Interaction of wasp venom mastoparan with biomembranes

Takashi Katsu, Masakazu Kuroko, Takayo Morikawa, Kozo Sanchika, Hiroyasu Yamanaka, Sumio Shinoda, Yuzaburo Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Mastoparan-induced changes in the K+ permeability of rat peritoneal mast cells, human erythrocytes, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli were examined. Mastoparan did not efficiently increase the K+ permeability of cells except for S. aureus. The release of membrane phospholipids was also observed from S. aureus cells in the concentration range of the permeability enhancement. Mastoparan stimulated histamine release from mast cells, independently of a small efflux of K+. Mastoparan became markedly effective to E. coli cells whose outer membrane structure was chemically disrupted beforehand, showing that the peptide can enhance the permeability of the cytoplasmic membranes of both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. In experiments using liposomes, mastoparan increased the permeability of the liposomes composed of egg phosphatidylethanolamine and egg phosphatidylglycerol, which are the lipid constituents of the cytoplasmic membrane of E. coli cells, while it showed a weak activity to the liposomes composed of egg phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol. The latter result related closely to the fact that this peptide acted weakly on erythrocytes and mast cells in which acidic lipids constitute a minor portion. Mastoparan decreased the phase transition temperature of dipalmitoylphosphatidylglycerol liposomes, but it did not affect that of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine liposomes. These results indicate that mastoparan penetrated into membranes mainly containing acidic phospholipids and disrupted the membrane structure to increase the permeability. The action of the wasp venom mastoparan was compared with that of a bee venom melittin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 24 1990


  • Biologically active peptide
  • Histamine release
  • Mastoparan
  • Melittin
  • Membrane fluidity
  • Membrane permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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