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J Med Chem. 2016 Dec 22;59(24):10946-10962. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00922. Epub 2016 Dec 7.

Insights into the Antimicrobial Activity and Cytotoxicity of Engineered α-Helical Peptide Amphiphiles.

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Key Laboratory of Food Processing and Quality Control, Ministry of Agriculture of China, College of Food Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University , Tongwei 6, Nanjing 210095, People's Republic of China.


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have gained increasing attention, as they can overcome recurring microbial invasions. However, their poor antimicrobial activity and potential cytotoxicity remain impediments to their clinical applications as novel therapeutic agents. To enhance the antimicrobial activity and cell selectivity of AMPs, a series of amphiphilic peptides based on leucocin A were designed by substituting noncharged hydrophilic residues with arginine and leucine. Of the engineered peptides, peptide 7 (WRL3) (WLRAFRRLVRRLARGLRR-NH2) exhibited the highest cell selectivity toward bacterial cells over erythrocytes and macrophages. Fluorescent measurements and microscopic observations demonstrated that 7 increased cell membrane permeability and disrupted membrane envelope integrity, and eventually led to whole cell lysis. Additionally, flow cytometry analysis and subcellular localization studies revealed that 7 showed potent cytotoxicity against human hepatoma cells HepG2. In summary, the data indicate that these engineered peptides, in particular 7, have enormous promise for antibacterial and/or antitumor therapeutics.

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