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Bicelles and Other Membrane Mimics: Comparison of Structure, Properties, and Dynamics from MD Simulations

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journal contribution
posted on 31.12.2015, 00:00 by Mikkel Vestergaard, Johan F. Kraft, Thomas Vosegaard, Lea Thøgersen, Birgit Schiøtt
The increased interest in studying membrane proteins has led to the development of new membrane mimics such as bicelles and nanodiscs. However, only limited knowledge is available of how these membrane mimics are affected by embedded proteins and how well they mimic a lipid bilayer. Herein, we present molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate structural and dynamic properties of small bicelles and compare them to a large alignable bicelle, a small nanodisc, and a lipid bilayer. Properties such as lipid packing and properties related to embedding both an α-helical peptide and a transmembrane protein are investigated. The small bicelles are found to be very dynamic and mainly assume a prolate shape substantiating that small bicelles cannot be regarded as well-defined disclike structures. However, addition of a peptide results in an increased tendency to form disc-shaped bicelles. The small bicelles and the nanodiscs show increased peptide solvation and difference in peptide orientation compared to embedding in a bilayer. The large bicelle imitated a bilayer well with respect to both curvature and peptide solvation, although peripheral binding of short tailed lipids to the embedded proteins is observed, which could hinder ligand binding or multimer formation.

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