Small cationic antimicrobial peptides delocalize peripheral membrane proteins.

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Small cationic antimicrobial peptides delocalize peripheral membrane proteins.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 8;111(14):E1409-18

Authors: Wenzel M, Chiriac AI, Otto A, Zweytick D, May C, Schumacher C, Gust R, Albada HB, Penkova M, Krämer U, Erdmann R, Metzler-Nolte N, Straus SK, Bremer E, Becher D, Brötz-Oesterhelt H, Sahl HG, Bandow JE

Short antimicrobial peptides rich in arginine (R) and tryptophan (W) interact with membranes. To learn how this interaction leads to bacterial death, we characterized the effects of the minimal pharmacophore RWRWRW-NH2. A ruthenium-substituted derivative of this peptide localized to the membrane in vivo, and the peptide also integrated readily into mixed phospholipid bilayers that resemble Gram-positive membranes. Proteome and Western blot analyses showed that integration of the peptide caused delocalization of peripheral membrane proteins essential for respiration and cell-wall biosynthesis, limiting cellular energy and undermining cell-wall integrity. This delocalization phenomenon also was observed with the cyclic peptide gramicidin S, indicating the generality of the mechanism. Exogenous glutamate increases tolerance to the peptide, indicating that osmotic destabilization also contributes to antibacterial efficacy. Bacillus subtilis responds to peptide stress by releasing osmoprotective amino acids, in part via mechanosensitive channels. This response is triggered by membrane-targeting bacteriolytic peptides of different structural classes as well as by hypoosmotic conditions.

PMID: 24706874 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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