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The zervamicins (Zrv) are a family of 16 residue peptaibol channel formers, related to the 20 residue peptaibol alamethicin (Alm), but containing a higher proportion of polar sidechains. Zrv-IIB forms multi-level channels in planar lipid (diphytanoyl phosphatidylcholine) bilayers in response to cis positive voltages. Analysis of the voltage and concentration dependence of macroscopic conductances induced by Zrv-IIB suggests that, on average, channels contain ca. 13 peptide monomers. Analysis of single channel conductance levels suggests a similar value. The pattern of successive conductance levels is consistent with a modified helix bundle model in which the higher order bundle are distorted within the plane of the bilayer towards a "torpedo" shaped cross-section. The kinetics of intra-burst switching between adjacent conductance levels are shown to be approximately an order of magnitude faster for Zrv-IIB than for Alm. The channel forming properties of the related naturally occurring peptaibols, Zrv-Leu and Zrv-IC, have also been demonstrated, as have those of the synthetic apolar analogue Zrv-Al-16. The experimental studies on channel formation are combined with the known crystallographic structures of Zrv-Al-16 and Zrv-Leu to develop a molecular model of Zrv-IIB channels.


Journal article


Eur Biophys J

Publication Date





117 - 128


Alamethicin, Amino Acid Sequence, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Biophysical Phenomena, Biophysics, Electric Conductivity, Ion Channel Gating, Ion Channels, Kinetics, Lipid Bilayers, Membrane Potentials, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Peptaibols, Peptides