Converting a Staphylococcus aureus Toxin into Effective Cyclic Pseudopeptide Antibiotics

Abstract : Staphylococcus aureus produces peptide toxins that it uses to respond to environmental cues. We previously characterized PepA1, a peptide toxin from S. aureus, that induces lytic cell death of both bacterial and host cells. That led us to suggest that PepA1 has an antibacterial activity. Here, we demonstrate that exogenously provided PepA1 has activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. We also see that PepA1 is significantly hemolytic, thus limiting its use as an antibacterial agent. To overcome these limitations, we converted PepA1 into nonhemolytic derivatives. Our most promising derivative is a cyclic heptapseudopeptide with inconsequential toxicity to human cells, enhanced stability in human sera, and sharp antibacterial activity. Mechanistically, linear and helical PepA1 derivatives form pores at the bacterial and erythrocyte surfaces, while the cyclic peptide induces bacterial envelope reorganization, with insignificant action on the erythrocytes. Our work demonstrates that bacterial toxins might be an attractive starting point for antibacterial drug development.
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Olivia Solecki, Amor Mosbah, Michèle Baudy Floc'H, Brice Felden. Converting a Staphylococcus aureus Toxin into Effective Cyclic Pseudopeptide Antibiotics. Chemistry and Biology, 2015, Chemistry and Biology, 22 (3), pp.329-335. ⟨10.1016/j.chembiol.2014.12.016⟩. ⟨inserm-01125610v2⟩

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