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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Functional interrelationships between cell membrane and cell wall in antimicrobial peptide-mediated killing of Staphylococcus aureus.

Perturbation of the Staphylococcus aureus cytoplasmic membrane (CM) is felt to play a key role in the microbicidal mechanism of many antimicrobial peptides (APs). However, it is not established whether membrane permeabilization (MP) alone is sufficient to kill susceptible staphylococci or if the cell wall (CW) and/or intracellular targets contribute to AP-induced lethality. We hypothesized that the relationships between MP and killing may differ for distinct APs. In this study, we investigated the association between AP-induced MP and lethality in S. aureus whole cells versus CW-free protoplasts, and in comparison to the MP of liposomes modeled after whole CMs in terms of phospholipid composition, fluidity and charge. Four APs with different structure-activity relationships were examined: thrombin-induced platelet microbicidal protein 1 (tPMP-1), human neutrophil protein 1 (hNP-1), gramicidin D, and polymyxin B. MP was quantified fluorometrically by calcein release. All APs tested, except polymyxin B, caused concentration-dependent MP and killing of whole cells, but not of protoplasts. The reduced AP susceptibility of protoplasts was associated with increased cardiolipin and lysyl-phosphatidylglycerol content and reduced fluidity of their CMs. However, liposomal MP induced by tPMP-1, hNP-1, and gramicidin D paralleled that of whole cells. Collectively, these results indicate that (i) structurally distinct APs likely exert their staphylocidal effects by differing mechanisms, (ii) MP is not the sole event leading to AP-induced staphylocidal activity, (iii) a complex interrelationship exists between the CM and CW in AP-induced killing, and (iv) liposomes modeled upon whole cell or protoplast CMs can recapitulate the respective susceptibilities to killing by distinct APs.[1]


  1. Functional interrelationships between cell membrane and cell wall in antimicrobial peptide-mediated killing of Staphylococcus aureus. Xiong, Y.Q., Mukhopadhyay, K., Yeaman, M.R., Adler-Moore, J., Bayer, A.S. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. (2005) [Pubmed]
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