Membrane Cholesterol Reduces Polymyxin B Nephrotoxicity in Renal Membrane Analogs
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Polymyxin B (PmB) is a "last-line" antibiotic scarcely used due to its nephrotoxicity. However, the molecular basis for antibiotic nephrotoxicity is not clearly understood. We prepared kidney membrane analogs of detergent-susceptible membranes, depleted of cholesterol, and cholesterol enriched, resistant membranes. In both analogs, PmB led to membrane damage. By combining x-ray diffraction, molecular dynamics simulations, and electrochemistry, we present evidence for two populations of PmB molecules: peptides that lie flat on the membranes, and an inserted state. In cholesterol depleted membranes, PmB forms clusters on the membranes leading to an indentation of the bilayers and increase in water permeation. The inserted peptides formed aggregates in the membrane core leading to further structural instabilities and increased water intake. The presence of cholesterol in the resistant membrane analogs led to a significant decrease in membrane damage. Although cholesterol did not inhibit peptide insertion, it minimized peptide clustering and water intake through stabilization of the bilayer structure and suppression of lipid and peptide mobility.
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