On the role of NMR spectroscopy for characterization of antimicrobial peptides

Fernando Porcelli, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy, George Barany, Gianluigi Veglia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

32 Scopus citations


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) provide a primordial source of immunity, conferring upon eukaryotic cells resistance against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Despite a few examples of anionic peptides, AMPs are usually relatively short positively charged polypeptides, consisting of a dozen to about a hundred amino acids, and exhibiting amphipathic character. Despite significant differences in their primary and secondary structures, all AMPs discovered to date share the ability to interact with cellular membranes, thereby affecting bilayer stability, disrupting membrane organization, and/or forming well-defined pores. AMPs selectively target infectious agents without being susceptible to any of the common pathways by which these acquire resistance, thereby making AMPs prime candidates to provide therapeutic alternatives to conventional drugs. However, the mechanisms of AMP actions are still a matter of intense debate. The structure-function paradigm suggests that a better understanding of how AMPs elicit their biological functions could result from atomic resolution studies of peptide-lipid interactions. In contrast, more strict thermodynamic views preclude any roles for three-dimensional structures. Indeed, the design of selective AMPs based solely on structural parameters has been challenging. In this chapter, we will focus on selected AMPs for which studies on the corresponding AMP-lipid interactions have helped reach an understanding of how AMP effects are mediated. We will emphasize the roles of both liquid- and solid-state NMR spectroscopy for elucidating the mechanisms of action of AMPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMembrane Proteins
Subtitle of host publicationFolding, Association, and Design
EditorsGiovanna Ghirlanda, Alessandro Senes
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Lipid membranes
  • Solid-state NMR
  • Solution NMR


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