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ACS Chem. Biol

Transformation of Human Cathelicidin LL-37 into Selective, Stable and Potent antimicrobial Compounds

Guangshun Wang , Mark L Hanke , Biswajit Mishra, Tamara Lushnikova , Cortney E Heim , Vinai Chittezham Thomas , Kenneth W Bayles , and Tammy Kielian

Department of Microbiology and Pathology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 986495 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 6819846495, USA.


This letter reports a family of novel antimicrobial compounds obtained by combining peptide library screening with structure-based design. Library screening led to the identification of a human LL-37 peptide resistant to chymotrypsin. This D-amino-acid-containing peptide template was active against Escherichia coli but not methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It possesses a unique non-classic amphipathic structure with hydrophobic defects. By repairing the hydrophobic defects, the peptide (17BIPHE2) gained activity against the ESKAPE pathogens, including Enterococcus faecium, S. aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumanii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species. In vitro, 17BIPHE2 could disrupt bacterial membranes and bind to DNA. In vivo, the peptide prevented staphylococcal biofilm formation in a mouse model of catheter-associated infection. Meanwhile, it boosted the innate immune response to further combat the infection. Because these peptides are potent, cell selective, and stable to several proteases, they may be utilized to combat one or more ESKAPE pathogens.


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