Binding of Neurotransmitters to Lipid Membranes

Günther H.J. Peters, Mikkel Werge, Maria Northved Elf-Lind, Chunhua Wang, Nicolaj Cruys-Bagger, Gustavo Velardez, Jesper Jonasson Madsen, Peter Westh

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We have performed a series of thermodynamic measurements and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the interactions between the neurotransmitters (NTs) 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), g-aminobutyrate (GABA), glycine (GLY), acetylcholine (ACH) and glutamate (GLU) as well as the amidated / acetylated g-aminobutyrate (GABAneu) with a dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) bilayer. This study was motivated by recent research results that suggested that neural transmission may also be affected by nonspecific interactions of NTs with the lipid matrix of the synaptic membrane. Our results revealed that dependent on the nature of NTs, some of the NTs penetrate into the bilayer. We found that membrane affinity can be ranked with increasing affinity as follows: ACH ~ GLU << GABA < GLY << GABAneu << 5-HT. The latter three penetrated the bilayer at most with the deepest location being close to the glycerol backbone of the phospholipids. It is surprising that hydrophilic solutes can deeply penetrate into the membrane pointing to the fact that membrane affinity is governed by specific interactions. Our MD simulations identified the salt-bridge between the primary amine of NTs and the lipid phosphate group as the most important interaction by which the NTs are anchored to the membrane. These distinctive interactions could be related to nonspecific effects of these neurotransmitters and could point to a bilayer-mediated modulation of nerve transmission. However, due to the strong variability in affinity observed for the different NTs, this attraction is not an inherent property of all neurotransmitters.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2, Supplement 1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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