Endotoxins (LPS) are highly potent immune stimulatory molecules and are mainly known for triggering Gram-negative sepsis. However, besides their toxic effects, this stimulatory function may be advantageous, for example when used as an adjuvant during vaccination. Thus, there is always a narrow range between the useful wake-up of the immune system and its overwhelming reaction, which can lead to diseases like sepsis. This raises the question of which conformational properties are responsible for making the LPS aggregates more or less potent. As described previously, the size, type and form of LPS aggregates play a major role in their immune stimulatory activity. In this study we investigate the role of these parameters. On the one hand, we use a peptide (Pep19-2.5; Aspidasept) that causes a change of the LPS aggregate structure into a less toxic state; on the other hand, we use a potent immune stimulating peptide (Hb?-35), leading to higher toxicity. We have found opposing effects on LPS aggregate conformations allowing a better understanding of the processes of immune stimulation.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are important components of the innate immune system of animals, plants, fungi and bacteria and are recently under discussion as promising alternatives to conventional antibiotics. We have investigated two cecropin-like synthetic peptides, Gm1, which corresponds to the natural overall uncharged Galleria mellonella native peptide and ?Gm1, a modified overall positively charged Gm1 variant. We have analysed these peptides for their potential to inhibit the endotoxin-induced secretion of tumour necrosis factor-? (TNF-?) from human mononuclear cells. Furthermore, in a conventional microbiological assay, the ability of these peptides to inhibit the growth of the rough mutant bacteria Salmonella enterica Minnesota R60 and the polymyxin B-resistant Proteus mirabilis R45 was investigated and atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements were performed to characterize the morphology of the bacteria treated by the two peptides. We have also studied their cytotoxic properties in a haemolysis assay to clarify potential toxic effects. Our data revealed for both peptides minor anti-inflammatory (anti-endotoxin) activity, but demonstrated antimicrobial activity with differences depending on the endotoxin composition of the respective bacteria. In accordance with the antimicrobial assay, AFM data revealed a stronger morphology change of the R45 bacteria than for the R60. Furthermore, Gm1 had a stronger effect on the bacteria than ?Gm1, leading to a different morphology regarding indentations and coalescing of bacterial structures. The findings verify the biophysical measurements with the peptides on model systems. Both peptides lack any haemolytic activity up to an amount of 100?g/ml, making them suitable as new anti-infective agents.
Natural occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are important components of the innate immune system of animals and plants. They are considered to be promising alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Here we present a comparative study of two synthetic peptides: Gm1, corresponding to the natural overall uncharged peptide from Galleria mellonella (Gm) and ?Gm1, a modified overall positively charged Gm1 variant. We have studied the interaction of the peptides with lipid membranes composed of different kinds of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and dimyristoylphosphatidylglycerol (DMPG), in some cases also dimyristoylphosphatidylethanolamine (DMPE) as representative lipid components of Gram-negative bacterial membranes, by applying Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Förster resonance energy transfer spectroscopy (FRET), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Gm1 generates a destabilizing effect on the gel to liquid crystalline phase transition of the acyl chains of the lipids, as deduced from a decrease in the phase transition temperature and enthalpy, suggesting a fluidization, whereas ?Gm1 led to the opposite behavior. Further, FTIR analysis of the functional groups of the lipids participating in the interaction with the peptides indicated a shift in the band position and intensity of the asymmetric PO2(-) stretching vibration originating from the lipid phosphate groups, a consequence of the sterical changes in the head group region. Interestingly, FRET spectroscopy showed a similar intercalation of both peptides into the DMPG and LPS, but much less into the DMPE membrane systems. These results are discussed in the light of a possible use of the peptides as antimicrobial and anti-endotoxin drugs.
There are several human serum proteins for which no clear role is yet known. Among these is the abundant serum protein beta2-glycoprotein-I (?2GPI), which is known to bind to negatively charged phospholipids as well as to bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and was therefore proposed to play a role in the immune response. To understand the details of these interactions, a biophysical analysis of the binding of ?2GPI to LPS and phosphatidylserine (PS) was performed. The data indicate only a moderate tendency of the protein (1) to influence the LPS-induced cytokine production in vitro, (2) to react exothermally with LPS in a non-saturable way, and (3) to change its local microenvironment upon LPS association. Additionally, we found that the protein binds more strongly to phosphatidylserine (PS) than to LPS. Furthermore, ?2GPI converts the LPS bilayer aggregates into a stronger multilamellar form, and reduces the fluidity of the hydrocarbon moiety of LPS due to a rigidification of the acyl chains. From these data it can be concluded that ?2GPI plays a role as an immune-modulating agent, but there is much less evidence for a role in immune defense against bacterial toxins such as LPS.
The methanoarchaea Methanosphaera stadtmanae and Methanobrevibacter smithii are known to be part of the indigenous human gut microbiota. Although the immunomodulatory effects of bacterial gut commensals have been studied extensively in the last decade, the impact of methanoarchaea in human's health and disease was rarely examined. Consequently, we studied and report here on the effects of M. stadtmanae and M. smithii on human immune cells. Whereas exposure to M. stadtmanae leads to substantial release of proinflammatory cytokines in monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs), only weak activation was detected after incubation with M. smithii. Phagocytosis of M. stadtmanae by moDCs was demonstrated by confocal microscopy as well as transmission electronic microscopy (TEM) and shown to be crucial for cellular activation by using specific inhibitors. Both strains, albeit to different extents, initiate a maturation program in moDCs as revealed by up-regulation of the cell-surface receptors CD86 and CD197 suggesting additional activation of adaptive immune responses. Furthermore, M. stadtmanae and M. smithii were capable to alter the gene expression of antimicrobial peptides in moDCs to different extents. Taken together, our findings strongly argue that the archaeal gut inhabitants M. stadtmanae and M. smithii are specifically recognized by the human innate immune system. Moreover, both strains are capable of inducing an inflammatory cytokine response to different extents arguing that they might have diverse immunomodulatory functions. In conclusion, we propose that the impact of intestinal methanoarchaea on pathological conditions involving the gut microbiota has been underestimated until now.
We have performed freeze-fracture replica immunogold labelling of endotoxin preparations (lipid A and deep rough mutant LPS Re from Salmonella enterica sv. Minnesota), i.e. adding the endotoxins to human monocytes, labelling with monoclonal Abs recognizing either lipid A or LPS Re (A6 and A20 respectively), and fixing with immunogold secondary Ab. We have found that the endotoxins intercalated into the cell membranes with subsequent internalization by the cells. Surprisingly, membrane uptake took place only in the inner, plasmic leaflet of the plasma membrane, but there was no uptake of the outer leaflet for both compounds. Remarkable labelling could be also found for the two membranes of the nuclear envelope-in the case of lipid A only at the plasmic leaflet, but in the case of LPS Re on both leaflets. Isothermal calorimetric titration of the AB A20 with LPS and phospholipids showed that the Ab may bind not only to LPS but also to negatively charged phosphatidylserine. These results are discussed in the frame of the published concepts of cell activation induced by the endotoxins, i.e. how they are able to cause a conformational change of signalling proteins, such as the TLR4/MD2 complex.
As a defined model of outer membranes of gram negative bacteria, we investigated the interaction of monolayers of lipopolysacchrides from Salmonella enterica rough strains R90 (LPS Ra) with natural and synthetic peptides. The fine structures perpendicular to the membrane plane and the ion distribution near the interface were determined by specular x-ray reflectivity (XRR) and grazing-incidence x-ray fluorescence (GIXF) in the presence and absence of divalent cations. The unique combination of XRR and GIXF allows for the quantitative identification of different modes of interactions in a high spatial resolution, which cannot be assessed by other experimental methods. Natural fish protamine disrupts the stratified membrane structures in the absence of Ca(2+) ions, while staying away from the membrane surface in the presence of Ca(2+) ions. In contrast, synthetic antisepsis peptide Pep 19-2.5 weakly adsorbs to the membrane and stays near the uncharged sugar units even in the absence of Ca(2+). In the presence of Ca(2+), Pep 19-2.5 can reach the negatively charged inner core without destroying the barrier capability against ions.
Bacterial infections are known to cause severe health-threatening conditions, including sepsis. All attempts to get this disease under control failed in the past, and especially in times of increasing antibiotic resistance, this leads to one of the most urgent medical challenges of our times. We designed a peptide to bind with high affinity to endotoxins, one of the most potent pathogenicity factors involved in triggering sepsis. The peptide Pep19-2.5 reveals high endotoxin neutralization efficiency in vitro, and here, we demonstrate its antiseptic/anti-inflammatory effects in vivo in the mouse models of endotoxemia, bacteremia, and cecal ligation and puncture, as well as in an ex vivo model of human tissue. Furthermore, we show that Pep19-2.5 can bind and neutralize not only endotoxins but also other bacterial pathogenicity factors, such as those from the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This broad neutralization efficiency and the additive action of the peptide with common antibiotics makes it an exceptionally appropriate drug candidate against bacterial sepsis and also offers multiple other medication opportunities.
Two fragments of the antimicrobial peptide LL-37 (LL-32 and LL-20) have been characterized in adsorption layers at the air/buffer interface by infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS) and X-ray reflectivity (XR) measurements. As shown in previous work, LL-32 exhibits an increased antimicrobial activity compared to LL-37, while LL-20 is almost not active. It is shown in this work that the peptides differ drastically in their surface activity (equilibrium adsorption pressure) and their secondary structure, when they are adsorbed to the air/buffer interface. As concluded from the CD spectra, both peptides are unstructured in bulk. That means that the adsorption of the peptides to the air/buffer interface is connected to a secondary structure change. While LL-32 transforms into an ?-helix lying flat at the buffer surface, with a helix diameter of 17?, LL-20 adopts a partly unstructured conformation. The dichroic ratio of LL-20 is reduced and the electron density profile shows the formation of a second layer. The ability of LL-32 to form a complete ?-helical structure at the interface is in good agreement with its higher antimicrobial activity.
Endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides, LPS) are one of the strongest immunostimulators in nature, responsible for beneficial effects at low, and pathophysiological effects at high concentrations, the latter frequently leading to sepsis and septic shock associated with high mortality in critical care settings. There are no drugs specifically targeting the pathophysiology of sepsis, and new therapeutic agents are therefore urgently needed. The lipopolyamines are a novel class of small molecules designed to sequester and neutralize LPS. To understand the mechanisms underlying the binding and neutralization of LPS toxicity, we have performed detailed biophysical analyses of the interactions of LPS with candidate lipopolyamines which differ in their potencies of LPS neutralization. We examined gel-to-liquid crystalline phase behavior of LPS and of its supramolecular aggregate structures in the absence and presence of lipopolyamines, the ability of such compounds to incorporate into different membrane systems, and the thermodynamics of the LPS:lipopolyamine binding. We have found that the mechanisms which govern the inactivation process of LPS obey similar rules as found for other active endotoxin neutralizers such as certain antimicrobial peptides.
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.
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.
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.
Bacterial endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides (LPS)) are strong elicitors of the human immune system by interacting with serum and membrane proteins such as lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) and CD14 with high specificity. At LPS concentrations as low as 0.3 ng/ml, such interactions may lead to severe pathophysiological effects, including sepsis and septic shock. One approach to inhibit an uncontrolled inflammatory reaction is the use of appropriate polycationic and amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides, here called synthetic anti-LPS peptides (SALPs). We designed various SALP structures and investigated their ability to inhibit LPS-induced cytokine secretion in vitro, their protective effect in a mouse model of sepsis, and their cytotoxicity in physiological human cells. Using a variety of biophysical techniques, we investigated selected SALPs with considerable differences in their biological responses to characterize and understand the mechanism of LPS inactivation by SALPs. Our investigations show that neutralization of LPS by peptides is associated with a fluidization of the LPS acyl chains, a strong exothermic Coulomb interaction between the two compounds, and a drastic change of the LPS aggregate type from cubic into multilamellar, with an increase in the aggregate sizes, inhibiting the binding of LBP and other mammalian proteins to the endotoxin. At the same time, peptide binding to phospholipids of human origin (e.g., phosphatidylcholine) does not cause essential structural changes, such as changes in membrane fluidity and bilayer structure. The absence of cytotoxicity is explained by the high specificity of the interaction of the peptides with LPS.
Lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) from Gram-negative bacteria are strong elicitors of the human immune systems. There is strong evidence that aggregates and not monomers of LPS play a decisive role at least in the initial stages of cell activation of immune cells such as mononuclear cells. In previous reports, it was shown that the biologically most active part of enterobacterial LPS, hexa-acyl bisphosphorylated lipid A, adopts a particular supramolecular conformation, a cubic aggregate structure. However, little is known about the size and morphology of these aggregates, regarding the fact that LPS may have strong variations in the length of the saccharide chains (various rough mutant and smooth-form LPS). Thus, in the present paper, several techniques for the determination of details of the aggregate morphology such as freeze-fracture and cryo-electron microscopy, analytical ultracentrifugation, laser backscattering analysis, and small-angle X-ray scattering were applied for various endotoxin (lipid A and different LPS) preparations. The data show a variety of different morphologies not only for different endotoxins but also when comparing different applied techniques. The data are interpreted with respect to the suitability of the single techniques, in particular on the basis of available literature data.
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.
Systemic bacterial infections are associated with high mortality. The access of bacteria or constituents thereof to systemic circulation induces the massive release of immunomodulatory mediators, ultimately causing tissue hypoperfusion and multiple-organ failure despite adequate antibiotic treatment. Lipid A, the "endotoxic principle" of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is one of the major bacterial immunostimuli. Here we demonstrate the biological efficacy of rationally designed new synthetic antilipopolysaccharide peptides (SALPs) based on the Limulus anti-LPS factor for systemic application. We show efficient inhibition of LPS-induced cytokine release and protection from lethal septic shock in vivo, whereas cytotoxicity was not observed under physiologically relevant conditions and concentrations. The molecular mechanism of LPS neutralization was elucidated by biophysical techniques. The lipid A part of LPS is converted from its "endotoxic conformation," the cubic aggregate structure, into an inactive multilamellar structure, and the binding affinity of the peptide to LPS exceeds those of known LPS-binding proteins, such as LPS-binding protein (LBP). Our results thus delineate a novel therapeutic strategy for the clinical management of patients with septic shock.
A model of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria was created by the deposition of a monolayer of purified rough mutant lipopolysaccharides at an air/water interface. The density profiles of monovalent (K(+)) and divalent (Ca(2+)) cations normal to the lipopolysaccharides (LPS) monolayers were investigated using grazing-incidence X-ray fluorescence. In the absence of Ca(2+), a K(+) concentration peak was found in the negatively charged LPS headgroup region. With the addition of CaCl(2), Ca(2+) ions almost completely displaced K(+) ions from the headgroup region. By integrating the experimentally reconstructed excess ion density profiles, we obtained an accurate measurement of the effective charge density of LPS monolayers. The experimental findings were compared to the results of Monte Carlo simulations based on a coarse-grained minimal model of LPS molecules and showed excellent agreement.
Grazing incidence x-ray scattering techniques and Monte Carlo (MC) simulations are combined to reveal the influence of molecular structure (genetic mutation) and divalent cations on the survival of gram negative bacteria against cationic peptides such as protamine. The former yields detailed structures of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) membranes with minimized radiation damages, while the minimal computer model based on the linearized Poisson-Boltzmann theory allows for the simulation of conformational changes of macromolecules (LPSs and peptides) that occur in the time scale of ms. The complementary combination of the structural characterizations and MC simulation demonstrates that the condensations of divalent ions (Ca2+ or Mg2+) in the negatively charged core saccharides are crucial for bacterial survival.
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.
The architecture of the lipid matrix of Gram-negative bacteria is extremely asymmetric with respect to its lipid distribution: Whereas the inner leaflet is composed of a phospholipid mixture, the outer leaflet is built up by glycolipids. For most Gram-negative species, these glycolipids are lipopolysaccharides, for a few species, however, glycosphingolipids. We describe here our experimental approach and results thereof to get answers on the function of the asymmetric architecture and, in particular of the glycostructure of the outer leaflet (i) for the incorporation of porin channels into the bilayer and their function inside the membrane, (ii) the role of the glycolipid surface in the activation of the complement system, and (iii) the formation of transient lesions or stable pores by the interaction of antimicrobial peptides, e.g. polymyxin B, the bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein BPI, and cathelicidins. Furthermore, we investigated the influence of the glycocomponent on basic biophysical characteristics of glycolipid-containing membranes such as their electric properties and the lateral organization of the glycolipids in the membrane. To this end we established and applied a number of various reconstitution systems of the outer membrane reaching from monolayers at the air-water interface, via solid supported symmetric and asymmetric bilayers, free-standing symmetric and asymmetric bilayers prepared according to Montal-Mueller technique to three-dimensional aggregates such as liposomes. To obtain answers on the questions outlined above, we investigated the influence of the various applied molecules on physical parameters of these model membranes.
Dermcidin (DCD) is an antimicrobial peptide which is constitutively expressed in eccrine sweat glands. By postsecretory proteolytic processing in sweat, the DCD protein gives rise to anionic and cationic DCD peptides with a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Many antimicrobial peptides induce membrane permeabilization as part of their killing mechanism, which is accompanied by a loss of the bacterial membrane potential. In this study we show that there is a time-dependent bactericidal activity of anionic and cationic DCD-derived peptides which is followed by bacterial membrane depolarization. However, DCD-derived peptides do not induce pore formation in the membranes of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. This is in contrast to the mode of action of the cathelicidin LL-37. Interestingly, LL-37 as well as DCD-derived peptides inhibit bacterial macromolecular synthesis, especially RNA and protein synthesis, without binding to microbial DNA or RNA. Binding studies with components of the cell envelope of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and with model membranes indicated that DCD-derived peptides bind to the bacterial envelope but show only a weak binding to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from gram-negative bacteria or to peptidoglycan, lipoteichoic acid, and wall teichoic acid, isolated from Staphylococcus aureus. In contrast, LL-37 binds strongly in a dose-dependent fashion to these components. Altogether, these data indicate that the mode of action of DCD-derived peptides is different from that of the cathelicidin LL-37 and that components of the bacterial cell envelope play a role in the antimicrobial activity of DCD.
Hydramacin-1 is a novel antimicrobial protein recently discovered during investigations of the epithelial defense of the ancient metazoan Hydra. The amino acid sequence of hydramacin-1 shows no sequence homology to any known antimicrobial proteins. Determination of the solution structure revealed that hydramacin-1 possesses a disulfide bridge-stabilized alphabeta motif. This motif is the common scaffold of the knottin protein fold. The structurally closest relatives are the scorpion oxin-like superfamily. Within this superfamily hydramacin-1 establishes a new family of proteins that all share antimicrobial activity. Hydramacin-1 is potently active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria including multi-resistant human pathogenic strains. It leads to aggregation of bacteria as an initial step of its bactericidal mechanism. Aggregated cells are connected via electron-dense contacts and adopt a thorn apple-like morphology. Analysis of the hydramacin-1 structure revealed an unusual distribution of amino acid side chains on the surface. A belt of positively charged residues is sandwiched by two hydrophobic areas. Based on this characteristic surface feature and on biophysical analysis of protein-membrane interactions, we propose a model that describes the aggregation effect exhibited by hydramacin-1.
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.
C-reactive protein (CRP) from the American horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, exhibits complex membrane activities. Here, we describe the behavior of protein and lipid as CRP interacts with model liposomes and bacterial membranes. Limulus C-reactive protein (L-CRP) forms extended fibrilar structures that encapsulate liposomes in the presence of Ca(2+). We have observed structures consistent in size and shape with these fibers bound to the surface of Gram-negative bacteria. The membranes of Limulus CRP-treated bacteria exhibit significantly different mechano-elastic properties than those of untreated bacteria. In vitro, bilayer lipids undergo a rigidification and reorganization of small domains. We suggest that these interactions reflect the proteins role as a primary defense molecule, functioning in the entrapment and killing of potential pathogens.
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.
Here we describe a novel approach for the isolation and biochemical characterization of pathogen-containing compartments from primary cells: We developed a lipid-based procedure to magnetically label the surface of bacteria and visualized the label by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM). We performed infection experiments with magnetically labeled Mycobacterium avium, M. tuberculosis and Listeria monocytogenes and isolated magnetic bacteria-containing phagosomes using a strong magnetic field in a novel free-flow system. Magnetic labeling of M. tuberculosis did not affect the virulence characteristics of the bacteria during infection experiments addressing host cell activation, phagosome maturation delay and replication in macrophages in vitro. Biochemical analyses of the magnetic phagosome-containing fractions provided evidence of an enhanced presence of bacterial antigens and a differential distribution of proteins involved in the endocytic pathway over time as well as cytokine-dependent changes in the phagosomal protein composition. The newly developed method represents a useful approach to characterize and compare pathogen-containing compartments, in order to identify microbial and host cell targets for novel anti-infective strategies.
Human pathogens often produce soluble protein toxins that generate pores inside membranes, resulting in the death of target cells and tissue damage. In pathogenic amoebae, this has been exemplified with amoebapores of the enteric protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Here we characterize acanthaporin, to our knowledge the first pore-forming toxin to be described from acanthamoebae, which are free-living, bacteria-feeding, unicellular organisms that are opportunistic pathogens of increasing importance and cause severe and often fatal diseases. We isolated acanthaporin from extracts of virulent Acanthamoeba culbertsoni by tracking its pore-forming activity, molecularly cloned the gene of its precursor and recombinantly expressed the mature protein in bacteria. Acanthaporin was cytotoxic for human neuronal cells and exerted antimicrobial activity against a variety of bacterial strains by permeabilizing their membranes. The tertiary structures of acanthaporins active monomeric form and inactive dimeric form, both solved by NMR spectroscopy, revealed a currently unknown protein fold and a pH-dependent trigger mechanism of activation.
One major determinant of the efficacy of antibiotics on gram-negative bacteria is the passage through the outer membrane. During transport of the fluoroquinolone enrofloxacin through the trimeric outer membrane protein OmpF of Escherichia coli, the antibiotic interacts with two binding sites within the pore, thus partially blocking the ionic current. The modulation of one affinity site by Mg(2+) reveals further details of binding sites and binding kinetics. At positive membrane potentials, the slow blocking events induced by enrofloxacin in Mg(2+)-free media are converted to flickery sojourns at the highest apparent current level (all three pores flickering). This indicates weaker binding in the presence of Mg(2+). Analysis of the resulting amplitude histograms with ? distributions revealed the rate constants of blocking (k(OB)) and unblocking (k(BO)) in the range of 1,000 to 120,000 s(-1). As expected for a bimolecular reaction, k(OB) was proportional to blocker concentration and k(BO) independent of it. k(OB) was approximately three times lower for enrofloxacin coming from the cis side than from the trans side. The block was not complete, leading to a residual conductivity of the blocked state being ?25% of that of the open state. Interpretation of the results has led to the following model: fast flickering as caused by interaction of Mg(2+) and enrofloxacin is related to the binding site at the trans side, whereas the cis site mediates slow blocking events which are also found without Mg(2+). The difference in the accessibility of the binding sites also explains the dependency of k(OB) on the side of enrofloxacin addition and yields a means of determining the most plausible orientation of OmpF in the bilayer. The voltage dependence suggests that the dipole of the antibiotic has to be adequately oriented to facilitate binding.
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.
Many enveloped viruses, including herpes viruses, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are among the most important human pathogens and are often responsible for coinfections involving ?2 types of viruses. However, therapies that are effective against multiple virus classes are rare. Here we present a new class of synthetic anti-lipopolysaccharide peptides (SALPs) that bind to heparan sulfate moieties on the cell surface and inhibit infection with a variety of enveloped viruses. We demonstrate that SALPs inhibit entry of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2, HBV, and HCV to their respective host cells. Despite their high antiviral efficiency, SALPs were well tolerated, and neither toxicity nor measurable inhibitor-induced adverse effects were observed. Since these broad-spectrum antiviral peptides target a host cell rather than a viral component, they may also be useful for suppression of viruses that are resistant to antiviral drugs.
Dermcidin encodes the anionic amphiphilic peptide DCD-1L, which displays a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity under conditions resembling those in human sweat. Here, we have investigated its mode of antimicrobial activity. We found that DCD-1L interacts preferentially with negatively charged bacterial phospholipids with a helix axis that is aligned flat on a lipid bilayer surface. Upon interaction with lipid bilayers DCD-1L forms oligomeric complexes that are stabilized by Zn(2+). DCD-1L is able to form ion channels in the bacterial membrane, and we propose that Zn(2+)-induced self-assembly of DCD-1L upon interaction with bacterial lipid bilayers is a prerequisite for ion channel formation. These data allow us for the first time to propose a molecular model for the antimicrobial mechanism of a naturally processed human anionic peptide that is active under the harsh conditions present in human sweat.
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