Interactions of the M2δ Segment of the Acetylcholine Receptor with Lipid Bilayers: A Continuum-Solvent Model Study

Amit Kessel, Turkan Haliloglu, Nir Ben-Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


M2δ, one of the transmembrane segments of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, is a 23-amino-acid peptide, frequently used as a model for peptide-membrane interactions. In this and the companion article we describe studies of M2δ-membrane interactions, using two different computational approaches. In the present work, we used continuum-solvent model calculations to investigate key thermodynamic aspects of its interactions with lipid bilayers. M2δ was represented in atomic detail and the bilayer was represented as a hydrophobic slab embedded in a structureless aqueous phase. Our calculations show that the transmembrane orientation is the most favorable orientation of the peptide in the bilayer, in good agreement with both experimental and computational data. Moreover, our calculations produced the free energy of association of M2δ with the lipid bilayer, which, to our knowledge, has not been reported to date. The calculations included 10 structures of M2δ, determined by nuclear magnetic resonance in dodecylphosphocholine micelles. All the structures were found to be stable inside the lipid bilayer, although their water-to-membrane transfer free energies differed by as much as 12 kT. Although most of the structures were roughly linear, a single structure had a kink in its central region. Interestingly, this structure was found to be the most stable inside the lipid bilayer, in agreement with molecular dynamics simulations of the peptide and with the recently determined structure of the intact receptor. Our analysis showed that the kink reduced the polarity of the peptide in its central region by allowing the electrostatic masking of the Glnl3 side chain in that area. Our calculations also showed a tendency for the membrane to deform in response to peptide insertion, as has been previously found for the membrane-active peptides alamethicin and gramicidin. The results are compared to Monte Carlo simulations of the peptide-membrane system, as presented in the accompanying article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3687-3695
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


FundersFunder number
Bogazici University02HA501
Israel Ministry of Industry and Trade
State Planning Organization of Turkish Republic01K120280
North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationLAST-CLG 977836
Türkiye Bilimler AkademisiEA-TUBA-GEBIP/2001-1-1


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