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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Pharmacol. | doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01127

BioSAXS measurements reveal that two antimicrobial peptides induce similar molecular changes in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria

  • 1Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
  • 2St George's, University of London, United Kingdom
  • 3TiKa Diagnostics Ltd, United Kingdom
  • 4Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom
  • 5Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom
  • 6Institut für Polymerforschung, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany
  • 7Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Two highly active short broad-spectrum AMPs (14D and 69D) with unknown mode of action have been investigated in regards to their effect against the Gram-negative bacteria E. coli and the Gram-positive bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) measurements using a cell density of 108 cfu/ml resulted in values between 16 and 32 µg/ml. Time kill experiments using 108 cfu/ml revealed complete killing, except for 69D in combination with MRSA, where bacterial load was reduced a million times. Small angle X-ray scattering of biological samples (BioSAXS) at 108 cfu/ml was applied to investigate the ultrastructural changes in E. coli and MRSA in response to these two broad-spectrum AMPs. In addition, electron microscopy (EM) was performed to visualize the treated and non-treated bacteria. As expected, the scattering curves generated using BioSAXS show the ultrastructure of the Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria to be very different (BioSAXS is not susceptible to the outer shape). After treatment with either peptide, the scattering curves of E. coli and MRSA cells are much more alike. This data in conjunction with the EM indicates that ribosomes might be effected by the treatment as well as changes in the nucleoid occurs. Whereas in EM it is notoriously difficult to observe changes for spherical Gram-positives, the BioSAXS results are superior and reveal strongly similar effects for both peptides induced in Gram-positive as well as Gram-negative bacteria. Given the high-throughput possibility and robust statistics BioSAXS can support and speed up mode of action research in AMPs and other antimicrobial compounds, making a contribution towards the development of urgently needed drugs against resistant bacteria.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptide (AMP), host defence peptide, BioSAXS, Molecular changes, Mode of action (MOA)

Received: 25 Jun 2019; Accepted: 30 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 vonGundlach, Ashby, Gani, Lopez-Perez, Cookson, Huws, Rumancev, Garamus, Mikut, Rosenhahn and Hilpert. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Ralf Mikut, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, 76344, Baden-Württemberg, Germany,