Real-time attack on single Escherichia coli cells by the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37

Condensed Matter journal club

Real-time attack on single Escherichia coli cells by the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37

Event details

Abstract

Natural antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) provide prototypes for the design of unconventional antimicrobial agents. Existing bulk assays measure AMP activity but do not provide details of the growth-halting mechanism. We use fluorescence microscopy to directly observe the attack of the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37 on single Escherichia coli cells in real time. Our findings strongly suggest that disruption of the cytoplasmic membrane is not the growth-halting mechanism. At 8 uM LL-37 binding saturates the outer membrane (OM) within 1 min. Translocation across the OM and access to the periplasmic space (5-25 min later) correlates in time with the halting of growth. Septating cells are attacked more readily than nonseptating cells. The halting of growth may occur because of LL-37 interference with cell wall biogenesis. Only well after growth halts does the peptide permeabilize the cytoplasmic membrane to GFP and the small dye Sytox Green. The assay enables dissection of antimicrobial design criteria into two parts: translocation across the OM and the subsequent halting of growth
PNAS 108 E77-E81 (2011)

Authors

Kem A. Sochackia, Kenneth J. Barnsa, Robert Buckib, and James C. Weisshaar