The orientation of the antibiotic peptide maculatin 1.1 in DMPG and DMPC lipid bilayers. Support for a pore-forming mechanism

C. S.B. Chia, J. Torres*, M. A. Cooper, I. T. Arkin, J. H. Bowie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Maculatin 1.1 is an antimicrobial peptide isolated from the Australian tree frog Litoria genimaculata that adopts an amphipathic, α-helical structure in solution. Its orientation and conformation when incorporated to pre-formed DMPG (1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol) and DMPC (1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine) vesicles was determined using polarised Fourier transform infrared-attenuated total reflection infrared and deuterium exchange experiments. For DMPG membranes, our results show insertion of ∼70% of the maculatin 1.1 molecules, with an angle of insertion of approximately 35° to the membrane normal and with a predominant α-helical structure. These results suggest that maculatin 1.1 acts through a pore-forming mechanism to lyse bacterial membranes. A similar degree of insertion in DMPG (65%) and α-helical structure was observed for a biologically inactive, less amphipathic maculatin 1.1 analogue, P15A, although the helix tilt was found to be greater (46°) than for maculatin 1.1. Similar experiments performed using DMPC liposomes showed poor insertion, less than 5%, for both maculatin 1.1 and its analogue. In addition, the shape of the amide I band in these samples is consistent with α-helix, β-structure and disordered structures being present in similar proportion. These results clearly show that maculatin 1.1 inserts preferentially in negatively charged membranes (DMPG) which mimic the negatively charged membrane of Gram-positive bacteria. We attribute the high percentage of insertion of the biologically inactive analogue in DMPG to the fact that its concentration on the membrane surface in our experiments is likely to be much higher than that found in physiological conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C.S.B.C. and J.H.B. would like to thank the BBSRC and ARC for financial support respectively.


  • 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine
  • 1,2-Dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol
  • Attenuated total reflection
  • Fourier transform infrared
  • Litoria genimaculata
  • Maculatin 1.1
  • Peptide antibiotic
  • Phospholipid membrane


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