Characterization of the sequence of interactions of the fusion domain of the simian immunodeficiency virus with membranes. Role of the membrane dipole potential

Josep Cladera, Isabelle Martin, Jean Marie Ruysschaert, Paul O'Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The simian immunodeficiency virus fusion peptide constitutes a 12- residue N-terminal segment of the gp32 protein that is involved in the fusion between the viral and cellular membranes, facilitating the penetration of the virus in the host cell. Simian immunodeficiency virus fusion peptide is a hydrophobic peptide that in Me2SO forms aggregates that contain β-sheet pleated structures. When added to aqueous media the peptide forms large colloidal aggregates. In the presence of lipidic membranes, however, the peptide interacts with the membranes and causes small changes of the membrane electrostatic potential as shown by fluorescein phosphatidylethanolamine fluorescence. Thioflavin T fluorescence and Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy measurements reveal that the interaction of the peptide with the membrane bilayer results in complete disassembly of the aggregates originating from an Me2SO stock solution. Above a lipid/peptide ratio of about 5, the membrane disaggregation and water precipitation processes become dependent on the absolute peptide concentration rather than on the lipid/peptide ratio. A schematic mechanism is proposed, which sheds light on how peptide-peptide interactions can be favored with respect to peptide-lipid interactions at various lipid/peptide ratios. These studies are augmented by the use of the fluorescent dye 1-(3-sulfonatopropyl)-4[β[2-(di-n- octylamino)-6-naphthyl]vinyl] pyridinium betaine that shows the interaction of the peptide with the membranes has a clear effect on the magnitude of the so-called dipole potential that arises from dipolar groups located on the lipid molecules and oriented water molecules at the membrane-water interface. It is shown that the variation of the membrane dipole potential affects the extent of the membrane fusion caused by the peptide and implicates the dipolar properties of membranes in their fusion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)29951-29959
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 1999


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