Fruits and vegetables are known to possess health benefits: indeed, they contain a large number of bioactive molecules with a positive impact on human health. Dietary proteins possess specific biological properties which make these components potential ingredients of functional or health-promoting foods. Many of these properties are attributed to physiologically-active peptides encrypted in protein molecules. Kissper, a 39-residue peptide isolated from kiwi fruit (Actinidia deliciosa), derives from the processing of kiwellin, a well-represented novel allergenic protein present in the edible part of the fruit. Kissper has six cysteine residues forming three disulfide bridges. This cysteine pattern is similar, but not identical, to those observed in some plant and animal proteins, including toxins involved in defence mechanisms. We show that kissper forms ion channels in DOPS:DOPE:POPC PLMs in different media, such as KCl, potassium gluconate, potassium citrate and potassium phosphate monobasic. Kissper’s channels show a strong voltage dependence in all media used, and an estimated pore diameter in the range from 1.9 to 7.6 Å in KCl medium. Finally, kissper’s pores shift selectivity from anions to neutral to cations, depending on the nature of the salt solutions. Therefore we propose the kissper as a novel nutraceutical component of kiwi fruit that may have a positive impact on human health due to its channel-like pathways which modulate membrane permeability. The kissper action might promote the adsorption of substances, in particular, within the gastrointestinal tract, helping digestion, preventing constipation and harmful accumulation of metabolites.
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