Applications and evolution of melittin, the quintessential membrane active peptide

Shantanu Guha, Ryan P. Ferrie, Jenisha Ghimire, Cristina R. Ventura, Eric Wu, Leisheng Sun, Sarah Y. Kim, Gregory R. Wiedman, Kalina Hristova, Wimley C. Wimley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Melittin, the main venom component of the European Honeybee, is a cationic linear peptide-amide of 26 amino acid residues with the sequence: GIGAVLKVLTTGLPALISWIKRKRQQ-NH2. Melittin binds to lipid bilayer membranes, folds into amphipathic α-helical secondary structure and disrupts the permeability barrier. Since melittin was first described, a remarkable array of activities and potential applications in biology and medicine have been described. Melittin is also a favorite model system for biophysicists to study the structure, folding and function of peptides and proteins in membranes. Melittin has also been used as a template for the evolution of new activities in membranes. Here we overview the rich history of scientific research into the many activities of melittin and outline exciting future applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114769
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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