Abstract: Protegrins are porcine antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that belong to the cathelicidin family of host defense peptides. Protegrin-1 (PG-1), the most investigated member of the protegrin family, is an arginine-rich peptide consisting of 18 amino acid residues, its main chain adopting a β-hairpin structure that is linked by two disulfide bridges. We report on the immune modulatory activity of PG-1 and its analogs in neutralizing bacterial endotoxin and capsular polysaccharides, consequently inhibiting inflammatory mediators’ release from macrophages. We demonstrate that the β-hairpin structure motif stabilized with at least one disulfide bridge is a prerequisite for the immune modulatory activity of this type of AMP.
Abstract: The mucosa and overlying fluid of the female reproductive tract (FRT) are portals for the heterosexual transmission of HIV-1. Toward the ongoing development of topically applied microbicides and mucosal vaccines against HIV-1, it is evermore important to understand how the dynamic FRT mucosa is involved in controlling transmission and infection of HIV-1. Cationic peptides and proteins are the principal innate immune effector molecules of mucosal surfaces, and interact in a combinatorial fashion to modulate HIV-1 infection of the cervix and vagina. While cationic peptides and proteins have historically been categorized as antimicrobial or have other host-benefitting roles, an increasing number of these molecules have been found to augment HIV-1 infection and potentially antagonize host defense. Complex environmental factors such as hormonal fluctuations and/or bacterial and viral co-infections provide additional challenges to both experimentation and interpretation of results. In the context of heterosexual transmission of HIV-1, this review explores how various cationic peptides and proteins participate in modulating host defense against HIV-1 of the cervicovaginal mucosa.
Abstract: Innate immune responses function as a first line of host defense against the development of bacterial infection, and in some cases to preserve the sterility of privileged sites in the human host. Bacteria that enter these sites must counter host responses for colonization. From the host’s perspective, the innate immune system works expeditiously to minimize the bacterial threat before colonization and subsequent dysbiosis. The multifactorial nature of disease further challenges predictions of how each independent variable influences bacterial pathogenesis. From bacterial colonization to infection and through disease, the microenvironments of the host are in constant flux as bacterial and host factors contribute to changes at the host-pathogen interface, with the host attempting to eradicate bacteria and the bacteria fighting to maintain residency. A key component of this innate host response towards bacterial infection is the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). As an early component of the host response, AMPs modulate bacterial load and prevent establishment of infection. Under quiescent conditions, some AMPs are constitutively expressed by the epithelium. Bacterial infection can subsequently induce production of other AMPs in an effort to maintain sterility, or to restrict colonization. As demonstrated in various studies, the absence of a single AMP can influence pathogenesis, highlighting the importance of AMP concentration in maintaining homeostasis. Yet, AMPs can increase bacterial virulence through the co-opting of the peptides or alteration of bacterial virulence gene expression. Further, bacterial factors used to subvert AMPs can modify host microenvironments and alter colonization of the residential flora that principally maintain homeostasis. Thus, the dynamic interplay between host defense peptides and bacterial factors produced to quell peptide activity play a critical role in the progression and outcome of disease.
Abstract: The inappropriate use of antibiotics in the community is one of the major causes of antimicrobial resistance. This study aimed to explore the physician prescribing pattern of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and to explore the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of patients regarding antibiotic use for ARIs. The study was conducted in Upper Egypt and used quantitative and qualitative research techniques. Eligible patients exiting outpatient clinics with ARIs were invited to participate in the study. A qualitative study was conducted through 20 focus group discussions. Out of 350 encounters for patients with various ARIs, 292 (83%) had been prescribed at least one antibiotic. Factors significantly associated with antibiotic prescribing for adults included patient preference that an antibiotic be prescribed. For children younger than 18, presentation with fever, cough, loss of appetite, and sore throat, along with the caregiver’s antibiotic preference, were associated with an antibiotic prescription. Several misconceptions regarding antibiotic use among community members were stated, such as the strong belief of the curing and prophylactic power of antibiotics for the common cold. Interventions to promote proper antibiotic use for ARIs need to be piloted, targeting both physicians and the public. Educational programs for physicians and campaigns to raise public awareness regarding proper antibiotic use for ARIs need to be developed.
Abstract: θ-Defensins are cyclic antimicrobial peptides expressed in leukocytes of Old world monkeys. To get insight into their antibacterial mode of action, we studied the activity of RTDs (rhesus macaque θ-defensins) against staphylococci. We found that in contrast to other defensins, RTDs do not interfere with peptidoglycan biosynthesis, but rather induce bacterial lysis in staphylococci by interaction with the bacterial membrane and/or release of cell wall lytic enzymes. Potassium efflux experiments and membrane potential measurements revealed that the membrane impairment by RTDs strongly depends on the energization of the membrane. In addition, RTD treatment caused the release of Atl-derived cell wall lytic enzymes probably by interaction with membrane-bound lipoteichoic acid. Thus, the premature and uncontrolled activity of these enzymes contributes strongly to the overall killing by θ-defensins. Interestingly, a similar mode of action has been described for Pep5, an antimicrobial peptide of bacterial origin.
Abstract: Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) constitute promising candidates for the development of new antibiotics. Among the ever-expanding family of AMPs, tritrpticin has strong antimicrobial activity against a broad range of pathogens. This 13-residue peptide has an unusual amino acid sequence that is almost symmetrical and features three central Trp residues with two Arg residues near each end of the peptide. In this work, the role of the three sequential Trp residues in tritrpticin was studied in a systematic fashion by making a series of synthetic peptides with single-, double- and triple-Trp substitutions to Tyr or Ala. 1H NMR and fluorescence spectroscopy demonstrated the ability of all of the tritrpticin-analog peptides to interact with negatively-charged membranes. Consequently, most tritrpticin analogs exhibited the ability to permeabilize synthetic ePC:ePG (egg-yolk phosphatidylcholine (ePC), egg-yolk phosphatidylglycerol (ePG)) vesicles and live Escherichia coli bacteria. The membrane perturbation characteristics were highly dependent on the location of the Trp residue substitution, with Trp6 being the most important residue and Trp8 the least. The membrane permeabilization activity of the peptides in synthetic and biological membranes was directly correlated with the antimicrobial potency of the peptides against E. coli. These results contribute to the understanding of the role of each of the three Trp residues to the antimicrobial activity of tritrpticin.