Modified cysteine-deleted tachyplesin (CDT) analogs as linear antimicrobial peptides: Influence of chain length, positive charge, and hydrophobicity on antimicrobial and hemolytic activity

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Due to increasing resistance of bacteria to traditional antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides are being investigated as a promising alternative. Tachyplesin, an antimicrobial peptide isolated from horseshoe crab, inhibits the growth of many different types of bacteria with its ability to permeabilize the cell membrane. Starting with a previously reported linear tachyplesin analog lacking cysteine (cysteine-deleted tachyplesin, CDT, KWFRVYRGIYRRR-CONH2), this study examines the systematic deletion of the C-terminal arginines and the N-terminal lysine, addition of positively charged N-and C-terminal residues, replacement of arginine with similarly-charged lysine, and replacement of hydrophobic residues with aliphatic, aromatic, fluoro-substituted aromatic, and bicyclic amino acids to examine effects on activity. The 16 modified CDT analogs were tested for their ability to disrupt model liposomes, and minimum inhibitory concentrations were determined for gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial strains. Hemolytic activity also was assessed. Overall, results indicate that elimination of two C-terminal arginine residues results in a peptide ([des-Arg12,13]CDT) with preserved antimicrobial activity but a reduction in hemolysis, a selectivity desirable for a therapeutic agent. Additional deletion was not tolerated, nor was addition of residues at the termini. Analysis of the 16 analogs also reveals the importance of hydrophobicity, not necessarily aromaticity, as an analog with hydrophobic isoleucine residues placed throughout the sequence ([Ile2,3,6,10]CDT) displayed comparable antimicrobial activity to CDT with lower hemolysis, representing a promising antimicrobial peptide with lowered toxicity.

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