Melbourne Dental School - Research Publications

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    Synthetic peptide branched polymers for antibacterial and biomedical applications
    Shabani, S ; Hadjigol, S ; Li, W ; Si, Z ; Pranantyo, D ; Chan-Park, MB ; O’Brien-Simpson, NM ; Qiao, GG (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2024-04-01)
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    Star-Peptide Polymers are Multi-Drug-Resistant Gram-Positive Bacteria Killers
    Li, W ; Hadjigol, S ; Mazo, AR ; Holden, J ; Lenzo, J ; Shirbin, SJ ; Barlow, A ; Shabani, S ; Huang, T ; Reynolds, EC ; Qiao, GG ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM (AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2022-06-08)
    Antibiotic resistance in bacteria, especially Gram-positive bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, is gaining considerable momentum worldwide and unless checked will pose a global health crisis. With few new antibiotics coming on the market, there is a need for novel antimicrobial materials that target and kill multi-drug-resistant (MDR) Gram-positive pathogens like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In this study, using a novel mixed-bacteria antimicrobial assay, we show that the star-peptide polymers preferentially target and kill Gram-positive pathogens including MRSA. A major effect on the activity of the star-peptide polymer was structure, with an eight-armed structure inducing the greatest bactericidal activity. The different star-peptide polymer structures were found to induce different mechanisms of bacterial death both in vitro and in vivo. These results highlight the potential utility of peptide/polymers to fabricate materials for therapeutic development against MDR Gram-positive bacterial infections.
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    Systematic comparison of activity and mechanism of antimicrobial peptides against nosocomial pathogens
    Lin, B ; Hung, A ; Li, R ; Barlow, A ; Singleton, W ; Matthyssen, T ; Sani, M-AD ; Hossain, MA ; Wade, J ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Li, W (ELSEVIER FRANCE-EDITIONS SCIENTIFIQUES MEDICALES ELSEVIER, 2022-03-05)
    The World Health Organisation has deemed several multi-drug resistant (MDR) nosocomial bacterial pathogens to be of significant threat to human health. A stark increase in morbidity, mortality and the burden to healthcare systems around the world can be attributed to the development of resistance in these bacteria. Accordingly, alternative antimicrobial agents have been sought as an attractive means to combat MDR pathogens, with one such example being antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Given the reported activity of AMPs, including Pardaxin, MSI-78, dermaseptin-PC (DMPC) and Cecropin B, it is important to understand their activities and modes of action against bacteria for further AMP design. In this study, we compared these AMPs against a panel of nosocomial bacterial pathogens, followed by detailed mechanistic studies. It was found that Pardaxin (1-22) and MSI-78 (4-20) displayed the most pronounced antimicrobial activity against the tested bacteria. The mechanistic studies by membrane permeability and molecular dynamics simulation further confirmed the strong membrane interaction and structure of Pardaxin (1-22) and MSI-78 (4-20), which contributed to their potent activity. This study demonstrated a structure and activity guidance for further design of Pardaxin (1-22) and MSI-78 (4-20) as therapeutics against MDR pathogens. The different effects of DMPC (1-19) and Cecropin B (1-21) on membrane integrity and phospholipid membrane interactions provided critical information for the rational design of next-generation analogues with specificity against either Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacteria.
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    The effect of tailing lipidation on the bioactivity of antimicrobial peptides and their aggregation tendency Special Issue: Emerging Investigators
    Lin, B ; Hung, A ; Singleton, W ; Darmawan, KK ; Moses, R ; Yao, B ; Wu, H ; Barlow, A ; Marc-Antoine, S ; Sloan, AJ ; Hossain, MA ; Wade, JD ; Hong, Y ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Li, W (WILEY, 2023-08)
    Abstract Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are potentially powerful alternatives to conventional antibiotics in combating multidrug resistance, given their broad spectrum of activity. They mainly interact with cell membranes through surface electrostatic potentials and the formation of secondary structures, resulting in permeability and destruction of target microorganism membranes. Our earlier work showed that two leading AMPs, MSI‐78 (4–20) and pardaxin (1–22), had potent antimicrobial activity against a range of bacteria. It is known that the attachment of moderate‐length lipid carbon chains to cationic peptides can further improve the functionality of these peptides through enhanced interactions with the membrane lipid bilayer, inducing membrane curvature, destabilization, and potential leakage. Thus, in this work, we aimed to investigate the antimicrobial activity, oligomerization propensity, and lipid‐membrane binding interactions of a range of N‐terminal lipidated analogs of MSI‐78 (4–20) and pardaxin (1–22). Molecular modeling results suggest that aggregation of the N‐lipidated AMPs may impart greater structural stability to the peptides in solution and a greater depth of lipid bilayer insertion for the N‐lipidated AMPs over the parental peptide. Our experimental and computational findings provide insights into how N‐terminal lipidation of AMPs may alter their conformations, with subsequent effects on their functional properties in regard to their self‐aggregation behavior, membrane interactions, and antimicrobial activity.
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    The overview of antimicrobial peptide-coated implants against oral bacterial infections Special Issue: Emerging Investigators
    Sun, Z ; Ma, L ; Sun, X ; Sloan, AJ ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Li, W (WILEY, 2023-06)
    Abstract Dental implants are the most common therapeutic approach for resolving tooth loss and damage. Despite technical advances in treatment, implant failure rates can be as high as 23% with the major cause of peri‐implantitis: a multi‐species bacterial infection. With an annual growth rate in implant placements of 8.78% per annum, implant failure caused by bacterial infection is a significant oral and general health issue. The rise in antibiotic resistance in oral bacteria further adds pressure to implant failure; thus, there is a need for adjunctive therapy to improve implant outcomes. Due to the broad spectrum of activity and a low risk of inducing bacterial resistance, peptide antibiotics are emerging as a promising implant coating material to reduce/prevent peri‐implantitis and improve dental implant success rates. In this review, we summarised the current strategies of coating antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) onto dental implant material surfaces with multi‐functional properties to enhance osteoblast growth and prevent bacterial infections. This review compared the recent reported literature on dental implant coating with AMPs, which will provide an overview of the current dental implant coating strategies using AMPs and insights for future clinical applications.
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    Directed chemical dimerisation enhances the antibacterial activity of the antimicrobial peptide MSI-78(4–20)
    Li, R ; Handley, TNG ; Li, W ; O’Brien-Simpson, NM ; Hossain, MA ; Wade, JD ; Aguilar, M (CSIRO Publishing, 2023-05-31)
    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is on the rise, leading to 700 000 deaths worldwide in 2020. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are antibiotic agents that are active against multi-drug resistant pathogens and also have a reduced risk of AMR development. Previous studies have shown that dimerisation of the proline-rich antibacterial peptide (PrAMP) Chex1–Arg20 can enhance its antimicrobial activity while also reducing its toxicity. To determine if dimerisation via a simple disulfide bond can similarly improve other classes of AMPs, the α-helical cationic peptide MSI 78(4–20) was used as a model. The monomer alone, an S-carboxamidomethyl-capped N-terminal Cys–MSI-78(4–20) analogue and the disulfide-linked dimer were successfully synthesised and their antimicrobial activity and toxicity were determined. It was shown that dimerisation enhanced antimicrobial activity against the Gram-positive opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 29213, the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli ATCC 25922 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 47615. The peptides showed no significant haemolytic activity with red blood cells and only induced 50% lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release in mammalian cells at the highest tested concentration, 15 µM. The MSI-78(4–20) dimer was less cytotoxic than the monomer and S-alkyl monomer. Together, the data support the strategy of AMP chemically directed dimerisation as a means of producing potentially more therapeutically useful antimicrobial agents.
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    Development and application of Diels-Alder adducts displaying AIE properties
    Gialelis, TL ; Owyong, TC ; Ding, S ; Li, W ; Yu, M ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Zhao, Z ; White, JM ; Yao, B ; Hong, Y (CELL PRESS, 2022-02-16)
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    The Potential of Calcium Phosphate Nanoparticles as Adjuvants and Vaccine Delivery Vehicles
    Sun, Z ; Li, W ; Lenzo, JC ; Holden, JA ; McCullough, MJ ; O'Connor, AJ ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-22)
    Vaccination is one of the most efficacious and cost-effective ways to protect people from infectious diseases and potentially cancer. The shift in vaccine design from disrupted whole pathogens to subunit antigens has brought attention on to vaccine delivery materials. For the last two decades, nanotechnology-based vaccines have attracted considerable attention as delivery vehicles and adjuvants to enhance immunogenicity, exemplified with the current COVID vaccines. The nanoparticle vaccines display unique features in protecting antigens from degradation, controlled antigen release and longer persisting immune response. Due to their size, shape and surface charge, they can be outstanding adjuvants to achieve various immunological effects. With the safety and biodegradable benefit of calcium phosphate nanoparticles (CaP NPs), they are an efficient carrier for vaccine design and adjuvants. Several research groups have studied CaP NPs in the field of vaccination with great advances. Although there are several reports on the overview of CaP NPs, they are limited to the application in biomedicine, drug delivery, bone regeneration and the methodologies of CaP NPs synthesis. Hence, we summarised the basic properties of CaP NPs and the recent vaccine development of CaP NPs in this review.
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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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    Evaluation of Potential DnaK Modulating Proline-Rich Antimicrobial Peptides Identified by Computational Screening
    Handley, TNG ; Li, W ; Welch, NG ; O'Brien-Simpson, NM ; Hossain, MA ; Wade, JD (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2022-04-13)
    The day is rapidly approaching where current antibiotic therapies will no longer be effective due to the development of multi-drug resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a promising class of therapeutic agents which have the potential to help address this burgeoning problem. Proline-rich AMPs (PrAMPs) are a sub-class of AMPs, that have multiple modes of action including modulation of the bacterial protein folding chaperone, DnaK. They are highly effective against Gram-negative bacteria and have low toxicity to mammalian cells. Previously we used an in silico approach to identify new potential PrAMPs from the DRAMP database. Four of these peptides, antibacterial napin, attacin-C, P9, and PP30, were each chemically assembled and characterized. Together with synthetic oncocin as a reference, each peptide was then assessed for antibacterial activity against Gram-negative/Gram-positive bacteria and for in vitro DnaK modulation activity. We observed that these peptides directly modulate DnaK activity independently of eliciting or otherwise an antibiotic effect. Based on our findings, we propose a change to our previously established PrAMP definition to remove the requirement for antimicrobial activity in isolation, leaving the following classifiers: >25% proline, modulation of DnaK AND/OR the 70S ribosome, net charge of +1 or more, produced in response to bacterial infection AND/OR with pronounced antimicrobial activity.