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Curr Med Chem. 2019 Jul 21. doi: 10.2174/0929867326666190722095408. [Epub ahead of print]

The Potential of Frog Skin Peptides for Anti-Infective Therapies: the Case of Esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2.

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Laboratory affiliated to Pasteur Italia-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Biochemical Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, via degli Apuli, 9,00185. Italy.
. Italy.
Center for Life Nano Science@Sapienza, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Viale Regina Elena 291, 00161 Rome. Italy.


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are key effectors of the innate immunity and represent promising molecules for the development of new antibacterial drugs. However, to achieve this goal, some problems need to be overcome: (i) the cytotoxic effects at high concentrations; (ii) the poor biostability and (iii) the difficulty in reaching the target site. Frog skin is one of the richest natural storehouses of AMPs and over the years, many peptides have been isolated from it, characterized and classified into several families encompassing temporins, brevinins, nigrocins and esculentins. In this review, we summarized how the isolation/characterization of peptides belonging to the esculentin-1 family drove us to the design of an analogue, i.e. esculentin-1a(1-21)NH2, with a powerful antimicrobial action and immunomodulatory properties. The peptide had a wide spectrum of activity, especially against the opportunistic Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We described the structural features and the in vitro/in vivo biological characterization of this peptide as well as the strategies used to improve its biological properties. Among them: (i) the design of a diastereomer carrying D-amino acids in order to reduce the peptide's cytotoxicity and improve its half-life; (ii) the covalent conjugation of the peptide to gold nanoparticles or its encapsulation into poly(lactide- co-glycolide) nanoparticles; and (iii) the peptide immobilization to biomedical devices (such as silicon hydrogel contact lenses) to obtain an antibacterial surface able to reduce microbial growth and attachment. Summing up the best results obtained so far, this review traces all the steps that led these frog-skin AMPsto the direction of peptide-based drugs for clinical use.


D-amino acids; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; antimicrobial peptides; contact lenses; gold nanoparticles; innate immunity; wound healing

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