Folding of Lipid Monolayers Containing Lung Surfactant Proteins SP-B1-25 and SP-C Studied via Coarse-Grained Molecular Dynamics Simulations

Ron Larson (April 28, 2011)

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We utilize the MARTINI coarse-grained force field to simulate lipid monolayers during the compression and re-expansion, to determine the effect of monolayer components on lung surfactant functioning. Our simulated monolayers contain pure dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and DPPC mixed with palmitoyloleoylphosphatidylglycerol (POPG), palmitic acid (PA), and/or peptides. The peptides considered include the 25-residue N-terminal fragment of SP-B (SP-B1-25), SP-C, and several SP-B1-25 mutants in which charged and hydrophilic residues are replaced by hydrophobic ones, or vice-versa. We observe two folding mechanisms: folding by the amplification of undulations and folding by nucleation about a defect. The first mechanism is observed in monolayers containing either POPG or peptides, while the second mechanism is observed only with peptides present, and involves the lipid-mediated aggregation of the peptides into a defect, from which the fold can nucleate. Fold nucleation from a defect displays a dependence on the hydrophobic character of the peptides; if the number of hydrophobic residues is decreased significantly, monolayer folding does not occur. The addition of POPG or peptides to the DPPC monolayer has a fluidizing effect, which assists monolayer folding. In contrast, the addition of PA has a charge-dependent condensing affect on DPPC monolayers containing SP-C. The peptides appear to play a significant role in the folding process, and provide a larger driving force for folding than POPG. In addition to promoting fold formation, the peptides also display fusogenic behavior, which can lead to surface refining.