The membrane translocation efficiency of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) has been largely studied, and poly-arginines have been highlighted as particularly active CPPs, especially upon negatively charged membranes. Here we inquire about the influence of membrane mechanical properties in poly-arginine adsorption, penetration and translocation, as well as the subsequent effect on the host membrane. For this, we selected anionic membranes exhibiting different rigidity and fluidity, and exposed them to the nona-arginine KR9
C. Three different membrane compositions were investigated, all of them having 50% of the anionic lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phospho-(1’-rac-glycerol) (DOPG), thus, ensuring a high affinity of the peptide for membrane surfaces. The remaining 50% was a saturated PC (1,2-dipalmitoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, DPPC), an unsaturated PC (1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, DOPC) or a mixture of DOPC with cholesterol. Peptide-membrane interactions were studied using four complementary models for membranes: Langmuir monolayers, Large Unilamellar Vesicles, Black Lipid Membranes and Giant Unilamellar Vesicles. The patterns of interaction of KR9
C varied within the different membrane compositions. The peptide strongly adsorbed on membranes with cholesterol, but did not incorporate or translocate them. KR9
C stabilized phase segregation in DPPC/DOPG films and promoted vesicle rupture. DOPC/DOPG appeared like the better host for peptide translocation: KR9
C adsorbed, inserted and translocated these membranes without breaking them, despite softening was observed.
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