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Food Chem. 2016 Nov 15;211:546-54. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.05.100. Epub 2016 May 17.

New antimicrobial peptides against foodborne pathogens: From in silico design to experimental evidence.

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Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (IBBR)-UOS Na, National Research Council (CNR-IBBR), Via Pietro Castellino 111, 80131 Naples, Italy. Electronic address:
Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (IBBR)-UOS Na, National Research Council (CNR-IBBR), Via Pietro Castellino 111, 80131 Naples, Italy.
Department of Food Microbiology, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Mezzogiorno, via della salute, 2, 80055 Portici, Italy.
Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Via Mezzocannone, 16, 80134 Naples, Italy.
Institute of Food Science, National Research Council (CNR-ISA), Via Roma 52, 83100 Avellino, Italy.
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production, University of Naples Federico II, Via Federico Delpino 1, 80137 Naples, Italy.


Recently there has been growing interest in the discovery of new antimicrobial agents to increase safety and shelf-life of food products. Here, we developed an innovative approach by introducing the concept that mitochondrial targeting peptides (MTP) can interact and disrupt bacterial membranes, acting as antimicrobial agents. As proof-of-principle, we used a multidisciplinary strategy by combining in silico predictions, docking simulations and antimicrobial assays, to identify two peptides, MTP1 and MTP2, which were structurally and functionally characterized. Both compounds appeared effective against Listeria monocytogenes, one of the most important foodborne pathogens. Specifically, a significant bactericidal activity was evidenced with EC50 values of 16.8±1.2μM for MTP1 and 109±7.0μM for MTP2. Finally, NMR structure determinations suggested that MTP1 would be oriented into the membrane bilayer, while the molecular shape of MTP2 could indicate porin-mediated antimicrobial mechanisms, as predicted using molecular docking analysis. Therefore, MTPs represent alternative sources to design new potential bio-preservatives.


Antimicrobial peptide; Food bio-preservatives; Listeria monocytogenes; Mitochondrial-targeted peptide; Structural analysis

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