Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Experimental studies of a number of antimicrobial peptides are sufficiently detailed to allow computer simulations to make a significant contribution to understanding their mechanisms of action at an atomic level. In this review we focus on simulation studies of alamethicin, melittin, dermaseptin and related antimicrobial, membrane-active peptides. All of these peptides form amphipathic alpha-helices. Simulations allow us to explore the interactions of such peptides with lipid bilayers, and to understand the effects of such interactions on the conformational dynamics of the peptides. Mean field methods employ an empirical energy function, such as a simple hydrophobicity potential, to provide an approximation to the membrane. Mean field approaches allow us to predict the optimal orientation of a peptide helix relative to a bilayer. Molecular dynamics simulations that include an atomistic model of the bilayer and surrounding solvent provide a more detailed insight into peptide-bilayer interactions. In the case of alamethicin, all-atom simulations have allowed us to explore several steps along the route from binding to the membrane surface to formation of transbilayer ion channels. For those antimicrobial peptides such as dermaseptin which prefer to remain at the surface of a bilayer, molecular dynamics simulations allow us to explore the favourable interactions between the peptide helix sidechains and the phospholipid headgroups.


Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





185 - 200


Alamethicin, Amino Acid Sequence, Amphibian Proteins, Anti-Infective Agents, Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides, Computer Simulation, Lipid Bilayers, Melitten, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Peptides, Permeability, Phospholipids, Solvents, Thermodynamics