J Microbiol Biotechnol 2019 Nov;29(11):1707-1716
Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Republic of Korea.
The development of new antimicrobial agents is essential for the effective treatment of diseases such as sepsis. We previously developed a new short peptide, Pap12-6, using the 12 N-terminal residues of papiliocin, which showed potent and effective antimicrobial activity against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we investigated the antimicrobial mechanism of Pap12-6 and a newly designed peptide, Pap12-7, in which the 12 Trp residue of Pap12-6 was replaced with Val to develop a potent peptide with high bacterial selectivity and a different antibacterial mechanism. Both peptides showed high antimicrobial activity against Gram-negative bacteria, including multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. In addition, the two peptides showed similar anti-inflammatory activity against lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells, but Pap12-7 showed very low toxicities against sheep red blood cells and mammalian cells compared to that showed by Pap12-6. A calcein dye leakage assay, membrane depolarization, and confocal microscopy observations revealed that the two peptides with one single amino acid change have different mechanisms of antibacterial action: Pap12-6 directly targets the bacterial cell membrane, whereas Pap12-7 appears to penetrate the bacterial cell membrane and exert its activities in the cell. The therapeutic efficacy of Pap12-7 was further examined in a mouse model of sepsis, which increased the survival rate of septic mice. For the first time, we showed that both peptides showed anti-septic activity by reducing the infiltration of neutrophils and the production of inflammatory factors. Overall, these results indicate Pap12-7 as a novel non-toxic peptide with potent antibacterial and anti-septic activities via penetrating the cell membrane.