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PBP 10, an antibacterial, cell membrane-permeant rhodamine B-conjugated peptide derived from the polyphosphoinositide binding site of gelsolin, interacts selectively with both lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and lipoteichoic acid (LTA), the distinct components of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, respectively. Isolated LPS and LTA decrease the antimicrobial activities of PBP 10, as well as other antimicrobial peptides, such as cathelicidin-LL37 (LL37) and mellitin. In an effort to elucidate the mechanism of bacterial killing by PBP 10, we compared its effects on artificial lipid bilayers and eukaryotic cell membranes with the actions of the mellitin, magainin II, and LL37 peptides. This study reveals that pore formation is unlikely to be involved in PBP 10-mediated membrane destabilization. We also investigated the effects of these peptides on platelets and red blood cells (RBCs). Comparison of these antimicrobial peptides shows that only mellitin has a toxic effect on platelets and RBCs in a concentration range concomitant with its bactericidal activity. The hemolytic activities of the PBP 10 and LL37 peptides significantly increase when RBCs are osmotically swollen in hypotonic solution, indicating that these antibacterial peptides may take advantage of the more extended form of bacterial membranes in exerting their killing activities. Additionally, we found that LL37 hemolytic activity was much higher when RBCs were induced to expose phosphatidylserine to the external leaflet of their plasma membranes. This finding suggests that asymmetrical distribution of phospholipids in the external membranes of eukaryotic cells may represent an important factor in determining the specificity of antibacterial peptides for targeting bacteria rather than eukaryotic cells.
Date Posted: 15 January 2008
This document has been peer reviewed.