Nucleation in mesoscopic systems under transient conditions: Peptide-induced pore formation in vesicles
Journal article, 2013
Attachment of lytic peptides to the lipid membrane of virions or bacteria is often accompanied by their aggregation and pore formation, resulting eventually in membrane rupture and pathogen neutralization. The membrane rupture may occur gradually via formation of many pores or abruptly after the formation of the first pore. In academic studies, this process is observed during interaction of peptides with lipid vesicles. We present an analytical model and the corresponding Monte Carlo simulations focused on the pore formation in such situations. Specifically, we calculate the time of the first nucleation-limited pore-formation event and show the distribution of this time in the regime when the fluctuations of the number of peptides attached to a vesicle are appreciable. The results obtained are used to clarify the mechanism of the pore formation and membrane destabilization observed recently during interaction of highly active alpha-helical peptide with sub-100-nm lipid vesicles that mimic enveloped viruses with nanoscale membrane curvature. The model proposed and the analysis presented are generic and may be applicable to other meso- and nanosystems.