Monte Carlo Models of Spontaneous Insertion of Peptides into Lipid Membranes

  • Jeffrey Skolnick
  • Mariusz Milik


The export of proteins from one compartment to another requires that they be transported across cellular membranes. In addition, membrane proteins must somehow insert into the lipid bilayer after they have been synthesized. Because of their biological importance, the problems of protein insertion into membranes as well as the mechanism(s) of transport across membranes have been extensively studied (Singer, 1990). Experimental data strongly suggest that in vivo most large membrane proteins do not spontaneously insert into membranes (Singer, 1990). Rather, a complex cellular machinery is used. While the basic elements of this machinery are known for many systems, the mechanism and the source of the translocation energy are still unclear (Gierash, 1989; Rapoport, 1992; 1991). On the other hand, when the translocation machinery is blocked or absent, many in vitro experiments provide evidence that some short proteins can insert into phospholipid vesicles (Maduke and Roise, 1993) or into membranes (Wolfe et al, 1985). These experimental results suggest that long and short proteins may translocate by different mechanisms in the cell (von Heijne, 1994) or that the translocation machinery is used to catalyze what is fundamentally a spontaneous insertion process (Jacobs and White, 1989); this may be particularly true for the case of long, amphiphilic sequences.


Peptide Chain Monte CARLO Model Diamond Lattice Curve Membrane Insertion Process 


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© Birkhäuser Boston 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Skolnick
  • Mariusz Milik

There are no affiliations available

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