Interaction of the N-terminus of sterol carrier protein 2 with membranes: role of membrane curvature. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although neither the physiological function nor the mechanism of action of sterol carrier protein 2 (SCP(2)) is yet completely clear, it is thought that SCP(2) interacts with membranes to elicit its biological effects. The results presented here show that the SCP(2) N-terminus, composed of two amphipathic alpha-helices, interacted preferentially with highly curved but not lower-curvature membranes containing anionic phospholipid. CD spectra of SCP(2) showed up to 1. 2-fold increased alpha-helical content, on the interaction of SCP(2) with small unilamellar vesicles (SUV) (median radius 10-14 nm) but less with large unilamellar vesicles (LUV) (median radius 52-60 nm). Although enhanced interaction with the SUV membranes was due in part to the radius of curvature and to the greater exposure of acidic phospholipid in the outer leaflet of the bilayer, simply increasing the molar percentage of acidic phospholipid in the LUV membranes had much less effect on SCP(2) binding. A similar preferential interaction was observed with highly curved SUV as opposed to LUV for the SCP(2) N-terminal peptide (1-32)SCP(2) as well as structurally modified peptides in the order (1-32)SCP(2)=(10-32)SCP(2)>(1-24)SCP(2)>>(1-E20-32)SCP(2). The CD results were confirmed with an independent filtration binding assay, which showed that SCP(2) bound 5-fold more to SUV than LUV, whereas its N-terminal peptides bound up to 4-fold better in the order (1-32)SCP(2)=(10-32)SCP(2)>(1-24)SCP(2)>(1-E20-32)SCP(2). Finally, cholesterol potentiated the binding of SCP(2) and N-terminal peptides to anionic-phospholipid-containing SUV but not LUV. These findings were consistent with the SCP(2) N-terminus being a membrane-binding domain that was highly dependent on membrane surface curvature as well as on lipid composition.

author list (cited authors)

  • Huang, H., Ball, J. M., Billheimer, J. T., & Schroeder, F.

publication date

  • January 1, 1999 11:11 AM