The 2004 Biophysical Society-Avanti Award in Lipids address: roles of bilayer structure and elastic properties in peptide localization in membranes.
This review details how bilayer structural/elastic properties impact three distinct areas of biological significance. First, the partitioning of melittin into bilayers and melittin-induced bilayer leakage depended strongly on bilayer composition. The incorporation of cholesterol into phosphatidylcholine bilayers decreased melittin-induced leakage from 73 to 3%, and bilayers composed of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the main lipid on the surface of Gram-negative bacteria, also had low (3%) melittin-induced leakage. Second, transbilayer peptides of different hydrophobic lengths were largely excluded from bilayer microdomains ("rafts") enriched in sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol, even when the length of the transbilayer peptide domain matched the hydrocarbon thickness of the raft bilayer. This is likely due to the large area compressibility modulus of SM:cholesterol bilayers. Third, the major water barrier of skin, the extracellular lamellae of the stratum corneum, was found to contain tightly packed asymmetric lipid bilayers with cholesterol located preferentially on one side of the bilayer and a unique skin ceramide containing an unsaturated acyl chain on the opposite side. We argue that, in each of these three areas, key factors are differences in lipid hydrocarbon chain packing for different lipids, particularly the tight hydrocarbon chain packing caused by cholesterol's strong interaction with saturated chains.
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