Structure and dynamics of an amphiphilic peptide in a lipid bilayer: A molecular dynamics study

Katarína Belohorcová, James H. Davis, Thomas B. Woolf, Benoît Roux

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62 Scopus citations


A molecular dynamics simulation of a simple model membrane system composed of a single amphiphilic helical peptide (ace-K2GL16K2A-amide) in a fully hydrated 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine bilayer was performed for a total of 1060 ps. The secondary structure of the peptide and its stability were described in terms of average dihedral angles, φ and ψ, and the C(α) torsion angles formed by backbone atoms; by the average translation per residue along the helix axis; and by the intramolecular peptide hydrogen bonds. The results indicated that residues 6 through 15 remain in a stable right-handed α-helical conformation, whereas both termini exhibit substantial fluctuations. A change in the backbone dihedral angles for residues 16 and 17 is accompanied by the loss of two intramoleculer hydrogen bonds, leading to a local but long-lived disruption of the helix. The dynamics of the peptide was characterized in terms of local and global helix motions. The local motions of the N-H bond angles were described in terms of the autocorrelation functions of P2[cos Θ(NH)(t, t + τ)] and reflected the different degrees of local peptide order as well as a variation in time scale for local motions. The (X1) and (X2) dihedral angles of the leucine side chains underwent frequent transitions between potential minima. No connection between the side-chain positions and their mobility was observed, however. In contrast, the lysine side chains displayed little mobility during the simulation. The global peptide motions were characterized by the tilting and bending motions of the helix. Although the peptide was initially aligned parallel to the bilayer normal, during the simulation it was observed to tilt away from the normal, reaching an angle of ~25°by the end of the simulation. In addition, a slight bend of the helix was detected. Finally, the solvation of the peptide backbone and side-chain atoms was also investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3039-3055
Number of pages17
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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