Interaction of amphipathic peptides mediated by elastic membrane deformations
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Amphipathic alpha-helical peptides are perspective antimicrobial drugs. These peptides are partially embedded into the membrane to a shallow depth so that the longitudinal axis of the helix is parallel to the plane of the membrane or deviates from it by a small angle. In the framework of theory of elasticity of liquid crystals, adapted to lipid membranes, we calculated the energy of deformations occurring near the peptides partially embedded into the membrane. The energy of deformations is minimal when two peptides are parallel to each other and stay at a distance of about 5 nm. This configuration is stable with respect to small parallel displacements of the peptides and with respect to small variation of the angle between their axes both in the plane of the membrane and in the perpendicular direction. As a result of deformation the average thickness of the membrane decreases. The distribution of the elastic energy density has a maximum in the middle between the peptides. This region is the most likely place for formation of the through pores in the membrane. Since the equilibrium distance between the peptides is relatively large, it is assumed that the originally appearing pore should be purely lipidic.
Keywordslipid membrane amphipathic peptide antimicrobial peptide pore elasticity theory
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