NMR structure of the cathelicidin-derived human antimicrobial peptide LL-37 in dodecylphosphocholine micelles

Fernando Porcelli, Raffaello Verardi, Lei Shi, Katherine A. Henzler-Wildman, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, Gianluigi Veglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


LL-37 is the only cathelicidin-derived polypeptide found in humans. Its eclectic function makes this peptide one of the most intriguing chemical defense agents, with crucial roles in moderating inflammation, promoting wound healing, and boosting the human immune system. LL-37 kills both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells through physical interaction with cell membranes. In order to study its active conformation in membranes, we have reconstituted LL-37 into dodecylphosphocholine (DPC) micelles and determined its three-dimensional structure. We found that, under our experimental conditions, this peptide adopts a helix-break-helix conformation. Both the N- and C-termini are unstructured and solvent exposed. The N-terminal helical domain is more dynamic, while the C-terminal helix is more solvent protected and structured (high density of NOEs, slow H/D exchange). When it interacts with DPC, LL-37 is adsorbed on the surface of the micelle with the hydrophilic face exposed to the water phase and the hydrophobic face buried in the micelle hydrocarbon region. The break between the helices is positioned at K12 and is probably stabilized by a hydrophobic cluster formed by I13, F17, and I20 in addition to a salt bridge between K12 and E16. These results support the proposed nonpore carpet-like mechanism of action, in agreement with the solid-state NMR studies, and pave the way for understanding the function of the mature LL-37 at the atomic level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5565-5572
Number of pages8
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 20 2008


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