School of Chemistry - Research Publications

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    C-terminus amidation influences biological activity and membrane interaction of maculatin 1.1
    Zhu, S ; Li, W ; O'Brien-Simpson, N ; Separovic, F ; Sani, M-A (SPRINGER WIEN, 2021-05)
    Cationic antimicrobial peptides have been investigated for their potential use in combating infections by targeting the cell membrane of microbes. Their unique chemical structure has been investigated to understand their mode of action and optimize their dose-response by rationale design. One common feature among cationic AMPs is an amidated C-terminus that provides greater stability against in vivo degradation. This chemical modification also likely modulates the interaction with the cell membrane of bacteria yet few studies have been performed comparing the effect of the capping groups. We used maculatin 1.1 (Mac1) to assess the role of the capping groups in modulating the peptide bacterial efficiency, stability and interactions with lipid membranes. Circular dichroism results showed that C-terminus amidation maintains the structural stability of the peptide (α-helix) in contact with micelles. Dye leakage experiments revealed that amidation of the C-terminus resulted in higher membrane disruptive ability while bacteria and cell viability assays revealed that the amidated form displayed higher antibacterial ability and cytotoxicity compared to the acidic form of Mac1. Furthermore, 31P and 2H solid-state NMR showed that C-terminus amidation played a greater role in disturbance of the phospholipid headgroup but had little effect on the lipid tails. This study paves the way to better understand how membrane-active AMPs act in live bacteria.
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    Enhancing proline-rich antimicrobial peptide action by homodimerization: influence of bifunctional linker
    Li, W ; Lin, F ; Hung, A ; Barlow, A ; Sani, M-A ; Paolini, R ; Singleton, W ; Holden, J ; Hossain, MA ; Separovic, F ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Wade, JD (ROYAL SOC CHEMISTRY, 2022-02-23)
    Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are host defense peptides, and unlike conventional antibiotics, they possess potent broad spectrum activities and, induce little or no antimicrobial resistance. They are attractive lead molecules for rational development to improve their therapeutic index. Our current studies examined dimerization of the de novo designed proline-rich AMP (PrAMP), Chex1-Arg20 hydrazide, via C-terminal thiol addition to a series of bifunctional benzene or phenyl tethers to determine the effect of orientation of the peptides and linker length on antimicrobial activity. Antibacterial assays confirmed that dimerization per se significantly enhances Chex1-Arg20 hydrazide action. Greatest advantage was conferred using perfluoroaromatic linkers (tetrafluorobenzene and octofluorobiphenyl) with the resulting dimeric peptides 6 and 7 exhibiting potent action against Gram-negative bacteria, especially the World Health Organization's critical priority-listed multidrug-resistant (MDR)/extensively drug-resistant (XDR) Acinetobacter baumannii as well as preformed biofilms. Mode of action studies indicated these lead PrAMPs can interact with both outer and inner bacterial membranes to affect the membrane potential and stress response. Additionally, 6 and 7 possess potent immunomodulatory activity and neutralise inflammation via nitric oxide production in macrophages. Molecular dynamics simulations of adsorption and permeation mechanisms of the PrAMP on a mixed lipid membrane bilayer showed that a rigid, planar tethered dimer orientation, together with the presence of fluorine atoms that provide increased bacterial membrane interaction, is critical for enhanced dimer activity. These findings highlight the advantages of use of such bifunctional tethers to produce first-in-class, potent PrAMP dimers against MDR/XDR bacterial infections.