Melittin is the principal toxic component in the venom of the European honey bee Apis mellifera and is a cationic, hemolytic peptide. It is a small linear peptide composed of 26 amino acid residues in which the amino-terminal region is predominantly hydrophobic whereas the carboxy-terminal region is hydrophilic due to the presence of a stretch of positively charged amino acids. This amphiphilic property of melittin has resulted in melittin being used as a suitable model peptide for monitoring lipid–protein interactions in membranes. In this review, the solution and membrane properties of melittin are highlighted, with an emphasis on melittin–membrane interaction using biophysical approaches. The recent applications of melittin in various cellular processes are discussed.
Abbreviations: DTPC, 1,2–ditetradecyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DMPC, 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DLPC, 1,2-dilauroyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DPhPC, 1,2-diphytanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; DOPA, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoacid; DOPC, 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine; PC, Phosphatidylcholine; PG, Phosphatidylglycerol; PEI, Poly(ethyleneimine); POPG, 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol; REES, Red edge excitation shift