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Design of Nontoxic Analogues of Cathelicidin-Derived Bovine Antimicrobial Peptide BMAP-27: The Role of Leucine as Well as Phenylalanine Zipper Sequences in Determining Its Toxicity

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journal contribution
posted on 24.11.2009, 00:00 by Aqeel Ahmad, Sarfuddin Azmi, Raghvendra M. Srivastava, Saurabh Srivastava, Brijesh K. Pandey, Rubha Saxena, Virendra Kumar Bajpai, Jimut Kanti Ghosh
BMAP-27 is a cathelicidin-derived bovine antimicrobial peptide, which shows moderate cytotoxicity and potent antibacterial activity against a wide variety of microorganisms. Despite a number of studies, very little is known about the amino acid sequences of this peptide that controls its antibacterial and cytotoxic activities. Small stretches of phenylalanine and leucine zipper sequences were identified at the N- and C-termini of the molecule, respectively. To understand the structural and functional roles of these sequence elements, we synthesized and characterized several analogues of BMAP-27 after substituting leucine or phenylalanine residue(s) at a and/or d positions of the leucine and phenylalanine zipper sequences, respectively, with alanine. BMAP-27 analogues exhibited significantly reduced cytotoxicity against the human red blood (hRBC) and murine 3T3 cells as compared to that of the wild-type peptide. Interestingly, BMAP-27 and its analogues exhibited comparable antibacterial activity against the selected Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Moreover, BMAP-27 and its analogues exhibited similar localization and assembly onto the selected bacteria and induced comparable permeability in these cells. However, only BMAP-27, not its analogues, assembled and bound strongly onto the hRBCs and permeabilized them. The results indicated that not only a leucine zipper but also a phenylalanine zipper sequence plays an important role in maintaining the assembly of BMAP-27 on the mammalian cells examined here and cytotoxic activity against them. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of the evaluation of structural and functional roles of a phenylalanine zipper sequence in a naturally occurring antimicrobial peptide.