ABSTRACT: 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:Pexiganan, a 22-amino-acid synthetic cationic peptide, is currently in phase 3 clinical trials as a topical antimicrobial agent for the treatment of mild infections associated with diabetic foot ulcers. Bacterial isolates from the 2013 SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program designated as pathogens from diabetic foot infections (DFI) and Gram-negative and -positive pathogens from various infection types that harbored selected resistance mechanisms/phenotypes were tested against pexiganan in reference cation-adjusted Mueller-Hinton broth. The MIC50 and MIC90 against all organisms tested from DFI were 16 and 32 μg/ml, respectively. Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Citrobacter koseri, Enterobacter cloacae, Acinetobacter species, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa MIC values ranged from 8 to 16 μg/ml. Pexiganan MIC values among Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA] and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus [MSSA]), beta-hemolytic streptococci, and Enterococcus faecium ranged from 8 to 32 μg/ml. Pexiganan activity was not adversely affected for members of the family Enterobacteriaceae or P. aeruginosa that produced β-lactamases or resistance mechanisms to other commonly used antimicrobial agents. Decreased susceptibility to vancomycin did not affect pexiganan activity against S. aureus or E. faecium. Enterococcus faecalis appears to be intrinsically less susceptible to pexiganan (MIC, 32 to 256 μg/ml). The "all organism" MIC90 of 32 μg/ml for pexiganan in this study was >250-fold below the pexiganan concentration in the cream/delivery vehicle being developed for topical use.
Project description:We describe a novel prokaryotic expression system for the production of cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The method relies on a translationally coupled two-cistron system, in which the termination codon for the first cistron (which encodes the anionic polypeptide mIFc2, a derivative of human gamma interferon) overlaps with the initiation codon for the second cistron (which encodes a cationic AMP) in the sequence of 5'-TAATG-3'. By forming an insoluble complex with the AMP upon translation, the mIFc2 protein efficiently neutralized the toxicity of the coexpressed cationic AMP and minimized the sensitivity of AMP to proteolytic degradation in a host. The AMPs were retrieved from the insoluble inclusion bodies without any chemical or enzymatic cleavage step by simple cation-exchange chromatography. With our system, approximately 100 mg of various AMPs (buforin IIb, parasin I, and pexiganan) were obtained from 1 liter of Escherichia coli culture. Our expression system may represent a universal cost-effective solution for the mass production of intact AMPs in their natural forms.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have significant potential as alternatives to classical antibiotics. However, AMPs are currently prepared using processes which are often laborious, expensive and of low-yield, thus hindering their research and application. Large-scale methods for production of AMPs using a cost-effective approach is urgently required. In this study, we report a scalable, chromatography-free downstream processing method for producing an antimicrobial peptide, pexiganan, using recombinant Escherichia coli (E. coli). The four helix bundle structure of the unique carrier protein DAMP4 was used to facilitate a simple and cheap purification process based on a selective thermochemical precipitation. Highly pure fusion protein DAMP4var-pexiganan was obtained at high yield (around 24 mg per 800 mL cell culture with a final cultivation OD600 ~ 2). The purification yield of DAMP4var-pexiganan protein is increased twofold with a 72.9% of the protein recovery in this study as compared to the previous purification processes (Dwyer in Chem Eng Sci 105:12-21, 2014). The antimicrobial peptide pexiganan was released and activated from the fusion protein by a simple acid-cleavage. Isoelectric precipitation was then applied to separate the pexiganan peptide from the DAMP4var protein carrier. The final yield of pure bio-produced pexiganan was 1.6 mg from 800 mL of bacterial cell culture (final cultivation OD600 ~ 2). The minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) test demonstrated that the bio-produced pexiganan has the same antimicrobial activity as chemically synthesized counterpart. This novel downstream process provides a new strategy for simple and probable economic production of antimicrobial peptides.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Membrane-active antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are interesting candidates for the development of novel antimicrobials. Although their effects were extensively investigated in model membrane systems, interactions of AMPs with living microbial membranes are less known due to their complexity. The aim of the present study was to develop a rapid fluorescence-based microplate assay to analyze the membrane effects of AMPs in whole Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. METHODS:Bacteria were exposed to bactericidal and sub-inhibitory concentrations of two membrane-active AMPs in the presence of the potential-sensitive dye 3,3'-dipropylthiadicarbocyanine iodide (diSC3(5)) and the DNA staining dye propidium iodide (PI), to simultaneously monitor and possibly distinguish membrane depolarization and membrane permeabilization. RESULTS:The ion channel-forming gramicidin D induced a rapid increase of diSC3(5), but not PI fluorescence, with slower kinetics at descending peptide concentrations, confirming killing due to membrane depolarization. The pore-forming melittin, at sub-MIC and bactericidal concentrations, caused, respectively, an increase of PI fluorescence in one or both dyes simultaneously, suggesting membrane permeabilization as a key event. CONCLUSIONS:This assay allowed the distinction between specific membrane effects, and it could be applied in the mode of action studies as well as in the screening of novel membrane-active AMPs.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are promising drug candidates to target multi-drug resistant bacteria. The rumen microbiome presents an underexplored resource for the discovery of novel microbial enzymes and metabolites, including AMPs. Using functional screening and computational approaches, we identified 181 potentially novel AMPs from a rumen bacterial metagenome. Here, we show that three of the selected AMPs (Lynronne-1, Lynronne-2 and Lynronne-3) were effective against numerous bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). No decrease in MRSA susceptibility was observed after 25 days of sub-lethal exposure to these AMPs. The AMPs bound preferentially to bacterial membrane lipids and induced membrane permeability leading to cytoplasmic leakage. Topical administration of Lynronne-1 (10% w/v) to a mouse model of MRSA wound infection elicited a significant reduction in bacterial counts, which was comparable to treatment with 2% mupirocin ointment. Our findings indicate that the rumen microbiome may provide viable alternative antimicrobials for future therapeutic application.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been proposed as a promising class of new antimicrobials partly because they are less susceptible to bacterial resistance evolution. This is possibly caused by their mode of action but also by their pharmacodynamic characteristics, which differ significantly from conventional antibiotics. Although pharmacodynamics of antibiotic resistant strains have been studied, such data are lacking for AMP resistant strains. Here, we investigated if the pharmacodynamics of the Gram-positive human pathogen Staphylococcous aureus evolve under antimicrobial peptide selection. Interestingly, the Hill coefficient (kappa ?) evolves together with the minimum inhibition concentration (MIC). Except for one genotype, strains harboring mutations in menF and atl, all mutants had higher kappa than the non-selected sensitive controls. Higher ? results in steeper pharmacodynamic curve and, importantly, in a narrower mutant selection window. S. aureus selected for resistance to melittin displayed cross resistant against pexiganan and had as steep pharmacodynamic curves (high ?) as pexiganan-selected lines. By contrast, the pexiganan-sensitive tenecin-selected lines displayed lower ?. Taken together, our data demonstrate that pharmacodynamic parameters are not fixed traits of particular drug/strain interactions but actually evolve under drug treatment. The contribution of factors such as ? and the maximum and minimum growth rates on the dynamics and probability of resistance evolution are open questions that require urgent attention.
Project description:Cationic charge and hydrophobicity have long been understood to drive the potency and selectivity of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). However, these properties alone struggle to guide broad success in vivo, where AMPs must differentiate bacterial and mammalian cells, while avoiding complex barriers. New parameters describing the biophysical processes of membrane disruption could provide new opportunities for antimicrobial optimization. In this work, we utilize oligothioetheramides (oligoTEAs) to explore the membrane-targeting mechanism of oligomers, which have the same cationic charge and hydrophobicity, yet show a unique ~?10-fold difference in antibacterial potency. Solution-phase characterization reveals little difference in structure and dynamics. However, fluorescence microscopy of oligomer-treated <i>Staphylococcus aureus</i> mimetic membranes shows multimeric lipid aggregation that correlates with biological activity and helps establish a framework for the kinetic mechanism of action. Surface plasmon resonance supports the kinetic framework and supports lipid aggregation as a driver of antimicrobial function.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and their mimics are emerging as promising antibiotic agents. We present a library of "ampetoids" (antimicrobial peptoid oligomers) with helical structures and biomimetic sequences, several members of which have low-micromolar antimicrobial activities, similar to cationic AMPs like pexiganan. Broad-spectrum activity against six clinically relevant BSL2 pathogens is also shown. This comprehensive structure-activity relationship study, including circular dichroism spectroscopy, minimum inhibitory concentration assays, hemolysis and mammalian cell toxicity studies, and specular x-ray reflectivity measurements shows that the in vitro activities of ampetoids are strikingly similar to those of AMPs themselves, suggesting a strong mechanistic analogy. The ampetoids' antibacterial activity, coupled with their low cytotoxicity against mammalian cells, make them a promising class of antimicrobials for biomedical applications. Peptoids are biostable, with a protease-resistant N-substituted glycine backbone, and their sequences are highly tunable, because an extensive diversity of side chains can be incorporated via facile solid-phase synthesis. Our findings add to the growing evidence that nonnatural foldamers will emerge as an important class of therapeutics.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides, including synthetic ones, are becoming increasingly important as a promising tool to fight multidrug-resistant bacteria. We examined the effect of cationic peptides H<sub>2</sub>N-Arg<sub>9</sub>-Phe<sub>2</sub>-C(O)NH<sub>2</sub> and H<sub>2</sub>N-(Lys-Phe-Phe)<sub>3</sub>-Lys-C(O)NH<sub>2</sub> on <i>Staphylococcus aureus</i>, which remains one of the most harmful pathogens. Antiseptic chlorhexidine served as reference preparation. We studied viability of <i>S. aureus</i> and examined its ultrastructure under treatment with 100 µM of R9F2 or (KFF)3K peptides or chlorhexidine using transmission electron microscopy of ultrathin sections. Bacterial cells were sampled as kinetic series starting from 1 min up to 4 h of treatment with preparations. Both peptides caused clearly visible damage of bacteria cell membrane within 1 min. Incubation of <i>S. aureus</i> with R9F2 or (KFF)3K peptides led to cell wall thinning, loss of cytoplasm structure, formation of mesosome-derived multimembrane structures and "decorated fibers" derived from DNA chains. The effect of R9F2 peptides on <i>S. aureus</i> was more severe than the effect of (KFF)3K peptides. Chlorhexidine heavily damaged the bacteria cell wall, in particular in areas of septa formation, while cytoplasm kept its structure within the observation time. Our study showed that cell membrane damage is critical for <i>S. aureus</i> viability; however, we believe that cell wall disorders should also be taken into account when analyzing the effects of the mechanisms of action of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs).