The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 239, Issue 1–2, pp 49–56 | Cite as

A Look at Arginine in Membranes



Here, we review the current knowledge about the energetics of arginine insertion into the bilayer hydrocarbon core, and we discuss discrepancies between experimental and computational studies of the insertion process. While simulations suggest that it should be very costly to place arginine into the hydrocarbon core, experiments show that arginine is found there. Both types of studies suggest that arginine insertion into the bilayer involves substantial bilayer deformation, with multiple hydrogen bonds between the arginine guanidinium group and lipid polar groups. It is possible that the discrepancies concerning the insertion cost of arginine arise because simulations overestimate the cost associated with bilayer deformation and underestimate the ability of the bilayer to adapt to charged and polar groups. This is an active area of research, and there is no doubt that a consensus view of arginine in membranes will soon emerge.


Biophysics Biophysics of ion channels Structure Arginine Bilayer Hydrophobicity 



We would like to thank our mentor, Stephen H. White, for countless moments of inspiration, and for helping us learn to be successful scientists and effective teachers. We would also like to thank the members of our own labs, past and present, for their constant hard work and for giving us the opportunity to share Steve’s lessons with the next generation. This work was supported by NIH grants GM60000 and GM068619.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryTulane University School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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