Host defense peptides (HDP) constitute effector molecules of the innate immune system. Besides acting against microbia and fungi, they exhibit broad and selective oncolytic activity. The underlying mechanism is at least partially attributable to elevated surface-exposed levels of phosphatidylserine (PS) on tumor targets. In this study, comprehensive analysis of NK-2-based derivatives (C7A, C7A-D21K, and C7A-?) was done on patient-derived ultra-low passage colorectal carcinoma (CRC) cell lines. Peptides were designed to improve antitumoral potential. Mellitin was used as positive control and a non-toxic peptide (NK11) served as negative control. Subsequently, effectiveness of local HDP application was determined in xenopatients. Generally, CRC lines displayed a heterogeneous pattern of surface-exposed PS, which was usually below standard CRC cells. Of note, five out of seven cell lines were susceptible towards HDP-mediated lysis (lytic activity of peptides: C7A-D21K > C7A-?= C7A). Oncolytic activity correlated mostly with surface-exposed PS levels. Apoptosis as well as necrosis were involved in killing. In an in vivo experiment, substantial growth inhibition of HROC24 xenografts was observed after HDP therapy and, surprisingly, also after NK11 treatment. These promising data underline the high potential of HDPs for oncolytic therapies and may provide a rationale for optimizing preclinical treatment schedules based on NK-2.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are important effector molecules of the innate immune system of all species. AMPs are highly selective and can be used as lead structures for the development of new drugs complementing standard antibiotic therapies. Understanding the crucial parameters of peptide-membrane interactions is necessary for elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of action. Phospholipid monolayers, as simple 2D models of the membrane surface, can be effectively used for studies of peptide-membrane interactions. The present study is focused on the recently discovered peptide arenicin-1 (Ar-1), which possesses antibacterial and antifungal activities. A linear derivative with serine residues instead of cysteines (C/S-Ar-1) was additionally used to investigate the influence of the AMP on the phase behavior of lipid monolayers at the air/liquid interface. Using the Langmuir balance technique and IRRAS allows us to conclude that both original and modified arenicins reveal a strong influence on the phase transition of anionic phospholipids (fluidization of the lipid hydrocarbon chains), whereas the thermodynamic properties of the zwitterionic phospholipid layers are not affected. A strong effect of the modified peptide on the ordering of negatively charged phospholipids at the air-water interface compared to zwitterionic phospholipids has been observed using GIXD measurements, supported by IRRAS simulations for the spectral range corresponding to the lipid hydrocarbon chains. At lateral pressures above 30 mN/m, both peptides are squeezed out from zwitterionic lipid monolayers, but remains attached to and partly incorporated in anionic lipid monolayers. This study points at the importance of the interplay between hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions for the membrane disruption by AMPs.
Equine sarcoid is a topically accessible model for the evaluation of anticancer peptides acting by physical membrane disruption avoiding the complexity of a systemic application. We aim at evaluating and improving natural peptides for host defence as lead structures, where we focus on the cationic and amphipathic peptide NK-2. Cytotoxicity tests, fluorescence microscopy and a chip-based biosensor, which enabled real-time monitoring of cell metabolism, were applied. Cancer cell killing was dynamic with an initial phase of increased cellular respiration, followed by membrane destruction. NK-2 was substantially improved and shortened. Novel peptides exhibited a fivefold improved activity against sarcoid cells, while haemolysis remained almost unaltered. Similar Zeta potential and similar amount of surface phosphatidylserine of sarcoid and normal skin cells are responsible for a lack of selectivity between these two cell types.
Most chemotherapeutics harm normal cells causing severe side effects and induce the development of resistance in cancer cells. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), recognized as anti-cancer agents, may overcome these limitations. The most studied mechanism underlying multi-drug resistance (MDR) is the over-expression of cell membrane transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which extrudes a variety of hydrophobic drugs. Additionally, P-gp contributes to cell membrane composition and increases the net negative charge on cell surface. We postulated that NK-lysin derived cationic peptide NK-2 might discriminate and preferentially eliminate P-gp over-expressing cancer cells. To test this hypothesis, we employed MDR non-small cell lung carcinoma (NCI-H460/R) and colorectal carcinoma (DLD1-TxR) cell lines with high P-gp expression. MDR cancer cells that survived NK-2 treatment had decreased P-gp expression and were more susceptible to doxorubicin. We found that NK-2 more readily eliminated P-gp high-expressing cells. Acting in carpet-like manner NK-2 co-localized with P-gp on the MDR cancer cell membrane. The inhibition of P-gp reduced the NK-2 effect in MDR cancer cells and, vice versa, NK-2 decreased P-gp transport activity. In conclusion, NK-2 could modulate MDR in unique way, eliminating the P-gp high-expressing cells from heterogeneous cancers and making them more vulnerable to classical drug treatment.
The interaction of selected endotoxin preparations (lipid A from Erwinia carotovora and LPS Re and Ra from Salmonella enterica sv. Minnesota strains R595 and R60, respectively) with selected bile acids was investigated biophysically. Endotoxin aggregates were analyzed for their gel-to-liquid crystalline phase behavior, the type of their aggregates, the conformation of particular functional groups, and their Zeta potential in the absence and presence of the bile acids by applying Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, measurements of the electrophoretic mobility, and synchrotron radiation X-ray scattering. In addition, the ability of the endotoxins to induce cytokines in human mononuclear cells was tested in the absence and presence of varying concentrations of bile acids. The data show that the endotoxin:bile acid interaction is not governed by Coulomb forces, rather a hydrophobic interaction takes place. This leads to an enhanced formation of the inherent cubic aggregate structures of the endotoxins, concomitant with a slight disaggregation, as evidenced by freeze-fracture electron microscopy. Parallel to this, the addition of bile acids increased the bioactivity of lipid A and, to a lower degree, also that of the tested rough mutant LPS at lower concentrations of the endotoxin preparation, a finding similar as reported for the interaction of other agents such as hemoglobin. These data imply that there are general mechanisms that govern the expression of biological activities of endotoxins.
To improve the low antimicrobial activity of LF11, an 11-mer peptide derived from human lactoferricin, mutant sequences were designed based on the defined structure of LF11 in the lipidic environment. Thus, deletion of noncharged polar residues and strengthening of the hydrophobic N-terminal part upon adding a bulky hydrophobic amino acid or N-acylation resulted in enhanced antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, which correlated with the peptides degree of perturbation of bacterial membrane mimics. Nonacylated and N-acylated peptides exhibited different effects at a molecular level. Nonacylated peptides induced segregation of peptide-enriched and peptide-poor lipid domains in negatively charged bilayers, although N-acylated peptides formed small heterogeneous domains resulting in a higher degree of packing defects. Additionally, only N-acylated peptides perturbed the lateral packing of neutral lipids and exhibited increased permeability of E. coli lipid vesicles. The latter did not correlate with the extent of improvement of the antimicrobial activity, which could be explained by the fact that elevated binding of N-acylated peptides to lipopolysaccharides of the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria seems to counteract the elevated membrane permeabilization, reflected in the respective minimal inhibitory concentration for E. coli. The antimicrobial activity of the peptides correlated with an increase of membrane curvature stress and hence bilayer instability. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that only the N-acylated peptides induced tubular protrusions from the outer membrane, whereas all peptides caused detachment of the outer and inner membrane of E. coli bacteria. Viability tests demonstrated that these bacteria were dead before onset of visible cell lysis.
Modification of the membrane lipid phosphatidylglycerol (PG) of Staphylococcus aureus by enzymatic transfer of a l-lysine residue leading to lysyl-PG converts the net charge of PG from -1 to +1 and is thought to confer resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Lysyl-PG synthesis and translocation to the outer leaflet of the bacterial membrane are achieved by the membrane protein MprF. Consequently, mutants lacking a functional mprF gene are in particular vulnerable to the action of AMPs. Hence, we aim at elucidating whether and to which extent lysyl-PG modulates membrane binding, insertion, and permeabilization by various AMPs. Lysyl-PG was incorporated into artificial lipid bilayers, mimicking the cytoplasmic membrane of S. aureus. Moreover, we determined the activity of the peptides against a clinical isolate of S. aureus strain SA113 and two mutants lacking a functional mprF gene and visualized peptide-induced ultrastructural changes of bacteria by transmission electron microscopy. The studied peptides were: (i) NK-2, an ?-helical fragment of mammalian NK-lysin, (ii) arenicin-1, a lugworm ?-sheet peptide, and (iii) bee venom melittin. Biophysical data obtained by FRET spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and electrical measurements with planar lipid bilayers were correlated with the biological activities of the peptides. They strongly support the hypothesis that peptide-membrane interactions are a prerequisite for eradication of S. aureus. However, degree and mode of modulation of membrane properties such as fluidity, capacitance, and conductivity were unique for each of the peptides. Altogether, our data support and underline the significance of lysyl-PG for S. aureus resistance to AMPs.
Antimicrobial peptides are promising anti-cancer agents with a unique mode of action. We established the usage of a chip-based sensor to monitor the dynamic interplay between cells on the chip and peptides and compared it with endpoint tests. Human neuroblastoma cancer cells and spontaneously immortalized non-cancer keratinocytes were perfused with representative peptides (NK-2, NK11, and melittin). The sensor system enabled continuous recording of cell layer impedance (adhesion/confluence), oxygen consumption (respiration) and extracellular acidification (glycolysis) and provided insights in cell damage, stress response and recovery. Cells responded differentially to peptide treatment. During perfusion, peptides accumulated on the cell surface until they reached a critical concentration. Preceding to cell death, melittin triggered glycolysis, suggesting stress response. NK-2 induced no change in energy metabolism, but led to an increase in impedance, i.e. a temporarily altered morphology, which appeared to be an excellent parameter to detect subtle structural changes of cell layers.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a severe infectious disease with high mortality, and no effective therapy is actually known. In the case of Gram-negative bacteria, endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides) are known to be responsible for the strong inflammation reaction leading to the systemic infection. Peptides based on endotoxin-binding domains of human or animal proteins represent a promising approach in sepsis research. Although so far no medicament is available, the progress in recent years might lead to a breakthrough in this field. In this review, recent investigations are summarised, which may lead to an understanding of the mechanisms of action of peptides to suppress the inflammation reaction in vitro and in vivo (animal models) and thus may allow the development of effective anti-septic drugs.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is naturally resistant to many antibiotics, and infections caused by this organism are a serious threat, especially to hospitalized patients. The intrinsic low permeability of P. aeruginosa to antibiotics results from the coordinated action of several mechanisms, such as the presence of restrictive porins and the expression of multidrug efflux pump systems. Our goal was to develop antimicrobial peptides with an improved bacterial membrane-permeabilizing ability, so that they enhance the antibacterial activity of antibiotics. We carried out a structure activity relationship analysis to investigate the parameters that govern the permeabilizing activity of short (8- to 12-amino-acid) lactoferricin-derived peptides. We used a new class of constitutional and sequence-dependent descriptors called PEDES (peptide descriptors from sequence) that allowed us to predict (Spearmans ? = 0.74; P < 0.001) the permeabilizing activity of a new peptide generation. To study if peptide-mediated permeabilization could neutralize antibiotic resistance mechanisms, the most potent peptides were combined with antibiotics, and the antimicrobial activities of the combinations were determined on P. aeruginosa strains whose mechanisms of resistance to those antibiotics had been previously characterized. A subinhibitory concentration of compound P2-15 or P2-27 sensitized P. aeruginosa to most classes of antibiotics tested and counteracted several mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, including loss of the OprD porin and overexpression of several multidrug efflux pump systems. Using a mouse model of lethal infection, we demonstrated that whereas P2-15 and erythromycin were unable to protect mice when administered separately, concomitant administration of the compounds afforded long-lasting protection to one-third of the animals.
The structures of two antimicrobial peptides (arenicin Ar-1 and its linear derivative C/S-Ar-1) are studied in different solutions and at the air-water interface using spectroscopic methods such as circular dichroism (CD) and infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS) as well as grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXD) and specular X-ray reflectivity (XR). Both peptides exhibit similar structures in solution. In the buffer used for most of the experiments the main secondary structure elements are 22?% ?-turn, 38?% ?-sheet and 38?% random coil. The amphiphilic peptides are surface-active and form a Gibbs monolayer at the air-buffer interface. The surface activity is drastically increased by increasing the ionic strength of the subphase. The ?-sheet layer is quite stable and can be compressed to higher surface pressures. This adsorption layer is very crystalline. Bragg peaks corresponding to an interstrand distance of 4.78 Å and to an end-to-end distance have been observed. This end-to-end distance can be connected with the observed differences in the layer thickness leading to the assumption that the peptides form a hairpin which is bended depending on the interactions with the counterions.
Entry of endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or lipid A) into the blood stream is causative for the emergence of sepsis and septic shock with all its pathophysiological consequences.(1) Serum contains a whole variety of proteins that interact with endotoxin. As large as the number of different proteins interacting with endotoxin, as broad are the consequences of these interactions. Serum proteins can either enhance cell activation by endotoxin or attenuate the cellular response, they can detoxify and eliminate endotoxin from the blood stream. In this chapter we summarize work on the investigation of the interaction of endotoxins with serum proteins. In four paragraphs we focus on proteins involved in the endotoxin-induced immune cell activation, detection by immunoglobulins, the transport of endotoxins and on proteins and peptides with the capability to neutralize the biological effects of endotoxin. There is a multitude of studies analyzing the interactions between serum proteins and endotoxins, however, with great differences in the source and quality of the endotoxins used. The number of studies dealing with chemically well defined endotoxin structures are quite limited. In addition, though lipid A is the biologically active entity, the "endotoxic principle", of LPS, the majority of studies was performed with LPS. Therefore, to be comprehensive, we included also studies dealing with LPS and not with lipid A if fundamental scientific problems were addressed. In that cases, we have to be aware that there may be differences in the protein interactions of lipid A and LPS, and we tried to emphasize this point in the respective paragraphs.
Phosphatidylglycerol is a widely used mimetic to study the effects of AMPs (antimicrobial peptides) on the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane. However, the antibacterial activities of novel NK-2-derived AMPs could not be sufficiently explained by using this simple model system. Since the LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-containing outer membrane is the first barrier of Gram-negative bacteria, in the present study we investigated interactions of NK-2 and a shortened variant with viable Escherichia coli WBB01 and Proteus mirabilis R45, and with model membranes composed of LPS isolated from these two strains. Differences in net charge and charge distribution of the two LPS have been proposed to be responsible for the differential sensitivity of the respective bacteria to other AMPs. As imaged by TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and AFM (atomic force microscopy), NK-2-mediated killing of these bacteria was corroborated by structural alterations of the outer and inner membranes, the release of E. coli cytoplasma, and the formation of unique fibrous structures inside P. mirabilis, suggesting distinct and novel intracellular targets. NK-2 bound to and intercalated into LPS bilayers, and eventually induced the formation of transient heterogeneous lesions in planar lipid bilayers. However, the discriminative activity of NK-2 against the two bacterial strains was independent of membrane intercalation and lesion formation, which both were indistinguishable for the two LPS. Instead, differences in activity originated from the LPS-binding step, which could be demonstrated by NK-2 attachment to intact bacteria, and to solid-supported LPS bilayers on a surface acoustic wave biosensor.
We have synthesized a series of short peptides (17 to 20 amino acids), originally derived from Limulus anti-lipopolysaccharide factor LALF, which were primarily designed to act as antimicrobial agents as well as neutralizers of bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS), Here, two selected peptides, a 17- and a 19-mer, were characterized physicochemically and in biological test systems. The secondary structure of the peptides indicates essentially a ?-sheet including antiparallel strands, the latter being reduced when the peptides bind to LPS. A very strong exothermic binding due to attractive Coulomb interactions governs the LPS-peptide reaction, which additionally leads to a fluidization of the acyl chains of LPS. A comparison of the interaction of the peptide with negatively charged phosphatidylserine shows in contrast a rigidification of the acyl chains of the lipid. Finally, the biological assays reveal a diverging behaviour of the two peptides, with higher antibacterial activity of the 17-mer, but a much higher activity of the 19-mer in its ability to inhibit the LPS-induced cytokine production in human mononuclear cells.
An analysis of the interaction of the NK-lysin derived peptide NK-2 and of analogs thereof with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin) was performed to determine the most important biophysical parameters for an effective LPS neutralization. We used microcalorimetry, FTIR spectroscopy, Zeta potential measurements, and small-angle X-ray scattering to analyze the peptide:LPS binding enthalpy, the accessible LPS surface charge, the fluidity of the LPS hydrocarbon chains, their phase transition enthalpy change, the aggregate structure of LPS, and how these parameters are modulated by the peptides. We conclude that (i) a high peptide:LPS binding affinity, which is facilitated by electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions and which leads to a positive Zeta potential, (ii) the formation of peptide-enriched domains, which destabilize the lipid packing, demonstrated by a drastic decrease of phase transition enthalpy change of LPS, and (iii) the multilamellarization of the LPS aggregate structure are crucial for an effective endotoxin neutralization by cationic peptides.
Arenicin-1 (Ar-1) is a beta-sheeted antimicrobial peptide from the marine lugworm Arenicola marina. To elucidate the significance of its unique 18-residue cyclic structure and of six cationic arginines for its biological activity and its interaction with biomembranes, we synthesized one linear peptide in which the two cysteines were exchanged for serines (C/S-Ar-1) and a cyclic peptide in which all arginines were replaced by lysines (R/K-Ar-1). We addressed antibacterial and hemolytic activities, the impact of the peptides on bacterial morphology, and their binding to, intercalation into, and permeabilization of model membranes composed of phospholipids or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). In accordance with high salt concentration in sea water, the antibacterial activity of Ar-1 was almost insensitive to high NaCl concentrations. In contrast, the linear derivative lost activity under these conditions against polymyxin B-resistant Proteus mirabilis. Ar-1 intercalated into phospholipid and LPS membranes and formed heterogeneous and short-lived lesions. However, when the peptide was present in both membrane leaflets, it formed defined pores. This characteristic was not observed for the linear derivative C/S-Ar-1. Apparently, the disulfide bond provides conforma-tional stability, which has an impact on salt tolerance, prevents fast degradation by trypsin, and is a prerequisite for the formation of structurally defined pores.
Entry ofendotoxin (lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or lipid A) into the blood stream is causative for the emergence of sepsis and septic shock with all its pathophysiological consequences. Serum contains a whole variety of proteins that interact with endotoxin. As large as the number of different proteins interacting with endotoxin, as broad are the consequences of these interactions. Serum proteins can either enhance cell activation by endotoxin or attenuate the cellular response, they can detoxify and eliminate endotoxin from the blood stream. In this chapter we summarize work on the investigation of the interaction of endotoxins with serum proteins. In four paragraphs we focus on proteins involved in the endotoxin-induced immune cell activation, detection by immunoglobulins, the transport of endotoxins and on proteins and peptides with the capability to neutralize the biological effects ofendotoxin (Fig. 1). There is a multitude of studies analyzing the interactions between serum proteins and endotoxins, however, with great differences in the source and quality of the endotoxins used. The number of studies dealing with chemically well defined endotoxin structures are quite limited. In addition, though lipid A is the biologically active entity, the "endotoxic principle", of LPS, the majority of studies was performed with LPS. Therefore, to be comprehensive, we included also studies dealing with LPS and not with lipid A if fundamental scientific problems were addressed. In that cases, we have to be aware that there may be differences in the protein interactions of lipid A and LPS, and we tried to emphasize this point in the respective paragraphs.
Some antimicrobial peptides have emerged as potential anticancer agents. In contrast to chemotherapeutics, they act primarily by physical disruption of the cancer cell membrane. Selective targeting of these cationic peptides still remains elusive. We focus on the interaction of ?-helical peptides NK-2, cathelicidin LL32, and melittin with PC-3 prostate cancer cells, and we provide strong evidence that, amongst the anionic glycans covering the cell surface, sulphated carbohydrates rather than sialic acids are the preferred interaction sites of the peptides. To test the significance of cell surface carbohydrates, a glycan microarray screen with fluorescently labelled peptides has been performed. Amongst 465 mammalian glycan structures on the chip, more than 20 different sulphated glycans were detected as the preferred binding partners of the peptide NK-2. The amount of peptide bound to sialic acid containing oligosaccharides was close to background level. These findings were consistent with microcalorimetric experiments revealing high and low binding enthalpies of peptides to sulphated carbohydrates and to sialic acid, respectively. Enzymatic desialylation of PC-3 cells did not affect peptide-mediated changes in cell metabolism, cell membrane permeabilisation, killing rate, and kinetics. Finally, the cytotoxicity of all peptides could be drastically impaired through the competitive inhibition by chondroitin sulphate, but not by sialic acid and sialylated fetuin.
The bacterial cell wall represents the primary target for antimicrobial agents. Microbial destruction is accompanied by the release of potent immunostimulatory membrane constituents. Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria release a variety of lipoproteins and peptidoglycan fragments. Gram-positive bacteria additionally provide lipoteichoic acids, whereas Gram-negative bacteria also release lipopolysaccharide (LPS, endotoxin), essential component of the outer leaflet of the bacterial cell wall and one of the most potent immunostimulatory molecules known. Immune activation therefore can be considered as an adverse effect of antimicrobial destruction and killing during anti-infective treatment. In contrast to antibiotics, the use of cationic amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides allows both effective bacterial killing and inhibition of the immunostimulatory effect of the released bacterial membrane constituents. The administration of antimicrobial peptides alone or in combination with antibiotic agents thus represents a novel strategy in the antiinfective treatment with potentially important beneficial aspects. Here, data are presented which describe immunological and clinical aspects of the use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as therapeutic agents to treat bacterial infection and neutralize the immunostimulatory activity of released cell wall constituents.
The first barrier that an antimicrobial agent must overcome when interacting with its target is the microbial cell wall. In the case of Gram-negative bacteria, additional to the cytoplasmic membrane and the peptidoglycan layer, an outer membrane (OM) is the outermost barrier. The OM has an asymmetric distribution of the lipids with phospholipids and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) located in the inner and outer leaflets, respectively. In contrast, Gram-positive bacteria lack OM and possess a much thicker peptidoglycan layer compared to their Gram-negative counterparts. An additional class of amphiphiles exists in Gram-positives, the lipoteichoic acids (LTA), which may represent important structural components. These long molecules cross-bridge the entire cell envelope with their lipid component inserting into the outer leaflet of the cytoplasmic membrane and the teichoic acid portion penetrating into the peptidoglycan layer. Furthermore, both classes of bacteria have other important amphiphiles, such as lipoproteins, whose importance has become evident only recently. It is not known yet whether any of these amphiphilic components are able to stimulate the immune system under physiological conditions as constituents of intact bacteria. However, all of them have a very high pro-inflammatory activity when released from the cell. Such a release may take place through the interaction with the immune system, or with antibiotics (particularly with those targeting cell wall components), or simply by the bacterial division. Therefore, a given antimicrobial agent must ideally have a double character, namely, it must overcome the bacterial cell wall barrier, without inducing the liberation of the pro-inflammatory amphiphiles. Here, new data are presented which describe the development and use of membrane-active antimicrobial agents, in particular antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and lipopolyamines. In this way, essential progress was achieved, in particular with respect to the inhibition of deleterious consequences of bacterial infections such as severe sepsis and septic shock.
Melittin, the major component of the bee venom, is an amphipathic, cationic peptide with a wide spectrum of biological properties that is being considered as an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent. It modulates multiple cellular functions but the underlying mechanisms are not clearly understood. Here, we report that melittin activates disintegrin-like metalloproteases (ADAMs) and that downstream events likely contribute to the biological effects evoked by the peptide. Melittin stimulated the proteolysis of ADAM10 and ADAM17 substrates in human neutrophil granulocytes, endothelial cells and murine fibroblasts. In human HaCaT keratinocytes, melittin induced shedding of the adhesion molecule E-cadherin and release of TGF-?, which was accompanied by transactivation of the EGF receptor and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. This was followed by functional consequences such as increased keratinocyte proliferation and enhanced cell migration. Evidence is provided that ATP release and activation of purinergic P2 receptors are involved in melittin-induced ADAM activation. E-cadherin shedding and EGFR phosphorylation were dose-dependently reduced in the presence of ATPases or P2 receptor antagonists. The involvement of P2 receptors was underscored in experiments with HEK cells, which lack the P2X7 receptor and showed strikingly increased response to melittin stimulation after transfection with this receptor. Our study provides new insight into the mechanism of melittin function which should be of interest particularly in the context of its potential use as an anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer agent.
Myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate (MARCKS) is an intrinsically unfolded protein with a conserved cationic effector domain, which mediates the cross-talk between several signal transduction pathways. Transcription of MARCKS is increased by stimulation with bacterial LPS. We determined that MARCKS and MARCKS-related protein specifically bind to LPS and that the addition of the MARCKS effector peptide inhibited LPS-induced production of TNF-? in mononuclear cells. The LPS binding site within the effector domain of MARCKS was narrowed down to a heptapeptide that binds to LPS in an extended conformation as determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. After LPS stimulation, MARCKS moved from the plasma membrane to FYVE-positive endosomes, where it colocalized with LPS. MARCKS-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) responded to LPS with increased IL-6 production compared with the matched wild-type MEFs. Similarly, small interfering RNA knockdown of MARCKS also increased LPS signaling, whereas overexpression of MARCKS inhibited LPS signaling. TLR4 signaling was enhanced by the ablation of MARCKS, which had no effect on stimulation by TLR2, TLR3, and TLR5 agonists. These findings demonstrate that MARCKS contributes to the negative regulation of the cellular response to LPS.
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