Membrane active Janus-oligomers of β3-peptides†
Self-assembling peptides offer a versatile set of tools for bottom-up construction of supramolecular biomaterials. Among these compounds, non-natural peptidic foldamers experience increased focus due to their structural variability and lower sensitivity to enzymatic degradation. However, very little is known about their membrane properties and complex oligomeric assemblies – key areas for biomedical and technological applications. Here we designed short, acyclic β3-peptide sequences with alternating amino acid stereoisomers to obtain non-helical molecules having hydrophilic charged residues on one side, and hydrophobic residues on the other side, with the N-terminus preventing formation of infinite fibrils. Our results indicate that these β-peptides form small oligomers both in water and in lipid bilayers and are stabilized by intermolecular hydrogen bonds. In the presence of model membranes, they either prefer the headgroup regions or they insert between the lipid chains. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations suggest the formation of two-layered bundles with their side chains facing opposite directions when compared in water and in model membranes. Analysis of the MD calculations showed hydrogen bonds inside each layer, however, not between the layers, indicating a dynamic assembly. Moreover, the aqueous form of these oligomers can host fluorescent probes as well as a hydrophobic molecule similarly to e.g. lipid transfer proteins. For the tested, peptides the mixed chirality pattern resulted in similar assemblies despite sequential differences. Based on this, it is hoped that the presented molecular framework will inspire similar oligomers with diverse functionality.