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Characterizing the Interactions of Cell-Membrane-Disrupting Peptides with Lipid-Functionalized Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-15, 13:06 authored by Anju Yadav, Payam Kelich, Nathaniel Kallmyer, Nigel F. Reuel, Lela Vuković
Lipid-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have garnered significant interest for their potential use in a wide range of biomedical applications. In this work, we used molecular dynamics simulations to study the equilibrium properties of SWNTs surrounded by the phosphatidylcholine (POPC) corona phase and their interactions with three cell membrane disruptor peptides: colistin, TAT peptide, and crotamine-derived peptide. Our results show that SWNTs favor asymmetrical positioning within the POPC corona, so that one side of the SWNT, covered by the thinnest part of the corona, comes in contact with charged and polar functional groups of POPC and water. We also observed that colistin and TAT insert deeply into the POPC corona, while crotamine-derived peptide only adsorbs to the corona surface. In separate simulations, we show that three examined peptides exhibit similar insertion and adsorption behaviors when interacting with POPC bilayers, confirming that peptide-induced perturbations to POPC in conjugates and bilayers are similar in nature and magnitude. Furthermore, we observed correlations between the peptide-induced structural perturbations and the near-infrared emission of the lipid-functionalized SWNTs, which suggest that the optical signal of the conjugates transduces the morphological changes in the lipid corona. Overall, our findings indicate that lipid-functionalized SWNTs could serve as simplified cell membrane model systems for prescreening of new antimicrobial compounds that disrupt cell membranes.

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