Roles of lipids in the cell membrane are poorly understood. This is partially due to the lack of methodologies, for example, tool chemicals that bind to specific membrane lipids and modulate membrane function. Theonellamides (TNMs), marine sponge-derived peptides, recognize 3β-hydroxysterols in lipid membranes and induce major morphological changes in cultured mammalian cells through as yet unknown mechanisms. Here, we show that TNMs recognize cholesterol-containing liquid-disordered domains and induce phase separation in model lipid membranes. Modulation of membrane order was also observed in living cells following treatment with TNM-A, in which cells shrank considerably in a cholesterol-, cytoskeleton-, and energy-dependent manner. These findings present a previously unrecognized mode of action of membrane-targeting natural products. Meanwhile, we demonstrated the importance of membrane order, which is maintained by cholesterol, for proper cell morphogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Drug Discovery
- Clinical Biochemistry