A Fluorescence Spectroscopy Study on the Interactions of the TAT-PTD Peptide with Model Lipid Membranes

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Chemistry and Biochemistry


Mathematics and Natural Sciences


Protein-transduction domains (PTDs) have been shown to translocate into and through the living cells in a rapid manner by an as yet unknown mechanism. Regardless of the mechanism of translocation, the first necessary step must be binding of the PTD peptide to the surface of the lipid membrane. We used fluorescence spectroscopy to study the interaction between PTD of the HIV-1 Tat protein (TAT-PTD; residues 47−60 of Tat, fluorescently labeled with tryptophan) and the lipid bilayer labeled with various fluorescence membrane probes. The TAT-PTD tryptophan exhibited a decrease in fluorescence intensity and an increase in anisotropy upon interaction with lipid bilayers. The fluorescence changes were linearly proportional to the density of negative charge in the membrane. Kinetic analysis of the interaction showed two apparent dissociation constants. The value of one dissociation constant (Kd1 = 2.6 ± 0.6 μM), which accounted for 24% of the interaction, was found to be independent of the negative charge density, suggesting its nonelectrostatic nature. The value of the second dissociation constant (Kd2), which accounted for 76% of the interaction, decreased linearly from 610 ± 150 to 130 ± 30 μM with an increase in negative charge density from 0 to 25 mol %, suggesting this interaction is electrostatic in nature. Even though the binding was predominantly electrostatic, it could not be reversed by high salt, indicating the presence of a second, irreversible, step in the interaction with lipid. When TAT-PTD was bound to lipid vesicles labeled with 1-(4-trimethylammoniumphenyl)-6-phenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (TMA-DPH), fluorescence resonance energy transfer between the tryptophan and the probe occurred at a distance of 3.4 nm. No change in fluorescence anisotropy of either TMA-DPH or DPH was observed upon the interaction with TAT-PTD, indicating no significant disruption or perturbation of the lipid bilayer by the peptide. TAT-PTD did not cause dissipation of membrane potential (165 mV, negative inside). Inclusion of 3% pyrene-labeled phosphatidylglycerol (pyrene-PG) in the membrane revealed that TAT-PTD preferentially bound to the membrane in the liquid state. We conclude that membrane fluidity is an important physicochemical parameter, which may regulate binding of TAT-PTD to the membrane.

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