Adsorption, Folding, and Packing of an Amphiphilic Peptide at the Air/Water Interface

2016-02-22T05:02:22Z (GMT) by Ozge Engin Mehmet Sayar
Peptide oligomers play an essential role as model compounds for identifying key motifs in protein structure formation and protein aggregation. Here, we present our results, based on extensive molecular dynamics simulations, on adsorption, folding, and packing within a surface monolayer of an amphiphilic peptide at the air/water interface. Experimental results suggest that these molecules spontaneously form ordered monolayers at the interface, adopting a β-hairpin-like structure within the surface layer. Our results reveal that the β-hairpin structure can be observed both in bulk and at the air/water interface. However, the presence of an interface leads to ideal partitioning of the hydrophobic and hydrophilic residues, and therefore reduces the conformational space for the molecule and increases the stability of the hairpin structure. We obtained the adsorption free energy of a single β-hairpin at the air/water interface, and analyzed the enthalpic and entropic contributions. The adsorption process is favored by two main factors: (1) Free-energy reduction due to desolvation of the hydrophobic side chains of the peptide and release of the water molecules which form a cage around these hydrophobic groups in bulk water. (2) Reduction of the total air/water contact area at the interface upon adsorption of the peptide amphiphile. By performing mutations on the original molecule, we demonstrated the relative role of key design features of the peptide. Finally, by analyzing the potential of mean force among two peptides at the interface, we investigated possible packing mechanisms for these molecules within the surface monolayer.