On the role of anionic lipids in charged protein interactions with membranes

Igor Vorobyov, Toby W. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We investigate the role of anionic lipids in the binding to, and subsequent movement of charged protein groups in lipid membranes, to help understand the role of membrane composition in all membrane-active protein sequences. We demonstrate a small effect of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) lipids on the ability of an arginine (Arg) side chain to bind to, and cross a lipid membrane, despite possessing a neutralizing charge. We observe similar membrane deformations in lipid bilayers composed of phosphatidylcholine (PC) and PC/PG mixtures, with comparable numbers of water and lipid head groups pulled into the bilayer hydrocarbon core, and prohibitively large ~ 20 kcal/mol barriers for Arg transfer across each bilayer, dropping by just 2-3 kcal/mol due to the binding of PG lipids. We explore the causes of this small effect of introducing PG lipids and offer an explanation in terms of the limited membrane interaction for the choline groups of PC lipids bound to the translocating ion. Our calculations reveal a surprising lack of preference for Arg binding to PG lipids themselves, but a small increase in interfacial binding affinity for lipid bilayers containing PG lipids. These results help to explain the nature of competitive lipid binding to charged protein sequences, with implications for a wide range of membrane binding domains and cell perturbing peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1673-1683
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


  • Anionic lipid
  • Arginine
  • Cell penetrating peptide
  • Membrane binding
  • Phosphatidylglycerol
  • Proteinlipid interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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