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Sci Rep. 2015 Mar 16;5:9127. doi: 10.1038/srep09127.

An unprecedented alteration in mode of action of IsCT resulting its translocation into bacterial cytoplasm and inhibition of macromolecular syntheses.

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Molecular and Structural Biology Division, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Sector 10, Jankipuram Extension, Sitapur Road, Lucknow-226 031, India.
Electron Microscopy Unit, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Sector 10, Jankipuram Extension, Sitapur Road, Lucknow-226 031, India.


IsCT, a 13-residue, non-cell-selective antimicrobial peptide is comprised of mostly hydrophobic residues and lesser cationic residues. Assuming that placement of an additional positive charge in the non-polar face of IsCT could reduce its hydrophobic interaction, resulting in its reduction of cytotoxicity, an analog, I9K-IsCT was designed. Two more analogs, namely, E7K-IsCT and E7K,I9K-IsCT, were designed to investigate the impact of positive charges in the polar face as well as polar and non-polar faces at a time. These amino acid substitutions resulted in a significant enhancement of therapeutic potential of IsCT. IsCT and E7K-IsCT seem to target bacterial membrane for their anti-bacterial activity. However, I9K-IsCT and E7K,I9K-IsCT inhibited nucleic acid and protein syntheses in tested E. coli without perturbing its membrane. This was further supported by the observation that NBD-IsCT localized onto bacterial membrane while NBD-labeled I9K-IsCT and E7K,I9K-IsCT translocated into bacterial cytoplasm. Interestingly, IsCT and E7K-IsCT were significantly helical while I9K-IsCT and E7K,I9K-IsCT were mostly unstructured with no helix content in presence of mammalian and bacterial membrane-mimetic lipid vesicles. Altogether, the results identify two novel cell-selective analogs of IsCT with new prototype amino acid sequences that can translocate into bacterial cytoplasm without any helical structure and inhibit macromolecular syntheses.

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