Self-association and folding in membrane determine the mode of action of peptides from the lytic segment of sticholysins

Uris Ros, Gustavo P.B. Carretero, Joana Paulino, Edson Crusca, Fabiola Pazos, Eduardo M. Cilli, Maria E. Lanio, Shirley Schreier, Carlos Alvarez*

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Sticholysin I and II (Sts: St I and St II) are proteins of biomedical interest that form pores upon the insertion of their N-terminus in the plasma membrane. Peptides spanning the N-terminal residues of StI (StI1-31) or StII (StII1-30) can mimic the permeabilizing ability of these toxins, emerging as candidates to rationalize their potential biomedical applications. These peptides have different activities that correlate with their hydrophobicity. However, it is not clear how this property contributes to peptide folding in solution or upon binding to membranes. Here we compared the conformational properties of these peptides and shorter versions lacking the hydrophobic segment 1–11 of StI (StI12-31) or 1–10 of StII (StII11-30). Folding of peptides was assessed in solution and in membrane mimetic systems and related with their ability to bind to membranes and to permeabilize lipid vesicles. Our results suggest that the differences in activity among peptides could be ascribed to their different folding propensity and different membrane binding properties. In solution, StII1-30 tends to acquire α-helical conformation coexisting with self-associated structures, while StI1-31 remains structureless. Both peptides fold as α-helix in membrane; but StII1-30 also self-associates in the lipid environment, a process that is favored by its higher affinity for membrane. We stress the contribution of the non-polar/polar balance of the 1–10 amino acid sequence of the peptides as a determining factor for different self-association capabilities. Such difference in hydrophobicity seems to determine the molecular path of peptides folding upon binding to membranes, with an impact in their permeabilizing activity. This study contributes to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the permeabilizing activity of Sts N-terminal derived peptides, with connotation for the exploitation of these small molecules as alternative of the full-length toxins in clinical settings.
Sider (fra-til)109-117
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2019

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This work was partly supported by CAPES-MES, CNPq-MES (Brazil-Cuba) collaboration projects and FAPESP (2002/02067-0). E.C.Jr. received a M.Sc. fellowship from CAPES. E.M.C. and S.S. are CNPq research fellows. G.P.B.C. was a grantee of IC FAPESP fellowship Process 2007/59741–9 and PhD fellowship CNPq Process 141449/2010–1. J.P. was a grantee from CNPQ-PIBC and CNPq. U.R. was a grantee from IFS (4616), Sweden. U.R. visit to the Chemical Institute of São Paulo University was supported by Latin-American and Caribbean Macrouniversities network.


  • Actinoporin
  • Circular dichroism
  • Hemolytic peptide
  • Permeabilizing activity
  • Pore-forming toxin
  • Sticholysin

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