Citation (#278):

The role of tryptophan in the antibacterial activity of a 15-residue bovine lactoferricin peptide

Authors: Haug, B.E., Svendsen, J.S.

Journal: Journal of Peptide Science 2001, 7(4).

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Bovine lactoferricin is a 25-residue antibacterial peptide isolated after gastric cleavage of the iron transporting protein lactoferrin. A 15-residue fragment, FKCRRWQWRMKKLGA of this peptide sustains most of the antibacterial activity. In this truncated sequence, the two Trp residues are found to be essential for antibacterial activity. The anchoring properties of Trp, as have been observed in membrane proteins, are believed to be important for the interaction of Trp containing antibacterial peptides with bacterial cell membranes. We have investigated the molecular properties which make Trp important for the antibacterial activity of the 15-residue peptide by replacing Trp with natural and unnatural aromatic amino acids. This series of peptides was tested for antibacterial activity against Echerichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. We found that neither the hydrogen bonding ability nor the amphipathicity of the indole system are essential properties for the effect of Trp on the antibacterial activity of the peptides. Replacement of Trp with residues containing aromatic hydrocarbon side chains gave the most active peptides. We propose that aromatic hydrocarbon residues are able to position themselves deeper into the bacterial cell membrane, making the peptide more efficient in disrupting the bacterial cell membrane. From our results the size, shape and aromatic character of Trp seem to be the most important features for the activity of this class of Trp containing antibacterial peptides.

Keywords: Antibacterial peptide; Lactoferricin; tryptophan; unnatural aromatic amino acids

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