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Cellular Internalization and Cytotoxicity of the Antimicrobial Proline-rich Peptide Bac7(1-35) in Monocytes/Macrophages, and its Activity Against Phagocytosed Salmonella typhimurium

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Bac7(1-35) is an active fragment of the bovine cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide Bac7, which selectively inactivates Gram-negative bacteria both in vitro and in mice infected with Salmonella typhimurium. It has a non-lytic mechanism of action, is rapidly internalized by susceptible bacteria and mammalian cells and likely acts by binding to internal targets. In this study we show that Bac7(1-35) accumulates selectively within primed macrophages with respect to resting monocytes. Confocal microscopy analysis showed that the peptide mainly distributes in the cytoplasm and perinuclear region of macrophages within 3 hours of incubation, without affecting cell viability. Cytotoxicity studies showed that the peptide does not induce necrotic or apoptotic damage up to concentrations 50-100-fold higher than minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC). Moreover, Bac7(1-35) did not affect the ability of macrophages to engulf S. typhimurium, a species that may proliferate within this cell type. Conversely, when added to macrophages after phagocytosis, Bac7(1-35) caused a significant reduction in the number of recovered bacteria, indicating that it can kill the engulfed microorganisms directly and/or indirectly, via activation of the defense response of the cells.
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Keywords: Antimicrobial peptide; S. typhimurium; antibiotic; intracellular infection; phagocytosis; proline-rich

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2014

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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