Synchrotron radiation linear dichroism spectroscopy of the antibiotic peptide gramicidin in lipid membranes

Matthew R. Hicks, Timothy R. Dafforn, Angeliki Damianoglou, Paul Wormell, Alison Rodger*, Søren V. Hoffmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed synchrotron radiation linear dichroism (SRLD) to measure the insertion of peptides into lipid bilayers, significantly improving both signal-to-noise and wavelength range over existing methods. Our wavelength cut-off is currently determined by the quality of quartz in the cell, rather than the light source, with signal quality still high at the cut-off. We demonstrate the use of a lipid probe to measure the orientation of the lipid bilayers under flow and describe the way in which this can be used to further interpret SRLD data. The antibiotic peptide gramicidin is shown to exhibit drastically different kinetic and equilibrium behaviour when interacting with lipid membranes with different properties. The charge on the membrane is of interest because of differences in charge between human and bacterial membranes. For this reason we increased the negative charge on the membrane by changing the lipid composition. Increasing negative charge in the gel phase stabilises the liposomes but changes the kinetics of peptide folding. In a gel phase with no negatively charged lipids, gramicidin does not fold well and gives a small signal that indicates a change in orientation of the tryptophan side chains over time. In the fluid phase with no negatively charged lipids, there is initially >10-fold greater peptide signal relative to the gel phase indicating a highly folded and ordered gramicidin backbone. This is followed by liposome disruption. In the gel phase with negatively charged lipids the liposomes are resistant to disruption by gramicidin and exhibit different folding kinetics depending on membrane composition. In the fluid phase with negatively charged lipids there is little signal from either the peptide or the lipid probe indicating that the liposomes have been disrupted by the gramicidin in the time it takes to make the first measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1623-1628
Number of pages6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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