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Peptaibols are considered as models of those ion channels which consist of a bundle of transbilayer helices surrounding a central pore. X-Ray diffraction and NMR studies have yielded high resolution structures for several peptaibols. In conjunction with other spectroscopic investigations and molecular dynamics simulations, these studies suggest that peptaibols form proline-kinked alpha-helices, and that there may be "hinge-bending" movement of the helix in the region of the central proline residue. The amphipathicity of peptaibol helices is analyzed in relation to their channel-forming properties. Studies of the interactions of peptaibols with lipid bilayers suggest that they are helical when in a membrane-like environment, and that the helix orientation relative to the bilayer is sensitive to the peptaibol:lipid ratio, and to the degree of hydration of the bilayer. Electrical studies reveal that many peptaibols form multiple-conductance level channels in a voltage-dependent fashion. Analysis of conductance levels provides support for the "barrel stave" model of channel formation, whereby different conductance levels correspond to different numbers of monomers in a helix bundle. Alternative models for voltage-activation are discussed, and the roles of molecular dipoles and of hinge-bending in this process are considered. Two molecular models for an N = 6 bundle of alamethicin helices are presented and their electrostatic properties analyzed. The relevance of studies of peptaibols to channel and transport proteins in general is considered.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Eur Biophys J

Publication Date

1993

Volume

22

Pages

105 - 124

Keywords

Alamethicin, Amino Acid Sequence, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Electrochemistry, Electrophysiology, Ion Channels, Kinetics, Lipid Bilayers, Models, Biological, Molecular Sequence Data, Peptaibols, Peptides, Protein Conformation, Protein Structure, Secondary, Thermodynamics, X-Ray Diffraction