Diphytanoyl lipids as model systems for studying membrane-active peptides
Biochim. Biophys. Acta 2017, 1859 (10), 1828‑1837
The branched chains in diphytanoyl lipids provide membranes with unique properties, such as high chemical/physical stability, low water permeability, and no gel-to-fluid phase transition at ambient temperature. Synthetic diphytanoyl phospholipids are often used as model membranes for electrophysiological experiments. To evaluate whether these sturdy lipids are also suitable for solid-state NMR, we have examined their interactions with a typical amphiphilic peptide in comparison with straight-chain lipids. First, their phase properties were monitored using 31P-NMR, and the structural behaviour of the antimicrobial peptide PGLa was studied by 19F-NMR and circular dichroism in oriented membrane samples. Only lipids with choline headgroups (DPhPC) were found to form stable lipid bilayers in oriented samples, while DPhPG, DPhPE and DPhPS display non-lamellar structures. Hence, the experimental temperature and hydration are crucial factors when using supported diphytanoyl lipids, as both parameters must be maintained in an appropriate range to avoid the formation of non-bilayer structures. For the same reason, a high content of other diphytanoyl lipids besides DPhPC in mixed lipid systems is not favourable. Unlike the situation in straight-chain membranes, we found that the α-helical PGLa was not able to insert into the tightly packed fluid bilayer of DPhPC but remained in a surface-bound state even at very high peptide concentration. This behaviour can be explained by the high cohesivity and the negative spontaneous curvature of the diphytanoyl lipids. These characteristic features must therefore be taken into consideration, both, in electrophysiological studies, and when interpreting the structural behaviour of membrane-active peptides in such lipid environment.