How peptide molecular structure and charge influence the nanostructure of lipid bicontinuous cubic mesophases: model synthetic WALP peptides provide insights

Leonie van 't Hag, Xu Li, Thomas G. Meikle, Soren V. Hoffmann, Nykola C. Jones, Jan Skov Pedersen, Adrian M. Hawley, Sally L. Gras, Charlotte E Conn, Calum J. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Nanostructured bicontinuous lipidic cubic phases are used for the encapsulation of proteins in a range of applications such as in meso crystallization of transmembrane proteins and as drug delivery vehicles. The retention of the nanoscale order of the cubic phases subsequent to protein incorporation, as well as retention of the protein structure and function, is essential for all of these applications. Herein synthetic peptides (WALP21, WALPS53, and WALPS73) with a common α-helical hydrophobic domain, but varying hydrophilic loop size, were designed to systematically examine the effect of peptide structure and charge on bicontinuous cubic phases. The effect of the cubic phases on the secondary structure of the peptides was also investigated. The incorporation of the WALP peptides in cubic phases formed by a range of lipids showed that hydrophobic mismatch of the peptides with the lipid bilayers, the hydrophilic domain size, and peptide charge were all significant factors determining the response of the lipid nanomaterial to protein insertion. As charge repulsion had the most significant effect on the phase transitions observed, we suggest that buffer pH and salt concentration must be carefully considered to ensure cubic mesophase retention. Importantly, the WALP peptides were found to have a different conformation depending on the local lipid environment. Such structural changes could potentially affect membrane protein function, which is crucial for both current and prospective applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6882-6894
Number of pages13
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

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