The transmembrane helix tilt may be determined by the balance between precession entropy and lipid perturbation

Yana Gofman, Turkan Haliloglu, Nir Ben-Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Hydrophobic helical peptides interact with lipid bilayers in various modes, determined by the match between the length of the helix's hydrophobic core and the thickness of the hydrocarbon region of the bilayer. For example, long helices may tilt with respect to the membrane normal to bury their hydrophobic cores in the membrane, and the lipid bilayer may stretch to match the helix length. Recent molecular dynamics simulations and potential of mean force calculations have shown that some TM helices whose lengths are equal to, or even shorter than, the bilayer thickness may also tilt. The tilt is driven by a gain in the helix precession entropy, which compensates for the free energy penalty resulting from membrane deformation. Using this free energy balance, we derived theoretically an equation of state, describing the dependence of the tilt on the helix length and membrane thickness. To this end, we conducted coarse-grained Monte Carlo simulations of the interaction of helices of various lengths with lipid bilayers of various thicknesses, reproducing and expanding the previous molecular dynamics simulations. Insight from the simulations facilitated the derivation of the theoretical model. The tilt angles calculated using the theoretical model agree well with our simulations and with previous calculations and measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2896-2904
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Theory and Computation
Issue number8
StatePublished - 14 Aug 2012


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