Novel histone-derived antimicrobial peptides use different antimicrobial mechanisms

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The increase in multidrug resistant bacteria has sparked an interest in the development of novel antibiotics. Antimicrobial peptides that operate by crossing the cell membrane may also have the potential to deliver drugs to intracellular targets. Buforin 2 (BF2) is an antimicrobial peptide that shares sequence identity with a fragment of histone subunit H2A and whose bactericidal mechanism depends on membrane translocation and DNA binding. Previously, novel histone-derived antimicrobial peptides (HDAPs) were designed based on properties of BF2, and DesHDAP1 and DesHDAP3 showed significant antibacterial activity. In this study, their DNA binding, permeabilization, and translocation abilities were assessed independently and compared to antibacterial activity to determine whether they share a mechanism with BF2. To investigate the importance of proline in determining the peptides' mechanisms of action, proline to alanine mutants of the novel peptides were generated. DesHDAP1, which shows significant similarities to BF2 in terms of secondary structure, translocates effectively across lipid vesicle and bacterial membranes, while the DesHDAP1 proline mutant shows reduced translocation abilities and antimicrobial potency. In contrast, both DesHDAP3 and its proline mutant translocate poorly, though the DesHDAP3 proline mutant is more potent. Our findings suggest that a proline hinge can promote membrane translocation in some peptides, but that the extent of its effect on permeabilization depends on the peptide's amphipathic properties. Our results also highlight the different antimicrobial mechanisms exhibited by histone-derived peptides and suggest that histones may serve as a source of novel antimicrobial peptides with varied properties. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.




Pavia, K. E., Spinella, S. A., & Elmore, D. E. (2012). Novel histone-derived antimicrobial peptides use different antimicrobial mechanisms. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1818(3), 869–876.

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