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Peptide consensus sequence determination for the enhancement of the antimicrobial activity and selectivity of antimicrobial peptides

Authors Almaaytah A, Ajingi Y, Abualhaijaa A, Tarazi S, Alshar’i N, Al-Balas Q

Received 3 August 2016

Accepted for publication 11 November 2016

Published 29 December 2016 Volume 2017:10 Pages 1—17


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Suresh Antony

Ammar Almaaytah,1 Ya’u Ajingi,2 Ahmad Abualhaijaa,2 Shadi Tarazi,2 Nizar Alshar’i,3 Qosay Al-Balas3

1Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan; 2Department of Applied Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science and Arts, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan; 3Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan

Abstract: The rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria is causing a serious threat to the world’s human population. Recent reports have identified bacterial strains displaying pan drug resistance against antibiotics and generating fears among medical health specialists that humanity is on the dawn of entering a post-antibiotics era. Global research is currently focused on expanding the lifetime of current antibiotics and the development of new antimicrobial agents to tackle the problem of antimicrobial resistance. In the present study, we designed a novel consensus peptide named “Pepcon” through peptide consensus sequence determination among members of a highly homologous group of scorpion antimicrobial peptides. Members of this group were found to possess moderate antimicrobial activity with significant toxicity against mammalian cells. The aim of our design method was to generate a novel peptide with an enhanced antimicrobial potency and selectivity against microbial rather than mammalian cells. The results of our study revealed that the consensus peptide displayed potent antibacterial activities against a broad range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Our membrane permeation studies displayed that the peptide efficiently induced membrane damage and consequently led to cell death through the process of cell lysis. The microbial DNA binding assay of the peptide was found to be very weak suggesting that the peptide is not targeting the microbial DNA. Pepcon induced minimal cytotoxicity at the antimicrobial concentrations as the hemolytic activity was found to be zero at the minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs). The results of our study demonstrate that the consensus peptide design strategy is efficient in generating peptides.

Keywords: peptide, scorpion, venom, peptide design, antimicrobial peptides, consensus sequence

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