Orientation and Location of the Cyclotide Kalata B1 in Lipid Bilayers Revealed by Solid-State NMR

Biophys J. 2017 Feb 28;112(4):630-642. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.12.040.


Cyclotides are ultra-stable cyclic disulfide-rich peptides from plants. Their biophysical effects and medically interesting activities are related to their membrane-binding properties, with particularly high affinity for phosphatidylethanolamine lipids. In this study we were interested in understanding the molecular details of cyclotide-membrane interactions, specifically with regard to the spatial orientation of the cyclotide kalata B1 from Oldenlandia affinis when embedded in a lipid bilayer. Our experimental approach was based on the use of solid-state 19F-NMR of oriented bilayers in conjunction with the conformationally restricted amino acid L-3-(trifluoromethyl)bicyclopent-[1.1.1]-1-ylglycine as an orientation-sensitive 19F-NMR probe. Its rigid connection to the kalata B1 backbone scaffold, together with the well-defined structure of the cyclotide, allowed us to calculate the protein alignment in the membrane directly from the orientation-sensitive 19F-NMR signal. The hydrophobic and polar residues on the surface of kalata B1 form well-separated patches, endowing this cyclotide with a pronounced amphipathicity. The peptide orientation, as determined by NMR, showed that this amphipathic structure matches the polar/apolar interface of the lipid bilayer very well. A location in the amphiphilic headgroup region of the bilayer was supported by 15N-NMR of uniformly labeled protein, and confirmed using solid-state 31P- and 2H-NMR. 31P-NMR relaxation data indicated a change in lipid headgroup dynamics induced by kalata B1. Changes in the 2H-NMR order parameter profile of the acyl chains suggest membrane thinning, as typically observed for amphiphilic peptides embedded near the polar/apolar bilayer interface. Furthermore, from the 19F-NMR analysis two important charged residues, E7 and R28, were found to be positioned equatorially. The observed location thus would be favorable for the postulated binding of E7 to phosphatidylethanolamine lipid headgroups. Furthermore, it may be speculated that this pair of side chains could promote oligomerization of kalata B1 through electrostatic intermolecular contacts via their complementary charges.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cyclotides / chemistry*
  • Cyclotides / metabolism*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oldenlandia / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation


  • Cyclotides
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • kalata B1