Alamethicin channels in a membrane: molecular dynamics simulations.
Tieleman DP., Breed J., Berendsen HJ., Sansom MS.
Alamethicin (Alm) is a 20 residue peptide which forms a kinked alpha-helix in membrane and membrane-mimetic environments. Ion channels formed by intramembraneous aggregates of Alm are thought to be formed by bundles of approximately parallel Alm helices surrounding a central bilayer pore. Different channel conductance levels correspond to different numbers of helices per bundle, ranging from N = 5 to N > 8. Calculation of the predicted pKA values of the ring of Glu18 sidechains at the C-terminal mouth of the pore suggests that at neutral pH most or all of these sidechains will remain protonated. Nanosecond molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of N = 5, 6, 7 and 8 bundles of Alm helices in a POPC bilayer have been run, corresponding to a total simulation time of 4 ns. These simulations explore the stability and conformational dynamics of these helix bundle channels when embedded in a full phospholipid bilayer in an aqueous environment. The structural and dynamic properties of water in these model channels are examined. As in earlier in vacuo simulations (J. Breed, R. Sankararamakrishnan, I. D. Kerr and M. S. P. Sansom, Biophys. J., 1996, 70, 1643) the dipole moments of water molecules within the pores are aligned antiparallel to the helix dipoles. This helps to contribute to the stability of the helix bundles.