Atomistic-Level Investigation of a LL37-Conjugated Gold Nanoparticle by Well-Tempered Metadynamics

André F. Ferreira, Michela Comune, Akhilesh Rai, Lino Ferreira, Pedro N. Simões*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


LL37 is a cathelicidin-derived antimicrobial peptide (AMP) with a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity and wound-healing potential. The enhancement of these characteristics was recently demonstrated for a cysteine (CYS)-modified cathelicidin-derived LL37-SH conjugated with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Considering the potential of this peptide, we hereby report a computational study in which well-tempered metadynamics was applied to unveil the interaction of LL37-SH and LL37 with a AuNP with atomistic detail. A structural analysis combined with the free energy surface (FES) characterization allowed the assessment of the role of CYS residue during the formation of the conjugate, as well as to understand how the AuNP improves the antimicrobial activity of the peptide. It was found that CYS promotes a lower conformational entropy (before and after adsorption onto the AuNP) and a faster adsorption process when compared to the LL37 without CYS. The FES for LL37-SH is characterized by one global minimum, while for LL37 a potential metastable state was found. The presence of the AuNP leads to an elongation of the peptides along with the adsorption, which translates into the increase of the solvent-accessible surface area. This elongation combined with the greater availability of positively charged residues upon adsorption rationalizes the observed enhancement of the activity of the LL37-SH/AuNP conjugate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8359-8366
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number35
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


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