Membrane interactions and biological activity of antimicrobial peptides from Australian scorpion
UyCT peptides are antimicrobial peptides isolated from the venom of the Australian scorpion. The activity of the UyCT peptides against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria and red blood cells was determined. The membrane interactions of these peptides were evaluated by dye release (DR) of the fluorophore calcein from liposomes and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC); and their secondary structure was determined by circular dichroism (CD). Three different lipid systems were used to mimic red blood cells, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus membranes. UyCT peptides exhibited broad spectrum antimicrobial activity with low MIC for S. aureus and multi-drug resistant Gram negative strains. Peptide combinations showed some synergy enhancing their potency but not hemolytic activity. The UyCT peptides adopted a helical structure in lipid environments and DR results confirmed that the mechanism of action is by disrupting the membrane. ITC data indicated that UyCT peptides preferred prokaryotic rather than eukaryotic membranes. The overall results suggest that UyCT peptides could be pharmaceutical leads for the treatment of Gram negative multiresistant bacterial infections, especially against Acinetobacter baumanni, and candidates for peptidomimetics to enhance their potency and minimize hemolysis.