Human ?-defensin 2 kills Candida albicans through phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate-mediated membrane permeabilization.
ABSTRACT: Human defensins belong to a subfamily of the cationic antimicrobial peptides and act as a first line of defense against invading microbes. Their often broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antitumor activities make them attractive for therapeutic development; however, their precise molecular mechanism(s) of action remains to be defined. We show that human ?-defensin 2 (HBD-2) permeabilizes Candida albicans cell membranes via a mechanism targeting the plasma membrane lipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). We determined the structure of HBD-2 bound to PIP2, which revealed two distinct PIP2-binding sites, and showed, using functional assays, that mutations in these sites ablate PIP2-mediated fungal growth inhibition by HBD-2. Our study provides the first insight into lipid-mediated human defensin membrane permeabilization at an atomic level and reveals a unique mode of lipid engagement to permeabilize cell membranes.
Project description:Defensins are cationic antimicrobial peptides that serve as important components of host innate immune defenses, often by targeting cell membranes of pathogens. Oligomerization of defensins has been linked to their antimicrobial activity; however, the molecular basis underpinning this process remains largely unclear. Here we show that the plant defensin NsD7 targets the phospholipid phosphatidic acid (PA) to form oligomeric complexes that permeabilize PA-containing membranes. The crystal structure of the NsD7-PA complex reveals a striking double helix of two right-handed coiled oligomeric defensin fibrils, the assembly of which is dependent upon the interaction with PA at the interface between NsD7 dimers. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we demonstrate that key residues in this PA-binding site are required for PA-mediated NsD7 oligomerization and coil formation, as well as permeabilization of PA-containing liposomes. These data suggest that multiple lipids can be targeted to induce oligomerization of defensins during membrane permeabilization and demonstrate the existence of a "phospholipid code" that identifies target membranes for defensin-mediated attack as part of a first line of defense across multiple species.
Project description:Trypanosome lytic factor (TLF) is a subclass of human high density lipoprotein (HDL) that mediates an innate immune killing of certain mammalian trypanosomes, most notably Trypanosoma brucei brucei, the causative agent of a wasting disease in cattle. Mechanistically, killing is initiated in the lysosome of the target trypanosome where the acidic pH facilitates a membrane-disrupting activity by TLF. Here we utilize a model liposome system to characterize the membrane binding and permeabilizing activity of TLF and its protein constituents, haptoglobin-related protein (Hpr), apolipoprotein L-1 (apoL-1), and apolipoprotein A-1 (apoA-1). We show that TLF efficiently binds and permeabilizes unilamellar liposomes at lysosomal pH, whereas non-lytic human HDL exhibits inefficient permeabilizing activity. Purified, delipidated Hpr and apoL-1 both efficiently permeabilize lipid bilayers at low pH. Trypanosome lytic factor, apoL-1, and apoA-1 exhibit specificity for anionic membranes, whereas Hpr permeabilizes both anionic and zwitterionic membranes. Analysis of the relative particle sizes of susceptible liposomes reveals distinctly different membrane-active behavior for native TLF and the delipidated protein components. We propose that lysosomal membrane damage in TLF-susceptible trypanosomes is initiated by the stable association of the TLF particle with the lysosomal membrane and that this is a property unique to this subclass of human HDL.
Project description:Defensins comprise a potent class of membrane disruptive antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with well-characterized broad spectrum and selective microbicidal effects. By using high-resolution synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering to investigate interactions between heterogeneous membranes and members of the defensin subfamilies, ?-defensins (Crp-4), ?-defensins (HBD-2, HBD-3), and ?-defensins (RTD-1, BTD-7), we show how these peptides all permeabilize model bacterial membranes but not model eukaryotic membranes: defensins selectively generate saddle-splay ("negative Gaussian") membrane curvature in model membranes rich in negative curvature lipids such as those with phosphoethanolamine (PE) headgroups. These results are shown to be consistent with vesicle leakage assays. A mechanism of action based on saddle-splay membrane curvature generation is broadly enabling, because it is a necessary condition for processes such as pore formation, blebbing, budding, and vesicularization, all of which destabilize the barrier function of cell membranes. Importantly, saddle-splay membrane curvature generation places constraints on the amino acid composition of membrane disruptive peptides. For example, we show that the requirement for generating saddle-splay curvature implies that a decrease in arginine content in an AMP can be offset by an increase in both lysine and hydrophobic content. This "design rule" is consistent with the amino acid compositions of 1080 known cationic AMPs.
Project description:Cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs) such as defensins are ubiquitously found innate immune molecules that often exhibit broad activity against microbial pathogens and mammalian tumor cells. Many CAPs act at the plasma membrane of cells leading to membrane destabilization and permeabilization. In this study, we describe a novel cell lysis mechanism for fungal and tumor cells by the plant defensin NaD1 that acts via direct binding to the plasma membrane phospholipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2). We determined the crystal structure of a NaD1:PIP2 complex, revealing a striking oligomeric arrangement comprising seven dimers of NaD1 that cooperatively bind the anionic headgroups of 14 PIP2 molecules through a unique 'cationic grip' configuration. Site-directed mutagenesis of NaD1 confirms that PIP2-mediated oligomerization is important for fungal and tumor cell permeabilization. These observations identify an innate recognition system by NaD1 for direct binding of PIP2 that permeabilizes cells via a novel membrane disrupting mechanism. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01808.001.
Project description:Defensins are cationic and cysteine-rich peptides that play a crucial role in the host defense against microorganisms of many organisms by their capability to permeabilize bacterial membranes. The low sequence similarity among the members of the large mammalian beta-defensin family suggests that their antimicrobial activity is largely independent of their primary structure. To investigate to what extent these defensins share a similar fold, the structures of the two human beta-defensins, hBD-1 and hBD-2, as well as those of two novel murine defensins, termed mBD-7 and mBD-8, were determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. All four defensins investigated share a striking similarity on the level of secondary and tertiary structure including the lack of a distinct hydrophobic core, suggesting that the fold is mainly stabilized by the presence of three disulfide bonds. In addition to the overall shape of the molecules, the ratio of solvent-exposed polar and hydrophobic side chains is also very similar among the four defensins investigated. It is significant that beta-defensins do not exhibit a common pattern of charged and hydrophobic residues on the protein surface and that the beta-defensin-specific fold appears to accommodate a wide range of different amino acids at most sequence positions. In addition to the implications for the mode of biological defensin actions, these findings are of particular interest because beta-defensins have been suggested as lead compounds for the development of novel peptide antibiotics for the therapy of infectious diseases.
Project description:Human ?-defensins (hBD) play central roles in antimicrobial activities against various microorganisms and in immune-regulation. These peptides perturb phospholipid membranes for function, but it is not well understood how defensins approach, insert and finally disrupt membranes on the molecular level. Here we show that hBD-3 analogs interact with lipid bilayers through a conserved surface that is formed by two adjacent loops in the solution structure. By integrating a collection of 13C, 1H and 31P solid-state NMR methods with long-term molecular dynamic simulations, we reveal that membrane-binding rigidifies the peptide, enhances structural polymorphism, and promotes ?-strand conformation. The peptide colocalizes with negatively charged lipids, confines the headgroup motion, and deforms membrane into smaller, ellipsoidal vesicles. This study designates the residue-specific, membrane-bound topology of hBD-3 analogs, serves as the basis for further elucidating the function-relevant structure and dynamics of other defensins, and facilitates the development of defensin-mimetic antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-inflammatories.
Project description:Defensins are cationic antimicrobial peptides expressed throughout the plant and animal kingdoms as a first line of defense against pathogens. Membrane targeting and disruption is a crucial function of many defensins, however the precise mechanism remains unclear. Certain plant defensins form dimers that specifically bind the membrane phospholipids phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, thereby triggering the assembly of defensin-lipid oligomers that permeabilize cell membranes. To understand this permeabilization mechanism, here we determine the crystal structure of the plant defensin NaD1 bound to PA. The structure reveals a 20-mer that adopts a concave sheet- or carpet-like topology where NaD1 dimers form one face and PA acyl chains form the other face of the sheet. Furthermore, we show that Arg39 is critical for PA binding, oligomerization and fungal cell killing. These findings identify a putative defensin-phospholipid membrane attack configuration that supports a longstanding proposed carpet mode of membrane disruption.
Project description:Defensins are a class of ubiquitously expressed cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAPs) that play an important role in innate defense. Plant defensins are active against a broad range of microbial pathogens and act via multiple mechanisms, including cell membrane permeabilization. The cytolytic activity of defensins has been proposed to involve interaction with specific lipid components in the target cell wall or membrane and defensin oligomerization. Indeed, the defensin Nicotiana alata defensin 1 (NaD1) binds to a broad range of membrane phosphatidylinositol phosphates and forms an oligomeric complex with phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate (PIP2) that facilitates membrane lysis of both mammalian tumor and fungal cells. Here, we report that the tomato defensin TPP3 has a unique lipid binding profile that is specific for PIP2 with which it forms an oligomeric complex that is critical for cytolytic activity. Structural characterization of TPP3 by X-ray crystallography and site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that it forms a dimer in a "cationic grip" conformation that specifically accommodates the head group of PIP2 to mediate cooperative higher-order oligomerization and subsequent membrane permeabilization. These findings suggest that certain plant defensins are innate immune receptors for phospholipids and adopt conserved dimeric configurations to mediate PIP2 binding and membrane permeabilization. This mechanism of innate defense may be conserved across defensins from different species.
Project description:The outermost layer of Gram negative bacteria is composed of a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) network that forms a dense protective hydrophilic barrier against entry of hydrophobic drugs. At low ?M concentrations, a large family of cationic polypeptides known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are able to penetrate the LPS layer and permeabilize the outer membrane (OM) and the cytoplasmic membrane (CM), causing cell death. Cecropin A is a well-studied cationic AMP from moth. Here a battery of time-resolved, single-cell microscopy experiments explores how deletion of sugar layers and/or phosphoryl negative charges from the core oligosaccharide layer (core OS) of K12 E. coli alters the timing of OM and CM permeabilization induced by Cecropin A. Deletion of sugar layers, or phosphoryl charges, or both from the core OS shortens the time to the onset of OM permeabilization to periplasmic GFP and also the lag time between OM permeabilization and CM permeabilization. Meanwhile, the 12-h minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) changes only twofold with core OS alterations. The results suggest a two-step model in which the core oligosaccharide layers act as a kinetic barrier to penetration of Cecropin A to the lipid A outer leaflet of the OM. Once a threshold concentration has built up at the lipid A leaflet, nucleation occurs and the OM is locally permeabilized to GFP and, by inference, to Cecropin A. Whenever Cecropin A permeabilizes the OM, CM permeabilization always follows, and cell growth subsequently halts and never recovers on the 45?min observation timescale.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Previous studies have extensively documented antimicrobial and chemotactic activities of beta-defensins. Human beta-defensin-2 (hBD-2) is strongly expressed in lesional psoriatic epidermis, and recently we have shown that high beta-defensin genomic copy number is associated with psoriasis susceptibility. It is not known, however, if biologically and pathophysiologically relevant concentrations of hBD-2 protein are present in vivo, which could support an antimicrobial and proinflammatory role of beta-defensins in lesional psoriatic epidermis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We found that systemic levels of hBD-2 showed a weak but significant correlation with beta defensin copy number in healthy controls but not in psoriasis patients with active disease. In psoriasis patients but not in atopic dermatitis patients, we found high systemic hBD-2 levels that strongly correlated with disease activity as assessed by the PASI score. Our findings suggest that systemic levels in psoriasis are largely determined by secretion from involved skin and not by genomic copy number. Modelling of the in vivo epidermal hBD-2 concentration based on the secretion rate in a reconstructed skin model for psoriatic epidermis provides evidence that epidermal hBD-2 levels in vivo are probably well above the concentrations required for in vitro antimicrobial and chemokine-like effects. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Serum hBD-2 appears to be a useful surrogate marker for disease activity in psoriasis. The discrepancy between hBD-2 levels in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis could explain the well known differences in infection rate between these two diseases.