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Appl Environ Microbiol. Mar 1997; 63(3): 1155–1159.
PMCID: PMC168406

Protamine-induced permeabilization of cell envelopes of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.


The inhibitory effect of the cationic peptide protamine on Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, and Shewanella putrefaciens has been studied in detail. The addition of protamine (10 to 1,000 micrograms/ml) resulted in inhibition of oxygen consumption after less than 1 min and loss of intracellular carboxyfluorescein and ATP after 2 to 5 min. Maximum antibacterial activity was reached at alkaline pH and in the absence of divalent cations. The efficient permeabilization of cell envelopes of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria suggests that protamine causes a general disruption of the cell envelope, leading to a rapid and nonspecific efflux of low- and high-molecular-weight compounds.

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Selected References

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