Alamethicin and related α-aminoisobutyric acid peptides form transmembrane channels across lipid bilayers. This article briefly reviews studies on the effect of alamethicin on lipid phase transitions in lipid bilayers and on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Fluorescence polarization studies, employing 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene as a probe, suggest that alamethicin fluidizes lipid bilayers below the phase transition t-emperature, but has little effect above the gel-liquid crystal transition point. Alamethicin is shown to function as an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation in rat liver mitochondria. The influence of alamethicin on mitochondrial respiration is modulated by the phosphate ion concentration in the medium. Classical uncoupling activity is evident at low phosphate levels while inhibitory effects set in at higher phosphate concentrations. Time-dependent changes in respiration rates following peptide addition are rationalized in terms of alamethicin interactions with mitochondrial membrane components.
Volume 45, 2020
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