Cationic antimicrobial peptides do not change recombination frequency in Escherichia coli.
ABSTRACT: Cationic antimicrobial peptides are ubiquitous immune effectors of multicellular organisms. We previously reported, that in contrast to most of the classic antibiotics, cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) do not increase mutation rates in E. coli Here, we provide new evidence showing that AMPs do not stimulate or enhance bacterial DNA recombination in the surviving fractions. Recombination accelerates evolution of antibiotic resistance. Our findings have implications for our understanding of host-microbe interactions, the evolution of innate immune defences, and shed new light on the dynamic of antimicrobial-resistance evolution.
Project description:Cationic antimicrobial peptides are ancient and ubiquitous immune effectors that multicellular organisms use to kill and police microbes whereas antibiotics are mostly employed by microorganisms. As antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) mostly target the cell wall, a microbial 'Achilles heel', it has been proposed that bacterial resistance evolution is very unlikely and hence AMPs are ancient 'weapons' of multicellular organisms. Here we provide a new hypothesis to explain the widespread distribution of AMPs amongst multicellular organism. Studying five antimicrobial peptides from vertebrates and insects, we show, using a classic Luria-Delbrück fluctuation assay, that cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) do not increase bacterial mutation rates. Moreover, using rtPCR and disc diffusion assays we find that AMPs do not elicit SOS or rpoS bacterial stress pathways. This is in contrast to the main classes of antibiotics that elevate mutagenesis via eliciting the SOS and rpoS pathways. The notion of the 'Achilles heel' has been challenged by experimental selection for AMP-resistance, but our findings offer a new perspective on the evolutionary success of AMPs. Employing AMPs seems advantageous for multicellular organisms, as it does not fuel the adaptation of bacteria to their immune defenses. This has important consequences for our understanding of host-microbe interactions, the evolution of innate immune defenses, and also sheds new light on antimicrobial resistance evolution and the use of AMPs as drugs.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been an area of great interest, due to the high selectivity of these molecules toward bacterial targets over host cells and the limited development of bacterial resistance to these molecules throughout evolution. The peptide C18G has been shown to be a selective, broad spectrum AMP with a net +8 cationic charge from seven lysine residues in the sequence. In this work, the cationic Lys residues were replaced with other natural or non-proteinogenic cationic amino acids: arginine, histidine, ornithine, or diaminopropionic acid. These changes vary in the structure of the amino acid side chain, the identity of the cationic moiety, and the pKa of the cationic group. Using a combination of spectroscopic and microbiological methods, the influence of these cationic groups on membrane binding, secondary structure, and antibacterial activity was investigated. The replacement of Lys with most other cationic residues had, at most, 2-fold effects on minimal inhibitory concentration against a variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. However, the peptide containing His as the cationic group showed dramatically reduced activity. All peptide variants retained the ability to bind lipid vesicles and showed clear preference for binding vesicles that contained anionic lipids. Similarly, all peptides adopted a helical conformation when bound to lipids or membrane mimetics, although the peptide containing diaminopropionic acid exhibited a decreased helicity. The peptides exhibited a wider variety of activity in the permeabilization of bacterial membranes, with peptides containing Lys, Arg, or Orn being the most broadly active. In all, the antibacterial activity of the C18G peptide is generally tolerant to changes in the structure and identity of the cationic amino acids, yielding new possibilities for design and development of AMPs that may be less susceptible to immune and bacterial recognition or in vivo degradation.
Project description:Many organisms rely on antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as a first line of defense against pathogens. In general, most AMPs are thought to kill bacteria by binding to and disrupting cell membranes. However, certain AMPs instead appear to inhibit biomacromolecule synthesis, while causing less membrane damage. Despite an unclear understanding of mechanism(s), there is considerable interest in mimicking AMPs with stable, synthetic molecules. Antimicrobial N-substituted glycine (peptoid) oligomers ("ampetoids") are structural, functional and mechanistic analogs of helical, cationic AMPs, which offer broad-spectrum antibacterial activity and better therapeutic potential than peptides. Here, we show through quantitative studies of membrane permeabilization, electron microscopy, and soft X-ray tomography that both AMPs and ampetoids trigger extensive and rapid non-specific aggregation of intracellular biomacromolecules that correlates with microbial death. We present data demonstrating that ampetoids are "fast killers", which rapidly aggregate bacterial ribosomes in vitro and in vivo. We suggest intracellular biomass flocculation is a key mechanism of killing for cationic, amphipathic AMPs, which may explain why most AMPs require micromolar concentrations for activity, show significant selectivity for killing bacteria over mammalian cells, and finally, why development of resistance to AMPs is less prevalent than developed resistance to conventional antibiotics.
Project description:The dlt operon encodes proteins that alanylate teichoic acids, the major components of cell walls of gram-positive bacteria. This generates a net positive charge on bacterial cell walls, repulsing positively charged molecules and conferring resistance to animal and human cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in gram-positive pathogenic bacteria. AMPs damage the bacterial membrane and are the most effective components of the humoral immune response against bacteria. We investigated the role of the dlt operon in insect virulence by inactivating this operon in Bacillus cereus, which is both an opportunistic human pathogen and an insect pathogen. The Delta dlt(Bc) mutant displayed several morphological alterations but grew at a rate similar to that for the wild-type strain. This mutant was less resistant to protamine and several bacterial cationic AMPs, such as nisin, polymyxin B, and colistin, in vitro. It was also less resistant to molecules from the insect humoral immune system, lysozyme, and cationic AMP cecropin B from Spodoptera frugiperda. Delta dlt(Bc) was as pathogenic as the wild-type strain in oral infections of Galleria mellonella but much less virulent when injected into the hemocoels of G. mellonella and Spodoptera littoralis. We detected the dlt operon in three gram-negative genera: Erwinia (Erwinia carotovora), Bordetella (Bordetella pertussis, Bordetella parapertussis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica), and Photorhabdus (the entomopathogenic bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens TT01, the dlt operon of which did not restore cationic AMP resistance in Delta dlt(Bc)). We suggest that the dlt operon protects B. cereus against insect humoral immune mediators, including hemolymph cationic AMPs, and may be critical for the establishment of lethal septicemia in insects and in nosocomial infections in humans.
Project description:Cationic antimicrobial peptides/proteins (AMPs) are important components of the host innate defense mechanisms against invading microorganisms. Here we demonstrate that OprI (outer membrane protein I) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for its susceptibility to human ribonuclease 7 (hRNase 7) and alpha-helical cationic AMPs, instead of surface lipopolysaccharide, which is the initial binding site of cationic AMPs. The antimicrobial activities of hRNase 7 and alpha-helical cationic AMPs against P. aeruginosa were inhibited by the addition of exogenous OprI or anti-OprI antibody. On modification and internalization of OprI by hRNase 7 into cytosol, the bacterial membrane became permeable to metabolites. The lipoprotein was predicted to consist of an extended loop at the N terminus for hRNase 7/lipopolysaccharide binding, a trimeric alpha-helix, and a lysine residue at the C terminus for cell wall anchoring. Our findings highlight a novel mechanism of antimicrobial activity and document a previously unexplored target of alpha-helical cationic AMPs, which may be used for screening drugs to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Scorpion venom is a source of bioactive peptides, and some antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been found in the venom gland of scorpions. Therefore, the discovery of new anti-infective agents is an essential need to overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance of clinical isolates. Here, we describe three new cationic AMPs, including meuVAP-6, meuAP-18-1, and meuPep34 from the venom gland of the Iranian scorpion, Mesobuthus eupeus. METHODS:The cDNA sequences encoding all the three peptides were obtained from the cDNA library of scorpion venom gland and were deposited in the GenBank database. RESULTS:MeuVAP-6 and meuAP-18-1 are non-disulphide-bridged antimicrobial peptides, while meuPep34 is a cysteine-rich defensin-like peptide. DISCUSSION:All three identified AMPs are rich in arginine and tryptophan. The overall results from the length, net charge, and hydrophobicity index suggested that meuPep34 could be the most active AMPs with the potential ability of biofilm inhibition. The data from molecular characterization of identified AMPs can provide a platform for further investigations in the drug design.
Project description:Cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are active immune effectors of multicellular organisms and are also considered as new antimicrobial drug candidates. One of the problems encountered when developing AMPs as drugs is the difficulty of reaching sufficient killing concentrations under physiological conditions. Here, using pexiganan, a cationic peptide derived from a host defense peptide of the African clawed frog and the first AMP developed into an antibacterial drug, we studied whether sub-lethal effects of AMPs can be harnessed to devise treatment combinations. We studied the pexiganan stress response of Staphylococcus aureus at sub-lethal concentrations using quantitative proteomics. Several proteins involved in nucleotide metabolism were elevated, suggesting a metabolic demand. We then show that Staphylococcus aureus is highly susceptible to antimetabolite nucleoside analogs when exposed to pexiganan, even at sub-inhibitory concentrations. These findings could be used to enhance pexiganan potency while decreasing the risk of resistance emergence, and our findings can likely be extended to other antimicrobial peptides.
Project description:The evolution of resistance against antimicrobial peptides has long been considered unlikely due to their mechanism of action, yet experimental selection with antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) results in rapid evolution of resistance in several species of bacteria. Although numerous studies have utilized mutant screens to identify loci that determine AMP susceptibility, there is a dearth of data concerning the genomic changes that accompany experimental evolution of AMP resistance. Using genome resequencing, we analyzed the mutations that arose during experimental evolution of resistance to the cationic AMPs iseganan, melittin, and pexiganan, as well as to a combination of melittin and pexiganan, or to the aminoglycoside antibiotic streptomycin. Analysis of 17 independently replicated Staphylococcus aureus selection lines, including unselected controls, showed that each AMP selected for mutations at distinct loci. We identify mutations in genes involved in the synthesis and maintenance of the cell envelope. These include genes previously identified from mutant screens for AMP resistance, and genes involved in the response to AMPs and cell-wall-active antibiotics. Furthermore, transposon insertion mutants were used to verify that a number of the identified genes are directly involved in determining AMP susceptibility. Strains selected for AMP resistance under controlled experimental evolution displayed consistent AMP-specific mutations in genes that determine AMP susceptibility. This suggests that different routes to evolve resistance are favored within a controlled genetic background.
Project description:With a diminishing number of effective antibiotics, there has been interest in developing antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as drugs. However, any new drug faces potential bacterial resistance evolution. Here, we experimentally compare resistance evolution in Staphylococcus aureus selected by three AMPs (from mammals, amphibians and insects), a combination of two AMPs, and two antibiotics: the powerful last-resort vancomycin and the classic streptomycin. We find that resistance evolves readily against single AMPs and against streptomycin, with no detectable fitness cost. However the response to selection from our combination of AMPs led to extinction, in a fashion qualitatively similar to vancomycin. This is consistent with the hypothesis that simultaneous release of multiple AMPs during immune responses is a factor which constrains evolution of AMP resistant pathogens.
Project description:In this study, we report the antimicrobial and hemolytic activities of ternary statistical methacrylate copolymers consisting of cationic ammonium (amino-ethyl methacrylate: AEMA), hydrophobic alkyl (ethyl methacrylate: EMA), and neutral hydroxyl (hydroxyethyl methacrylate: HEMA) side chain monomers. The cationic and hydrophobic functionalities of copolymers mimic the cationic amphiphilicity of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The HEMA monomer units were used to separately modulate the compositions of cationic and hydrophobic monomers, and we investigated the effect of each component on the antimicrobial and hemolytic activities of copolymers. Our data indicated that increasing the number of cationic groups of the copolymers to be more than 30 mol % did not increase their antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli. The number of cationic side chains in a polymer chain at this threshold is 5.5-7.7, which is comparable to those of natural antimicrobial peptides such as maginin (+6). The MIC values of copolymers with >30 mol % of AEMA depend on only the mol % of EMA, indicating that the hydrophobic interactions of the copolymers with E. coli cell membranes determine the antimicrobial activity of copolymers. These results suggest that the roles of cationic and hydrophobic groups can be controlled independently by design in the ternary copolymers studied here.