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Self-assembled micellar structures of Lipopeptides with variable number of attached lipid chains revealed by atomistic molecular dynamics simulations

Zhao, L., Tu, Y., Fang, H., Hamley, I. W. and Wang, Z. (2018) Self-assembled micellar structures of Lipopeptides with variable number of attached lipid chains revealed by atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 122 (41). pp. 9605-9615. ISSN 1520-6106

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.8b07877


We present atomistic molecular dynamics simulation study of the self-assembly behavior of toll-like agonist lipopeptides (PamnCSK4) in aqueous solutions. The variable number of hexadecyl lipid chains (n = 1, 2, 3) per molecule has been experimentally suggested to have remarkable influence on their self-assembled nanostructures. Starting from pre-assembled spherical or bilayer configurations, the aggregates of lipopeptides, PamCSK4 and Pam2CSK4, which contain peptide sequences CSK4 linked to either mono- or di-lipid chains (Pam), evolve into spherical-like micelles within 30 ns, whereas the self-assembled structure of tri-lipidated lipopeptides, Pam3CSK4, relaxes much slower and reaches an equilibrium state of flattened wormlike micelle with a bilayer packing structure. The geometric shapes and sizes, namely the gyration radii of spherical micelles and thickness of the flattened wormlike micelle, are found to be in good agreement with experimental measurements, which effectively validates the simulation models and employed force fields. Detailed analyses of molecular packing reveal that these self-assembled nanostructures all consist of a hydrophobic core constructed by lipid chains, a transitional layer and a hydrophilic interfacial layer composed of peptide sequences. The average area per peptide head at the interfaces is found to be nearly constant for all micellar structures studied. The packing parameter of the lipopeptide molecules thus increases with the increase of the number of linked lipid chains, giving rise to the distinct micellar shape transition from spherical-like to flattened wormlike geometry with bilayer stacking, which is qualitatively different from the shape transitions of surfactant micelles induced by variation of concentration or salt type. To facilitate the close-packing of the lipid chains in the hydrophobic core, the lipopeptide molecules typically take the bent conformation with average tilt angles between the peptide sequences and the lipid chains ranging from 110° to 140°. This consequently affects the orientation angles of the lipid chains with respect to the radial or normal direction of the spherical-like or flattened wormlike micelles. In addition, the secondary structures of the peptides may also be altered by the number of lipid chains they are linked to and the resultant micellar structures. Our simulation results on the microscopic structural features of the lipopeptide nanostructures may provide potential insights into their bioactivities and contribute to the design of bioactive medicines or drug carriers. The force fields built for these lipopeptides and the geometric packing discussions could also be adopted for simulating and understanding the self-assembly behavior of other bioactive amiphiphiles with similar chemical compositions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Mathematics and Statistics
ID Code:79751
Publisher:American Chemical Society

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