Selective Acylation Enhances Membrane Charge Sensitivity of the Antimicrobial Peptide Mastoparan-X

Thomas Povl Etzerodt, Jonas Rosager Henriksen, Palle Rasmussen, Mads Hartvig Clausen, Thomas Lars Andresen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The partitioning of the wasp venom peptide mastoparan-X (MPX) into neutral and negatively charged lipid membranes has been compared with two new synthetic analogs of MPX where the Nα-terminal of MPX was acylated with propanoic acid (PA) and octanoic acid (OA). The acylation caused a considerable change in the membrane partitioning properties of MPX and it was found that the shorter acylation with PA gave improved affinity and selectivity toward negatively charged membranes, whereas OA decreased the selectivity. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that minor differences in the embedding and positioning of the peptide in the membrane caused by either PA or OA acylation play a critical role in the fine-tuning of the effective charge of the peptide and thereby the fine-tuning of the peptide's selectivity between neutral and negatively charged lipid membranes. This finding is unique compared to previous reports where peptide acylation enhanced membrane affinity but also resulted in impaired selectivity. Our result may provide a method of enhancing selectivity of antimicrobial peptides toward bacterial membranes due to their high negative charge—a finding that should be investigated for other, more potent antimicrobial peptides in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)399-409
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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