Naturally derived antimicrobial peptides have been an area of great interest because of high selectivity against bacterial targets over host cells and the limited development of bacterial resistance to these molecules throughout evolution. There are also a significant number of venom-derived peptides that exhibit antimicrobial activity in addition to activity against mammals or other organisms. Many venom peptides share the same net cationic, amphiphilic nature as host-defense peptides, making them an attractive target for development as potential antibacterial agents. The peptide ponericin L1 derived from Neoponera goeldii was used as a model to investigate the role of cationic residues and net charge on peptide activity. Using a combination of spectroscopic and microbiological approaches, the role of cationic residues and net charge on antibacterial activity, lipid bilayer interactions, and bilayer and membrane permeabilization were investigated. The L1 peptide and derivatives all showed enhanced binding to lipid vesicles containing anionic lipids, but still bound to zwitterionic vesicles. None of the derivatives were especially effective at permeabilizing lipid bilayers in model vesicles, in-tact Escherichia coli, or human red blood cells. Taken together the results indicate that the lack of facial amphiphilicity regarding charge segregation may impact the ability of the L1 peptides to effectively permeabilize bilayers despite effective binding. Additionally, increasing the net charge of the peptide by replacing the lone anionic residue with either Gln or Lys dramatically improved efficacy against several bacterial strains without increasing hemolytic activity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry