Augmentation of the antibacterial activities of Pt5-derived antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) by amino acid substitutions: Design of novel AMPs against MDR bacteria

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The ever-growing concerns on multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria lead to urgent demands for novel antibiotics including antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Pt5, a peptide consisting of the C-terminal 55 residues of zebrafish phosvitin, has been shown to function as an antibacterial agent. Here we used Pt5 as a template to design new AMPs by shortening the sequence and substituting with tryptophan (W) and lysine (K) at selected positions. Among the resultant Pt5-derived peptides, Pt5-1c showed the strongest antimicrobial activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including MDR bacteia, with the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) ranging from 1.2 μM to 4.8 μM. Electron microscopic examination showed that Pt5-1c was able to kill the bacteria directly. ELISA revealed that Pt5-1c possessed high affinity to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), lipoteichoic acid (LTA) and peptidoglycan (PGN). Importantly, Pt5-1c was able to disrupt the bacterial membrane by a combined action of membrane depolarization and permeabilization, with little cytotoxicity to mammalian cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that Pt5-1c has considerable potential for future development as novel peptide antibiotics against MDR bacteria.

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