This article highlights new members, novel mechanisms of action, new functions, and interesting applications of antimicrobial peptides reported in 2014. As of December 2014, over 100 new peptides were registered into the Antimicrobial Peptide Database, increasing the total number of entries to 2493. Unique antimicrobial peptides have been identified from marine bacteria, fungi, and plants. Environmental conditions clearly influence peptide activity or function. Human α-defensin HD-6 is only antimicrobial under reduced conditions. The pH-dependent oligomerization of human cathelicidin LL-37 is linked to double-stranded RNA delivery to endosomes, where the acidic pH triggers the dissociation of the peptide aggregate to release its cargo. Proline-rich peptides, previously known to bind to heat shock proteins, are shown to inhibit protein synthesis. A model antimicrobial peptide is demonstrated to have multiple hits on bacteria, including surface protein delocalization. While cell surface modification to decrease cationic peptide binding is a recognized resistance mechanism for pathogenic bacteria, it is also used as a survival strategy for commensal bacteria. The year 2014 also witnessed continued efforts in exploiting potential applications of antimicrobial peptides. We highlight 3D structure-based design of peptide antimicrobials and vaccines, surface coating, delivery systems, and microbial detection devices involving antimicrobial peptides. The 2014 results also support that combination therapy is preferred over monotherapy in treating biofilms.
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