Mechanism of Reversible Peptide-Bilayer Attachment: Combined Simulation and Experimental Single-Molecule Study

Nadine Schwierz, Stefanie Krysiak, Thorsten Hugel, Martin Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The binding of peptides and proteins to lipid membrane surfaces is of fundamental importance for many membrane-mediated cellular processes. Using closely matched molecular dynamics simulations and atomic force microscopy experiments, we study the force-induced desorption of single peptide chains from phospholipid bilayers to gain microscopic insight into the mechanism of reversible attachment. This approach allows quantification of desorption forces and decomposition of peptide-membrane interactions into energetic and entropic contributions. In both simulations and experiments, the desorption forces of peptides with charged and polar side chains are much smaller than those for hydrophobic peptides. The adsorption of charged/polar peptides to the membrane surface is disfavored by the energetic components, requires breaking of hydrogen bonds involving the peptides, and is favored only slightly by entropy. By contrast, the stronger adsorption of hydrophobic peptides is favored both by energy and by entropy and the desorption forces increase with increasing side-chain hydrophobicity. Interestingly, the calculated net adsorption free energies per residue correlate with experimental results of single residues, indicating that side-chain free energy contributions are largely additive. This observation can help in the design of peptides with tailored adsorption properties and in the estimation of membrane binding properties of peripheral membrane proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-821
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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