Relationship of Membrane Curvature to the Formation of Pores by Magainin 2 Academic Article uri icon

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  • Magainin 2, an antimicrobial peptide from the Xenopus skin, kills bacteria by permeabilizing the cell membranes. We have proposed that the peptide preferentially interacts with acidic phospholipids to form a peptide-lipid supramolecular complex pore, which allows mutually coupled transbilayer traffic of ions, lipids, and peptides, thus simultaneously dissipating transmembrane potential and lipid asymmetry [Matsuzaki, K., Murase, O., Fujii, N., and Miyajima, K. (1996) Biochemistry 35, 11361-11368]. In this paper, we examined the effect of membrane curvature strain on pore formation. Magainin effectively forms the pore only in phosphatidylglycerol bilayers at low peptide-to-lipid ratios, well below 1/100. In contrast, the permeabilization of phosphatidylserine, phosphatidic acid, or cardiolipin bilayers occurred at much higher peptide-to-lipid ratios (1/50 to 1/10) with some morphological change of the vesicles. The latter three classes of phospholipids are known to form hexagonal II structures under conditions of reduced interlipid electrostatic repulsions. Incorporation of phosphatidylethanolamine also inhibited the magainin-induced pore formation in the inhibitory order of dioleoylphosphatidylethanolamine > dielaidoylphosphatidylethanolamine. Addition of a small amount of palmitoyllysophosphatidylcholine enhanced the peptide-induced permeabilization of phosphatidylglycerol bilayers. Magainin greatly raised the bilayer to hexagonal II phase transition temperature of dipalmitoleoylphosphatidylethanolamine. These results suggest that the peptide imposes positive curvature strain, facilitating the formation of a torus-type pore, and that the presence of negative curvature-inducing lipids inhibits pore formation.


  • Matsuzaki, Katsumi
  • Sugishita, Ken-ichi
  • Ishibe, Noriko
  • Ueha, Mayu
  • Nakata, Saori
  • Miyajima, Koichiro
  • Epand, Richard

publication date

  • August 1, 1998

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