We analyzed the thermodynamic and structural determinants of indolicidin interactions with eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell membranes using a series of atomistically detailed molecular dynamics simulations. We used quartz-supported bilayers with two different compositions of zwitterionic and anionic phospholipids as model eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell membranes. Indolicidin was preferentially attracted to the model prokaryotic cell membrane in contrast to the weak adsorption on the eukaryotic membrane. The nature of the indolicidin surface adsorption depended on an electrostatic guiding component, an attractive enthalpic component derived from van der Waals interactions, and a balance between entropic factors related to peptide confinement at the interface and counterion release from the bilayer surface. Thus, whereas we attributed the specificity of the indolicidin/membrane interaction to electrostatics, these interactions were not the sole contributors to the free energy of adsorption. Instead, a balance between an attractive van der Waals enthalpic component and a repulsive entropic component determined the overall strength of indolicidin adsorption.
© 2012 American Chemical Society