American Chemical Society
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Structure–Activity Study of Antibacterial Poly(ester urethane)s with Uniform Distribution of Hydrophobic and Cationic Groups

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-07, 00:00 authored by Chao Peng, Apoorva Vishwakarma, Steven Mankoci, Hazel A. Barton, Abraham Joy
Infections associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become a threat to the global public health. Antimicrobial polymers, which are synthetic mimics of antimicrobial peptides, have gained increasing attention, as they may have a lower chance of inducing resistance. The cationic–hydrophobic balance and distribution of cationic and hydrophobic moieties of these polymers is known to have a major effect on antimicrobial activity. We studied the properties of a series of facially amphiphilic antimicrobial surfactant-like poly­(ester urethane)­s with different hydrophobic pendant groups (P1, P2, and P3) and cationic groups distributed uniformly along the polymer chain. These polymers exhibited bactericidal activity against Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Microscopy and dye release assays demonstrated that these polymers cause membrane disruption, which is dependent on the cationic–hydrophobic ratio in the polymer. Membrane permeability assays revealed that these polymers can permeabilize the outer membrane of E. coli and damage the cytoplasmic membrane of both E. coli and S. aureus. In addition, our results indicate that the three polymers exhibit a different extent of membrane disruption against E. coli. P1 caused minor damage to the cytoplasmic membrane integrity, but it was able to dissipate the cytoplasmic membrane potential, leading to cell death. P2 and P3 depolarized the cytoplasmic membrane and also caused significant damage to the cytoplasmic membrane. Overall, we showed a new class of broad-spectrum bactericidal polymers whose membrane disrupting ability against E. coli correlates with the structural differences of the hydrophobic pendant groups.