Category

Anti bacterials

Aggregating sequences that occur in many proteins constitute weak spots of bacterial proteostasis

By | Anti bacterials, Scientific publications

Aggregation is a sequence-specific process, nucleated by short aggregation-prone regions (APRs) that can be exploited to induce aggregation of proteins containing the same APR.

Here, we find that most APRs are unique within a proteome, but that a small minority of APRs occur in many proteins. When aggregation is nucleated in bacteria by such frequently occurring APRs, it leads to massive and lethal inclusion body formation containing a large number of proteins. Buildup of bacterial resistance against these peptides is slow. In addition, the approach is effective against drug-resistant clinical isolates of Escherichia coli and Acinetobacter baumannii, reducing bacterial load in a murine bladder infection model. Our results indicate that redundant APRs are weak points of bacterial protein homeostasis and that targeting these may be an attractive antibacterial strategy.

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Protein aggregation as an antibiotic design strategy

By | Anti bacterials, Scientific publications

Taking advantage of the xenobiotic nature of bacterial infections, we tested whether the cytotoxicity of protein aggregation can be targeted to bacterial pathogens without affecting their mammalian hosts.

In particular, we examined if peptides encoding aggregation‐prone sequence segments of bacterial proteins can display antimicrobial activity by initiating toxic protein aggregation in bacteria, but not in mammalian cells. Unbiased in vitro screening of aggregating peptide sequences from bacterial genomes lead to the identification of several peptides that are strongly bactericidal against methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Upon parenteral administration in vivo, the peptides cured mice from bacterial sepsis without apparent toxic side effects as judged from histological and hematological evaluation. We found that the peptides enter and accumulate in the bacterial cytosol where they cause aggregation of bacterial polypeptides. Although the precise chain of events that leads to cell death remains to be elucidated, the ability to tap into aggregation‐prone sequences of bacterial proteomes to elicit antimicrobial activity represents a rich and unexplored chemical space to be mined in search of novel therapeutic strategies to fight infectious diseases.

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