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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013 Jun 13;7(6):e2267. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002267. Print 2013.

Antimicrobial action of the cyclic peptide bactenecin on Burkholderia pseudomallei correlates with efficient membrane permeabilization.

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Protein and Proteomics Research Center for Commercial and Industrial Purposes, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.


Burkholderia pseudomallei is a category B agent that causes Melioidosis, an acute and chronic disease with septicemia. The current treatment regimen is a heavy dose of antibiotics such as ceftazidime (CAZ); however, the risk of a relapse is possible. Peptide antibiotics are an alternative to classical antibiotics as they exhibit rapid action and are less likely to result in the development of resistance. The aim of this study was to determine the bactericidal activity against B. pseudomallei and examine the membrane disrupting abilities of the potent antimicrobial peptides: bactenecin, RTA3, BMAP-18 and CA-MA. All peptides exhibited >97% bactericidal activity at 20 µM, with bactenecin having slightly higher activity. Long term time-kill assays revealed a complete inhibition of cell growth at 50 µM bactenecin and CA-MA. All peptides inhibited biofilm formation comparable to CAZ, but exhibited faster kinetics (within 1 h). Bactenecin exhibited stronger binding to LPS and induced perturbation of the inner membrane of live cells. Interaction of bactenecin with model membranes resulted in changes in membrane fluidity and permeability, leading to leakage of dye across the membrane at levels two-fold greater than that of other peptides. Modeling of peptide binding on the membrane showed stable and deep insertion of bactenecin into the membrane (up to 9 Å). We propose that bactenecin is able to form dimers or large β-sheet structures in a concentration dependent manner and subsequently rapidly permeabilize the membrane, leading to cytosolic leakage and cell death in a shorter period of time compared to CAZ. Bactenecin might be considered as a potent antimicrobial agent for use against B. pseudomallei.

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