Biochimica et biophysica acta

On the quest for the elusive mechanism of action of daptomycin: Binding, fusion, and oligomerization.

PMID 28844744


Daptomycin, sold under the trade name CUBICIN, is the first lipopeptide antibiotic to be approved for use against Gram-positive organisms, including a number of highly resistant species. Over the last few decades, a number of studies have tried to pinpoint the mechanism of action of daptomycin. These proposed modes of action often have points in common (e.g. the requirement for Ca2+ and lipid membranes containing a high proportion of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) headgroups), but also points of divergence (e.g. oligomerization in solution and in membranes, membrane perturbation vs. inhibition of cell envelope synthesis). In this study, we investigate how concentration effects may have an impact on the interpretation of the biophysical data used to support a given mechanism of action. Results obtained from small angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations show that daptomycin oligomerizes at high concentrations (both with and without Ca2+) in solution, but that this oligomer readily falls apart. Photon correlation spectroscopy (PCS) experiments demonstrate that daptomycin causes fusion more readily in DMPC/PG membranes than in POPC/PG, suggesting that the latter may be a better model system. Finally, fluorescence and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments reveal that daptomycin binds strongly to the lipid membrane and that oligomerization occurs in a concentration-dependent manner. The combined experiments provide an improved framework for more general and rigorous biophysical studies toward understanding the elusive mechanism of action of daptomycin. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Biophysics in Canada, edited by Lewis Kay, John Baenziger, Albert Berghuis and Peter Tieleman.