cell walls joining adjacent cells and at discrete punctate locations earlier described as half plasmodesmata on the outer walls. This pattern was unaffected by oryzalin pretreatment, showing a quantitative rather than a qualitative effect of polymerized tubulin on callose synthase activity. No callose was deposited unless alamethicin, Ca2+ and UDP-glucose were present. Tubulin and callose synthase were furthermore part of the same plasma membrane protein complex, as judged by two-dimensional blue native SDS-PAGE.
Alamethicin permeabilization allowed determination of callose synthase regulation and tubulin interaction in the natural crowded cellular environment and under conditions where contacts between the cell wall, the plasma membrane and cytoskeletal macromolecules remained. The results also suggest that alamethicin permeabilization induces a defense response mimicking the natural physical separation of cells (for example when intercellulars are formed), during which plasmodesmata are transiently left open.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small, usually cationic peptides, which permeabilize biological membranes. Their mechanism of action is still not well understood. Here we investigate the preference of alamethicin and melittin for pores of different shapes, using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the peptides in pre-formed toroidal and cylindrical pores. When an alamethicin hexamer is initially embedded in a cylindrical pore, at the end of the simulation the pore remains cylindrical or closes if glutamines in the N-termini are not located within the pore. On the other hand, when a melittin tetramer is embedded in toroidal pore or in a cylindrical pore, at the end of the simulation the pore is lined both with peptides and lipid headgroups, and, thus, can be classified as a toroidal pore. These observations agree with the prevailing views that alamethicin forms barrel-stave pores whereas melittin forms toroidal pores. Both alamethicin and melittin form amphiphilic helices in the presence of membranes, but their net charge differs; at pH ~7, the net charge of alamethicin is −1 whereas that of melittin is +5. This gives rise to stronger electrostatic interactions of melittin with membranes than those of alamethicin. The melittin tetramer interacts more strongly with lipids in the toroidal pore than in the cylindrical one, due to more favorable electrostatic interactions.
molecular dynamics simulations; antimicrobial peptides; toroidal pore; barrel-stave pore; melittin; alamethicin
Antimicrobial peptides often permeabilize biological membranes via a pore mechanism. Two pore types have been proposed: toroidal, where the pore is partly lined by lipid, and barrel-stave, where a cylindrical pore is completely lined by peptides. What drives the preference of antimicrobial peptides for a certain pore type is not yet fully understood. According to neutron scattering and oriented circular dichroism, melittin and MG-H2 induce toroidal pores whereas alamethicin forms barrel-stave pores. In previous work we found that indeed melittin seems to favor toroidal pores whereas alamethicin favors cylindrical pores. Here we designed mutants of these two peptides and the magainin analogue MG-H2, aimed to probe how the distribution of charges along the helix and its imperfectly amphipathic structure influence pore formation. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the peptides in a pre-formed cylindrical pore have been performed. The duration of the simulations was 136 ns to 216 ns. We found that a melittin mutant with lysine 7 neutralized favors cylindrical pores whereas a MG-H2 mutant with lysines in the N-terminal half of these peptides neutralized and an alamethicin mutant with a positive charge at the position 7 form semitoroidal pores. These results suggest that charged residues within the N-terminal half are important for the toroidal pore formation. Toroidal pores produced by MG-H2 are more disordered than the melittin pores, likely because of the charged residues located in the middle of the MG-H2 helix (K11 and K14). Imperfect amphipathicity of melitin seems to play a role in its preference for toroidal pores since the substitutions of charged residues located within the nonpolar face by hydrophobic residues suppress evolution of a toroidal pore. The mutations change the position of lysine 7 near the N-terminus, relative to the lower leaflet headgroups. The MD simulations also show that the melittin P14A mutant forms a toroidal pore, but its configuration diverges from that of melittin and it is probably metastable.
molecular dynamics simulations; antimicrobial peptides; charge distribution; imperfect amphipathicity; melittin; magainin MG-H2
A better understanding of the antimicrobial peptide (AMP) resistance mechanisms of bacteria will facilitate the design of effective and potent AMPs. Therefore, to understand resistance mechanisms and for in vitro assessment, variants of Enterococcus faecalis that are resistant to different doses of the fungal AMP alamethicin (Almr) were selected and characterized. The resistance developed was dose dependent, as both doses of alamethicin and degrees of resistance were colinear. The formation of bacterial cell aggregates observed in resistant cells may be the prime mechanism of resistance because overall, a smaller cell surface in aggregated cells is exposed to AMPs. Increased rigidity of the membranes of Almr variants, because of their altered fatty acids, was correlated with limited membrane penetration by alamethicin. Thus, resistance developed against alamethicin was an adaptation of the bacterial cells through changes in their morphological features and physiological activity and the composition of membrane phospholipids. The Almr variants showed cross-resistance to pediocin, which indicated that resistance developed against both AMPs may share a mechanism, i.e., an alteration in the cell membrane. High percentages of colorimetric response by both AMPs against polydiacetylene/lipid biomimetic membranes of Almr variants confirmed that altered phospholipid and fatty acid compositions were responsible for acquisition of resistance. So far, this is the only report of quantification of resistance and cross-resistance using an in vitro colorimetric approach. Our results imply that a single AMP or AMP analog may be effective against bacterial strains having a common mechanism of resistance. Therefore, an understanding of resistance would contribute to the development of a single efficient, potent AMP against resistant strains that share a mechanism of resistance.
Alamethicin has been extensively studied as an antimicrobial peptide and is widely used as a simple model for ion channel proteins. It has been shown that the antimicrobial activity of peptides is related to their membrane orientation. In this study, we determined the relationship between the solution concentration of alamethicin and its membrane orientation in lipid bilayers using sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy. Our SFG results indicated that the alamethicin molecules more or less lay down on the surface of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) lipid bilayers at a low peptide concentration of 0.84 μM; the α-helix segment tilts at about 88°, and 310-helix segment tilts at about 58° versus the surface normal. However, when the peptide concentration was increased to 15.6 μM, we observed that alamethicin molecules further inserted into the lipid bilayers: the α-helical component changes its orientation to make a 37° tilt from the lipid bilayer normal, and the 310-helical component tilts at about 50° versus the surface normal. This is in agreement with the barrel-stave mode for the alamethicin–cell membrane interaction as reported previously. Additionally, we have also studied membrane orientation of alamethicin as a function of peptide concentration with SFG. Our results showed that the membrane orientation of the alamethicin α-helical component changed substantially with the increase of the alamethicin concentration, while the membrane orientation of the 310-helical component remained more or less the same.
Sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy; antimicrobial peptide; supported lipid bilayer; α-helix; 310-helix
Alamethicin is a well-studied channel-forming peptide that has a prototypical amphipathic helix structure. It permeabilizes both microbial and mammalian cell membranes, causing loss of membrane polarization, and leakage of endogenous contents. Antimicrobial peptide-lipid systems have been studied quite extensively and have led to significant advancements in membrane biophysics. These studies have been performed on lipid bilayers that are generally charged or zwitterionic and restricted to a thickness range of 3 – 5 nm. Bilayers of amphiphilic diblock copolymers are a relatively new class of membranes that can have significantly different material properties compared with those of lipid membranes. In particular, they can be made un-charged, non-zwitterionic, and much thicker than their lipid counterparts. In an effort to extend studies of membrane-protein interactions to these synthetic membranes, we have characterized the interactions of alamethicin and several other membrane-active peptides with diblock copolymer bilayers. We find that although alamethicin is too small to span the bilayer, the peptide interacts with, and ruptures thick polymer membranes.
Systemic signals induced by wounding and/or pathogen or herbivore attack may be realized by either chemical or mechanical signals. In plants a variety of electrical phenomena have been described and may be considered as signal-transducing events; such as variation potentials (VPs) and action potentials (APs) which propagate over long distances and hence are able to carry information from organ to organ. In addition, we recently described a new type of electrical long-distance signal that propagates systemically, i.e., from leaf to leaf, the “system potential” (SP). This was possible only by establishing a non-invasive method with micro-electrodes positioned in substomatal cavities of open stomata and recording apoplastic responses. Using this technical approach, we investigated the function of the peptaibole alamethicin (ALA), a channel-forming peptide from Trichoderma viride, which is widely used as agent to induce various physiological and defence responses in eukaryotic cells including plants. Although the ability of ALA to initiate changes in membrane potentials in plants has always been postulated it has never been demonstrated. Here we show that both local and long-distance electrical signals, namely depolarization, can be induced by ALA treatment.
alamethicin; long distance electrical signal; depolarization; non-invasive recording
Ion channels play crucial roles in transport and regulatory functions of living cells. Understanding the gating mechanisms of these channels is important to understanding and treating diseases that have been linked to ion channels. One potential model peptide for studying the mechanism of ion channel gating is alamethicin, which adopts a split alpha/310 helix structure and responds to changes in electric potential. In this study, sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy (SFG-VS), supplemented by attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), has been applied to characterize interactions between alamethicin (a model for larger channel proteins) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) lipid bilayers in the presence of an electric potential across the membrane. The membrane potential difference was controlled by changing the pH of the solution in contact with the bilayer, and measured using fluorescence spectroscopy. The orientation angle of alamethicin in POPC lipid bilayers was then determined at different pH values using polarized SFG amide I spectra. Assuming that all molecules adopt the same orientation (a δ distribution), at pH=6.7 the α-helix at the N-terminus and the 310 helix at the C-terminus tilt at about 72° (θ1) and 50° (θ2) versus the surface normal, respectively. When pH increases to 11.9, θ1 and θ2 decrease to 56.5° and 45°, respectively. The δ distribution assumption was verified using a combination of SFG and ATR-FTIR measurements, which showed a quite narrow distribution in the angle of θ1 for both pH conditions. This indicates that all alamethicin molecules at the surface adopt a nearly identical orientation in POPC lipid bilayers. The localized pH change in proximity to the bilayer modulates the membrane potential and thus induces a decrease in both the tilt and bend angles of the two helices in alamethicin. This is the first reported application of SFG to the study of model ion channel gating mechanisms in model cell membranes.
Alamethicin has been extensively studied as an antimicrobial peptide (AMP) and is widely used as a simple model for ion channel proteins. It has been shown that the antimicrobial activity of AMPs is related to their cell membrane orientation, which may be influenced by the phase of the lipid molecules in the cell membrane. The “healthy” cell membranes contain fluid phase lipids, while gel phase lipids can be found in injured or aged cells or in some phase separated membrane regions. Thus, investigations on how the phase of the lipids influences the membrane orientation of AMPs are important to understand more details regarding the AMP’s action on cell membranes. In this study, we determined the orientational changes of alamethicin molecules associated with planar substrate supported single lipid bilayers (serving as model cell membranes) with different phases (fluid or gel) as a function of peptide concentration using sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy. The phase changes of the lipid bilayers were realized by varying the sample temperature. Our SFG results indicated that alamethicin lies down on the surface of fluid and gel phase 1,2-dimyristoyl(d54)-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (d-DMPC) lipid bilayers when the lipid bilayers are in contact with a peptide solution with a low concentration of 0.84 μM. However, at a medium peptide concentration of 10.80 μM, alamethicin inserts into the fluid phase lipid bilayer. Its orientation switches from a transmembrane to an in-plane (or lying down) orientation when the phase of the lipid bilayer changes from a fluid state to a gel state. At a high peptide concentration of 21.60 μM, alamethicin adopts a transmembrane orientation while associated with both fluid and gel phase lipid bilayers. We also studied the structural changes of the fluid and gel phase lipid bilayers upon their interactions with alamethicin molecules at different peptide concentrations.
sum frequency generation; alamethicin; supported lipid bilayers; membrane orientation; lipid phase
Alamethicin, a peptide antibiotic, partitions into artificial lipid bilayer membranes and into frog myelinated nerve membranes, inducing a voltage-dependent conductance. Discrete changes in conductance representing single-channel events with multiple open states can be detected in either frog node or lipid bilayer membranes. In 120 mM salt solution, the average conductance of a single channel is approximately 600 pS. The channel lifetimes are roughly two times longer in the node membrane than in a phosphatidylethanolamine bilayer at the same membrane potential. With 2 or 20 mM external Ca and internal CsCl, the alamethicin-induced conductance of frog nodal membrane inactivates. Inactivation is abolished by internal EGTA, suggesting that internal accumulation of calcium ions is responsible for the inactivation, through binding of Ca to negative internal surface charges. As a probe for both external and internal surface charges, alamethicin indicates a surface potential difference of approximately -20 to -30 mV, with the inner surface more negative. This surface charge asymmetry is opposite to the surface potential distribution near sodium channels.
The induction of plant defences involves a sequence of steps along a signal transduction pathway, varying in time course. In this study, the effects of induction of an early and a later step in plant defence signal transduction on plant volatile emission and parasitoid attraction are compared. Ion channel-forming peptides represent a class of inducers that induce an early step in signal transduction. Alamethicin (ALA) is an ion channel-forming peptide mixture from the fungus Trichoderma viride that can induce volatile emission and increase endogenous levels of jasmonic acid (JA) and salicylic acid in plants. ALA was used to induce an early step in the defence response in Brussels sprouts plants, Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera, and to study the effect on volatile emission and on the behavioural response of parasitoids to volatile emission. The parasitoid Cotesia glomerata was attracted to ALA-treated plants in a dose-dependent manner. JA, produced through the octadecanoid pathway, activates a later step in induced plant defence signal transduction, and JA also induces volatiles that are attractive to parasitoids. Treatment with ALA and JA resulted in distinct volatile blends, and both blends differed from the volatile blends emitted by control plants. Even though JA treatment of Brussels sprouts plants resulted in higher levels of volatile emission, ALA-treated plants were as attractive to C. glomerata as JA-treated plants. This demonstrates that on a molar basis, ALA is a 20 times more potent inducer of indirect plant defence than JA, although this hormone has more commonly been used as a chemical inducer of plant defence.
Alamethicin; Brussels sprouts; Cotesia glomerata; jasmonate; parasitoid host-location behaviour; peptaibol; octadecanoid pathway; salicylate; volatile emission
Long alkyl chain quaternary ammonium ions (QA), the local anesthetics (LA) tetracaine and lidocaine, imipramine, and pancuronium cause inactivation of the alamethicin-induced conductance in lipid bilayer membranes. The alamethicin-induced conductance undergoes inactivation only when these amphipathic compounds are added to the side containing alamethicin. The concentration of QA required to cause a given amount of inactivation depends on the length of the hydrocarbon chain and follows the sequence C9 greater than C10 greater than C12 greater than C16. LA and imipramine, in contrast to QA or pancuronium, are able to promote appreciable inactivation only if the pH of the alamethicin-free side is equal to or lower than the pK of these compounds. The membrane permeability to QA, LA, or imipramine is directly proportional to the alamethicin-induced conductance and is larger than the one for potassium. The observed steady state and time-course of the inactivation are well described by a model similar to that proposed by Heyer et al. (1976. J. Gen. Physiol. 67:703--729) and extended for any value of the diffuse double layer potential and for LA and imipramine. In this model QA, LA, or imipramine are able to permeate through the membrane only when the alamethicin-induced conductance is turned on. The amphipathic compounds then bind to the other membrane surface, changing the transmembrane potential and turning the conductance off. For a given concentration of QA, LA, or imipramine the extent of inactivation depends on two factors: first, the binding characteristics of these compounds to the membrane surface and second, their ability to permeate through the membrane when the alamethicin-induced conductance is turned on. The several possible mechanisms of permeation of the amphipathic molecules tested are discussed.
Structures of membrane associated peptides and molecular interactions between peptides and cell membrane bilayers govern biological functions of these peptides. Sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy has been demonstrated to be a powerful technique to study such structures and interactions at the molecular level. In this research, SFG has been applied, supplemented by attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), to characterize interactions between alamethicin (a model for larger channel proteins) and different lipid bilayers in the absence of membrane potential. The orientation of alamethicin in lipid bilayers has been determined using SFG amide I spectra detected with different polarization combinations. It was found that alamethicin adopts a mixed α-helical and 310- helical structure in fluid-phase lipid bilayers. The helix (mainly α-helix) at the N-terminus tilts at about 63° versus the surface normal in a fluid-phase 1,2-Dimyristoyl-D54-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphocholine-1,1,2,2-D4-N,N,N-trimethyl-D9 (d-DMPC)/1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-Glycero-3-Phosphocholine (DMPC) bilayer. The 310 helix at the C-terminus (beyond the Pro14 residue) tilts at about 43° versus the surface normal. This is the first time to apply SFG to study a 310 helix experimentally. When interacting with a gel-phase lipid bilayer, alamethicin lies down on the gel-phase bilayer surface and/or aggregates, which does not have significant insertion into the lipid bilayer.
In this paper, we examined the influence exerted by calcium ions upon physical properties of lipids constituting an artificial membrane. Our strategy was to study changes on alamethicin oligomer kinetic features embedded into such an artificial membrane. At neutral pH and in the presence of calcium ions, we observed an increase in the number of alamethicin monomers that oligomerize within the membrane, forming a multi-substate nanopore. We make the argument that calcium ions binding within the interface between the hydrophobic and the hydrophilic regions of the biomembrane causes a sizeable alteration of the physical properties of neutral lipid membranes. This in turn is seen to influence the translocation rates of alamethicin monomers from the solution adjacent to the biomembrane and leads to an augmentation in the subunit composition of the alamethicin oligomers, leaving the electrical conductance of the substates and their kinetics mainly unchanged.
alamethicin; phospholipids; calcium; electrophysiology
This paper discusses a calcium-dependent inactivation of alamethicin- induced conductance in asymmetric lipid bilayers. The bilayers used were formed with one leaflet of phosphatidyl ethanolamine (PE) and one of phosphatidyl serine (PS). Calcium, initially confined to the neutral lipid (PE) side, can pass through the open alamethicin channel to the negative lipid (PS) side, where it can bind to the negative lipid and reduce the surface potential. Under appropriate circumstances, the voltage-dependent alamethicin conductance is thereby inactivated. We have formulated a model for this process based on the diffusion of calcium in the aqueous phases and we show that the model describes the kinetic properties of the alamethicin conductance under various circumstances. EGTA on the PS side of the membrane reduces the effects of calcium dramatically as predicted by the model.
There is a considerable interest in understanding the function of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), but the details of their mode of action is not fully understood. This motivates extensive efforts in determining structural and mechanistic parameters for AMP’s interaction with lipid membranes. In this study we show that oriented-sample 31P solid-state NMR spectroscopy can be used to probe the membrane perturbations and -disruption by AMPs. For two AMPs, alamethicin and novicidin, we observe that the majority of the lipids remain in a planar bilayer conformation but that a number of lipids are involved in the peptide anchoring. These lipids display reduced dynamics. Our study supports previous studies showing that alamethicin adopts a transmembrane arrangement without significant disturbance of the surrounding lipids, while novicidin forms toroidal pores at high concentrations leading to more extensive membrane disturbance.
We have previously reported that disruption of a maize root-expressed 9-lipoxygenase (9-LOX) gene, ZmLOX3, results in dramatic increase in resistance to diverse leaf and stalk pathogens. Despite evident economic significance of these findings, the mechanism behind this increased resistance remained elusive. In this study, we found that increased resistance of the lox3-4 mutants is due to constitutive activation of induced systemic resistance (ISR) signaling. We showed that ZmLOX3 lacked expression in leaves in response to anthracnose leaf blight pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola, but was expressed constitutively in the roots, thus, prompting our hypothesis: the roots of lox3-4 mutants are the source of increased resistance in leaves. Supporting this hypothesis, treatment of wild-type plants (WT) with xylem sap of lox3-4 mutant induced resistance to C. graminicola to the levels comparable to those observed in lox3-4 mutant. Moreover, treating mutants with the sap collected from WT plants partially restored the susceptibility to C. graminicola. lox3-4 mutants showed primed defense responses upon infection, which included earlier and greater induction of defense-related PAL and GST genes compared to WT. In addition to the greater expression of the octadecanoid pathway genes, lox3-4 mutant responded earlier and with a greater accumulation of H2O2 in response to C. graminicola infection or treatment with alamethicin. These findings suggest that lox3-4 mutants display constitutive ISR-like signaling. In support of this idea, root colonization by Trichoderma virens strain GV29-8 induced the same level of disease resistance in WT as the treatment with the mutant sap, but had no additional resistance effect in lox3-4 mutant. While treatment with T. virens GV29 strongly and rapidly suppressed ZmLOX3 expression in hydroponically grown WT roots, T. virens Δsml mutant, which is deficient in ISR induction, was unable to suppress expression of ZmLOX3, thus, providing genetic evidence that SM1 function in ISR, at least in part, by suppressing host ZmLOX3 gene. This study and the genetic tools generated herein will allow the identification of the signals regulating the induction of resistance to aboveground attackers by beneficial soil microorganisms in the future.
beneficial microorganisms; oxylipin; priming; hydrogen peroxide; root-to-shoot signaling; Trichoderma; Colletotrichum graminicola; long distance signaling
Planar lipid bilayers (PLB) were prepared by the Montal-Mueller technique in a FRAP system designed to simultaneously measure conductivity across, and lateral diffusion of, the bilayer. In the first stage of the project the FRAP system was used to characterise the lateral dynamics of bilayer lipids with regards to phospholipid composition (headgroup, chain unsaturation etc.), presence of cholesterol and the effect of divalent cations on negatively-charged bilayers. In the second stage of the project, lateral diffusion of two fluorescently-labelled voltage-dependent pore-forming peptides (alamethicin and S4s from Shaker K+ channel) was determined at rest and in the conducting state. This study demonstrates the feasibility of such experiments with PLBs, amenable to physical constraints, and thus offers new opportunities for systematic studies of structure-function relationships in membrane-associating molecules.
electric conductivity; lipid bilayers
This paper proposes a method for sensing affinity interactions by triggering disruption of self-assembly of ion channel-forming peptides in planar lipid bilayers. It shows that the binding of a derivative of alamethicin carrying a covalently attached sulfonamide ligand to carbonic anhydrase II (CA II) resulted in the inhibition of ion channel conductance through the bilayer. We propose that the binding of the bulky CA II protein (MW ~30 kD) to the ion channel-forming peptides (MW ~2.5 kD) either reduced the tendency of these peptides to self-assemble into a pore, or extracted them from the bilayer altogether. In both outcomes, the interactions between the protein and the ligand lead to a disruption of self-assembled pores. Addition of a competitive inhibitor – 4-carboxybenzenesulfonamide – to the solution released CA II from the alamethicin-sulfonamide conjugate and restored the current flow across the bilayer by allowing reassembly of the ion channels in the bilayer. Time-averaged recordings of the current over discrete time intervals made it possible to quantify this monovalent ligand binding interaction. This method gave a dissociation constant of ~2 µM for the binding of CA II to alamethicin-sulfonamide in the bilayer recording chamber: this value is consistent with a value obtained independently with CA II and a related sulfonamide derivative by isothermal titration calorimetry.
The interaction of cell and organelle membranes (lipid bilayers) with nanoelectronics can enable new technologies to sense and measure electrophysiology in qualitatively new ways. To date, a variety of sensing devices have been demonstrated to measure membrane currents through macroscopic numbers of ion channels. However, nanoelectronic based sensing of single ion channel currents has been a challenge. Here, we report graphene-based field-effect transistors combined with supported lipid bilayers as a platform for measuring, for the first time, individual ion channel activity. We show that the supported lipid bilayers uniformly coat the single layer graphene surface, acting as a biomimetic barrier that insulates (both electrically and chemically) the graphene from the electrolyte environment. Upon introduction of pore-forming membrane proteins such as alamethicin and gramicidin A, current pulses are observed through the lipid bilayers from the graphene to the electrolyte, which charge the quantum capacitance of the graphene. This approach combines nanotechnology with electrophysiology to demonstrate qualitatively new ways of measuring ion channel currents.
graphene; transistor; lipid bilayer; biosensor; ion channel
Two-pore channels (TPCs) are cation channels with a voltage-sensor domain conserved in plants and animals. Rice OsTPC1 is predominantly localized to the plasma membrane (PM), and assumed to play an important role as a Ca2+-permeable cation channel in the regulation of cytosolic Ca2+ rise and innate immune responses including hypersensitive cell death and phytoalexin biosynthesis in cultured rice cells triggered by a fungal elicitor, xylanase from Trichoderma viride. In contrast, Arabidopsis AtTPC1 is localized to the vacuolar membrane (VM). To gain further insights into the intracellular localization of OsTPC1, we stably expressed OsTPC1-GFP in tobacco BY-2 cells. Confocal imaging and membrane fractionation revealed that, unlike in rice cells, the majority of OsTPC1-GFP fusion protein was targeted to the VM in tobacco BY-2 cells. Intracellular localization and functions of the plant TPC family is discussed.
Ca2+ channel; two-pore channel 1; intracellular localization; plant cells
To enable selection and characterization of highly potent pore-forming peptides, we developed a set of novel assays to probe 1) the potency of peptide pores at very low peptide concentration; 2) the presence or absence of pores in membranes after equilibration; 3) the interbilayer exchangeability of pore-forming peptides; and 4) the degree to which pore-forming peptides disrupt the bilayer organization at equilibrium. Here, we use these assays to characterize, in parallel, six membrane-permeabilizing peptides belonging to multiple classes. We tested the antimicrobial peptides LL37 and dermaseptin S1, the well-known natural lytic peptides melittin and alamethicin, and the very potent lentivirus lytic peptides LLP1 and LLP2 from the cytoplasmic domain of HIV GP41. The assays verified that that the antimicrobial peptides are not potent pore formers, and form only transient permeabilization pathways in bilayers which are not detectable at equilibrium. The other peptides are far more potent and form pores that are still detectable in vesicles after many hours. Among the peptides studies, alamethicin is unique in that it is very potent, readily exchanges between vesicles and disturbs the local bilayer structure even at very low concentration. The equally potent LLP peptides do not exchange readily and do not perturb the bilayer at equilibrium. Comparison of these classes of pore forming peptides in parallel using the set of assays we developed demonstrates our ability to detect differences in their mechanism of action. Importantly, these assays will be very useful in high-throughput screening where highly potent pore-forming peptides can be selected based on their mechanism of action.
Annexins are proteins that bind lipids in the presence of calcium. Though multiple functions have been proposed for annexins, there is no general agreement on what annexins do or how they do it. We have used the well-studied conductance probes nonactin, alamethicin, and tetraphenylborate to investigate how annexins alter the functional properties of planar lipid bilayers. We found that annexin XII reduces the nonactin-induced conductance to ∼30% of its original value. Both negative lipid and ∼30 μM Ca2+ are required for the conductance reduction. The mutant annexin XIIs, E105K and E105K/K68A, do not reduce the nonactin conductance even though both bind to the membrane just as wild-type does. Thus, subtle changes in the interaction of annexins with the membrane seem to be important. Annexin V also reduces nonactin conductance in nearly the same manner as annexin XII. Pronase in the absence of annexin had no effect on the nonactin conductance. But when added to the side of the bilayer opposite that to which annexin was added, pronase increased the nonactin-induced conductance toward its pre-annexin value. Annexins also dramatically alter the conductance induced by a radically different probe, alamethicin. When added to the same side of the bilayer as alamethicin, annexin has virtually no effect, but when added trans to the alamethicin, annexin dramatically reduces the asymmetry of the I-V curve and greatly slows the kinetics of one branch of the curve without altering those of the other. Annexin also reduces the rate at which the hydrophobic anion, tetraphenylborate, crosses the bilayer. These results suggest that annexin greatly reduces the ability of small molecules to cross the membrane without altering the surface potential and that at least some fraction of the active annexin is accessible to pronase digestion from the opposite side of the membrane.
ion channel; annexin; nonactin; alamethicin; tetraphenylborate
Mycoplasmas, which are bacteria that are devoid of a cell wall and which belong to the class Mollicutes, are pathogenic for humans and animals and are frequent contaminants of tissue cell cultures. Although contamination of cultures with mycoplasma can easily be monitored with fluorescent dyes that stain DNA and/or with molecular probes, protection and decontamination of cultures remain serious challenges. In the present work, we investigated the susceptibilities of Mycoplasma fermentans and Mycoplasma hyorhinis to the membrane-active peptides alamethicin, dermaseptin B2, gramicidin S, and surfactin by growth inhibition and lethality assays. In the absence of serum, the four peptides killed mycoplasmas at minimal bactericidal concentrations that ranged from 12.5 to 100 μM, but in all cases the activities were decreased by the presence of serum. As a result, under standard culture conditions (10% serum) only alamethicin and gramicidin S were able to inhibit mycoplasma growth (MICs, 50 μM), while dermaseptin B2 and surfactin were ineffective. Furthermore, 8 days of treatment of HeLa cell cultures experimentally contaminated with either mycoplasma species with 70 μM enrofloxacin cured the cultures of infection, whereas treatment with alamethicin and gramicidin S alone was not reliable because the concentrations and treatment times required were toxic to the cells. However, combination of alamethicin or gramicidin S with 70 μM enrofloxacin allowed mycoplasma eradication after 30 min or 24 h of treatment, depending on the mycoplasma and peptide considered. HeLa cell cultures experimentally infected with mycoplasmas should prove to be a useful model for study of the antimycoplasma activities of antibiotics and membrane-active peptides under conditions close to those found in vivo.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small, usually cationic peptides, which permeabilize bacterial membranes. Understanding their mechanism of action might help design better antibiotics. Using an implicit membrane model, modified to include pores of different shapes, we show that four AMPs (alamethicin, melittin, a magainin analogue, MG-H2, and piscidin 1) bind more strongly to membrane pores, consistent with the idea that they stabilize them. The effective energy of alamethicin in cylindrical pores is similar to that in toroidal pores, whereas the effective energy of the other three peptides is lower in toroidal pores. Only alamethicin intercalates into the membrane core; MG-H2, melittin and piscidin are located exclusively at the hydrophobic/hydrophilic interface. In toroidal pores, the latter three peptides often bind at the edge of the pore, and are in an oblique orientation. The calculated binding energies of the peptides are correlated with their hemolytic activities. We hypothesize that one distinguishing feature of AMPs may be the fact that they are imperfectly amphipathic which allows them to bind more strongly to toroidal pores. An initial test on a melittin-based mutant seems to support this hypothesis.
molecular dynamics simulations; antimicrobial peptides; toroidal pore; barrel-stave pore; implicit solvent