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Daptomycin inhibits cell envelope synthesis by interfering with fluid membrane microdomains

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Henrik Strahl von SchultenORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Daptomycin is a highly efficient last-resort antibiotic that targets the bacterial cell membrane. Despite its clinical importance, the exact mechanism by which daptomycin kills bacteria is not fully understood. Different experiments have led to different models, including (i) blockage of cell wall synthesis, (ii) membrane pore formation, and (iii) the generation of altered membrane curvature leading to aberrant recruitment of proteins. To determine which model is correct, we carried out a comprehensive mode-of-action study using the model organism Bacillus subtilis and different assays, including proteomics, ionomics, and fluorescence light microscopy. We found that daptomycin causes a gradual decrease in membrane potential but does not form discrete membrane pores. Although we found no evidence for altered membrane curvature, we confirmed that daptomycin inhibits cell wall synthesis. Interestingly, using different fluorescent lipid probes, we showed that binding of daptomycin led to a drastic rearrangement of fluid lipid domains, affecting overall membrane fluidity. Importantly, these changes resulted in the rapid detachment of the membrane-associated lipid II synthase MurG and the phospholipid synthase PlsX. Both proteins preferentially colocalize with fluid membrane microdomains. Delocalization of these proteins presumably is a key reason why daptomycin blocks cell wall synthesis. Finally, clustering of fluid lipids by daptomycin likely causes hydrophobic mismatches between fluid and more rigid membrane areas. This mismatch can facilitate proton leakage and may explain the gradual membrane depolarization observed with daptomycin. Targeting of fluid lipid domains has not been described before for antibiotics and adds another dimension to our understanding of membrane-active antibiotics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Müller A, Wenzel M, Strahl H, Grein F, Saaki TNV, Kohl B, Siersma T, Bandow JE, Sahl H-G, Schneider T, Hamoen LW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Year: 2016

Volume: 113

Issue: 45

Pages: E7077-E7086

Online publication date: 24/10/2016

Acceptance date: 20/09/2016

Date deposited: 10/01/2017

ISSN (print): 0027-8424

ISSN (electronic): 1091-6490

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences


DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1611173113


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Funder referenceFunder name
German Center for Infection Research
European Union (European Regional Development Fund)
German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia
105617/Z/14/ZWellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Funds
SCHN 1284/1-2German Research Foundation
STW-Vici 12128Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research