Theonellamides, natural products from marine sponges, bind to membrane cholesterol and disturb cell membrane order

May 25, 2015

A promising chemical tool for functional analysis of cell membrane order

Joint research led by RIKEN CSRS has revealed that naturally occurring peptides from marine sponges called theonellamides (TNMs) modulate fluidity in cell membranes by binding to cholesterol and induce drastic changes in cell morphology.

Previously, the same group had elucidated that TNMs bind membrane sterols such as cholesterol and ergosterol. This time, researchers used TNMs as chemical genetics tools to examine the nature of the lipid membrane, revealing that TNMs specifically recognize cholesterol in an area called the liquid-disordered domain, where the structure of lipids have a low level of order. TNM modulated fluidity in both model lipid membranes and cellular membranes, inducing major morphological changes.

These results explicate a portion of the functions of cell-membrane fluidity and indicate successful manipulation of cell membrane fluidity.


Original article
Chemistry & Biology doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2015.04.011
Y. Arita, S. Nishimura, R. Ishitsuka, T. Kishimoto, J. Ikenouchi, K. Ishii, M. Umeda, S. Matsunaga, T. Kobayashi, M. Yoshida,
"Targeting cholesterol in liquid-disordered environment by theonellamides modulates cell membrane order and cell shape".

Minoru Yoshida; Group Director
Yuko Arita; Visiting Scientist
Chemical Genomics Research Group