European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 255–267 | Cite as

A molecular dynamics study of the bee venom melittin in aqueous solution, in methanol, and inserted in a phospholipid bilayer

  • Alice Glättli
  • Indira Chandrasekhar
  • Wilfred F. van. GunsterenEmail author


The structural properties of melittin, a small amphipathic peptide found in the bee venom, are investigated in three different environments by molecular dynamics simulation. Long simulations have been performed for monomeric melittin solvated in water, in methanol, and shorter ones for melittin inserted in a dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine bilayer. The resulting trajectories were analysed in terms of structural properties of the peptide and compared to the available NMR data. While in water and methanol solution melittin is observed to partly unfold, the peptide retains its structure when embedded in a lipid bilayer. The latter simulation shows good agreement with the experimentally derived 3J-coupling constants. Generally, it appears that higher the stability of the helical conformation of melittin, lower is the dielectric permittivity of the environment. In addition, peptide-lipid interactions were investigated showing that the C-terminus of the peptide provides an anchor to the lipid bilayer by forming hydrogen bonds with the lipid head groups.


Lipid Bilayer Transmembrane Helix Melittin Lipid Head Group Lipid Headgroups 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial support was obtained through the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Structural Biology of the Swiss National Science Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged. A.G. thanks Dr. Bojan Zagrovic and Dr. Chris Oostenbrink for fruitful discussions.


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Copyright information

© EBSA 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alice Glättli
    • 1
  • Indira Chandrasekhar
    • 1
  • Wilfred F. van. Gunsteren
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratorium für Physikalische ChemieSwiss Federal Institute of TechnologyZürichSwitzerland

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