Enveloping of charged proteins by lipid bilayers

Daniel Harries*, Avinoam Ben-Shaul, Igal Szleifer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The ability of a mixed lipid bilayer composed of neutral and charged lipids to encapsulate an oppositely charged protein is studied with use of a simple theoretical model. The free energy of the bilayer-enveloped protein complex is expressed as a sum of electrostatic and curvature elasticity contributions, and compared to that of a protein adsorbed on a mixed planar bilayer. The electrostatic adsorption energy on the planar bilayer is calculated by using an extended Poisson-Boltzmann approach, which allows for local lipid charge modulation in the adsorption zone. We find that the electrostatic interactions favor the wrapped state, while the bending energy prefers the planar bilayer. To enable the transition from the adsorbed to enveloped protein geometry, there is a minimal necessary protein charge. This "crossover" charge depends on the bending rigidity of the lipid membrane and the (composition dependent) spontaneous curvature of its constituent monolayers. The values for the crossover charge predicted by the theory are in line with the charge necessary for peptide shuttles to penetrate cell membranes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1491-1496
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number4
StatePublished - 29 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


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