Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.293, No.4, 1153-1160, 2002
Viral fusion peptides and identification of membrane-interacting segments
Viral envelope glycoproteins promote infection by mediating fusion between viral and cellular membranes. Fusion occurs after dramatic conformational changes within fusion proteins, leading to the exposure of a short stretch of mostly apolar residues, termed the fusion peptide, which is presumed to insert into the membrane and initiate the fusion process. The typical global composition of fusion peptides, rich in hydrophobic but also in small amino acids such as alanine and glycine, was used here as bait to detect other peptidic segments that can insert into membranes. We so evidenced a similar composition in several cytotoxic peptides, which promote pore formation such as peptides involved in amyloidoses and hydrophobic alpha-hairpins of pore-formimg toxins. It is suggested that the structural plasticity observed for several membrane active peptides can be conferred by this particular global amino acid composition, which could be thus used to predict such functional behavior from genome data. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.