The structure and dynamics of synthetic melittin (MLT) and MLT analogues bound to monomyristoylphosphatidylcholine micelles, dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine vesicles, and diacyl-phosphatidylcholine films have been investigated by fluorescence, CD, attenuated total reflectance (ATR) FTIR, and 13C NMR spectroscopy. All of these methods provide information about peptide secondary structure and/or about the environment of the single tryptophan side chain in these lipid environments. ATR-FTIR data provide additional information about the orientation of helical peptide segments with respect to the bilayer plane. Steady-state fluorescence anisotropy, fluorescence lifetime, and 13C NMR relaxation data are used in concert to provide quantitative information about the dynamics of a single 13C-labeled tryptophan side chain at position 19 in lipid-bound MLT, and at positions 17, 11, and 9, respectively, in lipid-bound MLT analogues. Peptide chain dynamics are probed by NMR relaxation studies of 13Cα-labeled glycine incorporated into each of the MLT peptides at position 12. The cumulative structural and dynamic data are consistent with a model wherein the N-terminal a-helical segment of these peptides is oriented perpendicular to the bilayer plane. Correlation times for the lysolipid-peptide complexes provide evidence for binding of a single peptide monomer per micelle. A model for the membranolytic action of MLT and MLT-like peptides is proposed.
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