(1/173) Insect immunity. Isolation from the lepidopteran Heliothis virescens of a novel insect defensin with potent antifungal activity.

Lepidoptera have been reported to produce several antibacterial peptides in response to septic injury. However, in marked contrast to other insect groups, no inducible antifungal molecules had been described so far in this insect order. Surprisingly, also cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides, which predominate in the antimicrobial defense of other insects, had not been discovered in Lepidoptera. Here we report the isolation from the hemolymph of immune induced larvae of the lepidopteran Heliothis virescens of a cysteine-rich molecule with exclusive antifungal activity. We have fully characterized this antifungal molecule, which has significant homology with the insect defensins, a large family of antibacterial peptides directed against Gram-positive strains. Interestingly, the novel peptide shows also similarities with the antifungal peptide drosomycin from Drosophila. Thus, Lepidoptera appear to have built their humoral immune response against bacteria on cecropins and attacins. In addition, we report that Lepidoptera have conferred antifungal properties to the well conserved structure of antibacterial insect defensins through amino acid replacements.  (+info)

(2/173) Constitutive activation of toll-mediated antifungal defense in serpin-deficient Drosophila.

The antifungal defense of Drosophila is controlled by the spaetzle/Toll/cactus gene cassette. Here, a loss-of-function mutation in the gene encoding a blood serine protease inhibitor, Spn43Ac, was shown to lead to constitutive expression of the antifungal peptide drosomycin, and this effect was mediated by the spaetzle and Toll gene products. Spaetzle was cleaved by proteolytic enzymes to its active ligand form shortly after immune challenge, and cleaved Spaetzle was constitutively present in Spn43Ac-deficient flies. Hence, Spn43Ac negatively regulates the Toll signaling pathway, and Toll does not function as a pattern recognition receptor in the Drosophila host defense.  (+info)

(3/173) Characterization of a new variant DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase unable to methylate double stranded DNA isolated from the marine annelid worm Chaetopterus variopedatus.

The enzyme S-adenosylmethionine-DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferase has been identified, first time for invertebrates, in embryos of the marine polychaete annelid worm Chaetopterus variopedatus. The molecule has been isolated from embryos at 15 h of development. It is a single peptide of about 200 kDa molecular weight, cross-reacting with antibodies against sea urchin DNA methyltransferase. The enzymatic properties of the molecule are similar to those of Dnmt1 methyltransferases isolated from other organisms, but with the peculiarity to be unable to make 'de novo' methylation on double stranded DNA.  (+info)

(4/173) Purification and partial characterization of a murein hydrolase, millericin B, produced by Streptococcus milleri NMSCC 061.

Streptococcus milleri NMSCC 061 was screened for antimicrobial substances and shown to produce a bacteriolytic cell wall hydrolase, termed millericin B. The enzyme was purified to homogeneity by a four-step purification procedure that consisted of ammonium sulfate precipitation followed by gel filtration, ultrafiltration, and ion-exchange chromatography. The yield following ion-exchange chromatography was 6.4%, with a greater-than-2,000-fold increase in specific activity. The molecular weight of the enzyme was 28,924 as determined by electrospray mass spectrometry. The amino acid sequences of both the N terminus of the enzyme (NH(2) SENDFSLAMVSN) and an internal fragment which was generated by cyanogen bromide cleavage (NH(2) SIQTNAPWGL) were determined by automated Edman degradation. Millericin B displayed a broad spectrum of activity against gram-positive bacteria but was not active against Bacillus subtilis W23 or Escherichia coli ATCC 486 or against the producer strain itself. N-Dinitrophenyl derivatization and hydrazine hydrolysis of free amino and free carboxyl groups liberated from peptidoglycan digested with millericin B followed by thin-layer chromatography showed millericin B to be an endopeptidase with multiple activities. It cleaves the stem peptide at the N terminus of glutamic acid as well as the N terminus of the last residue in the interpeptide cross-link of susceptible strains.  (+info)

(5/173) Coaggregation between aquatic bacteria is mediated by specific-growth-phase-dependent lectin-saccharide interactions.

Coaggregating strains of aquatic bacteria were identified by partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The coaggregation abilities of four strains of Blastomonas natatoria and one strain of Micrococcus luteus varied with culture age but were always maximum in the stationary phase of growth. Each member of a coaggregating pair carried either a heat- and protease-sensitive protein (lectin) adhesin or a saccharide receptor, as coaggregation was reversed by sugars.  (+info)

(6/173) Protein purification and gene isolation of chlamysin, a cold-active lysozyme-like enzyme with antibacterial activity.

An antibacterial approximately 11 kDa protein designated chlamysin was isolated from viscera of the marine bivalve Chlamys islandica. Chlamysin inhibited the growth of all Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria tested. The isolated protein was highly efficient in hydrolyzing Micrococcus luteus cells only at low pH (4.5-6.2) and at low temperature (4-35 degrees C). No significant loss of enzyme activity was observed after 30 days storage at room temperature or after heating to 70 degrees C for 15 min, suggesting relatively high protein structure stability. Sequence-analyzed fragments of the protein revealed data which guided the isolation of the cDNA gene, encoding a 137 amino acid chlamysin precursor in scallops. The deduced protein contains a high portion of cysteine, serine and histidine residues and has a predicted isoelectric point below 7. The chlamysin protein was found to have sequence homology to an isopeptidase and to a recently published bivalve lysozyme.  (+info)

(7/173) Androctonin, a hydrophilic disulphide-bridged non-haemolytic anti-microbial peptide: a plausible mode of action.

Androctonin is a 25-residue non-haemolytic anti-microbial peptide isolated from the scorpion Androctonus australis and contains two disulphide bridges. Androctonin is different from known native anti-microbial peptides, being a relatively hydrophilic and non-amphipathic molecule. This raises the possibility that the target of androctonin might not be the bacterial membrane, shown to be a target for most amphipathic lytic peptides. To shed light on its mode of action on bacteria and its non-haemolytic activity, we synthesized androctonin, its fluorescent derivatives and its all-D-amino acid enantiomer. The enantiomer preserved high activity, suggesting a lipid-peptide interaction between androctonin and bacterial membranes. In Gram-positive and (at higher concentrations) Gram-negative bacteria, androctonin induced an immediate perturbation of the permeability properties of the cytoplasmic membrane of the bacterial energetic state, concomitant with perturbation of the morphology of the cell envelope as revealed by electron microscopy. Androctonin binds only to negatively charged lipid vesicles and induces the leakage of markers at high concentrations and with a slow kinetics, in contrast with amphipathic alpha-helical anti-microbial peptides that bind and permeate negatively charged vesicles, and to a smaller extent also zwitterionic ones. This might explain the selective lytic activity of androctonin towards bacteria but not red blood cells. Polarized attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy revealed that androctonin adopts a beta-sheet structure in membranes and did not affect the lipid acyl chain order, which supports a detergent-like effect. The small size of androctonin, its hydrophilic character and its physicochemical properties are favourable features for its potential application as a replacement for commercially available antibiotics to which bacteria have developed resistance.  (+info)

(8/173) Multiparameter flow cytometric analysis of antibiotic effects on membrane potential, membrane permeability, and bacterial counts of Staphylococcus aureus and Micrococcus luteus.

Although flow cytometry has been used to study antibiotic effects on bacterial membrane potential (MP) and membrane permeability, flow cytometric results are not always well correlated to changes in bacterial counts. Using new, precise techniques, we simultaneously measured MP, membrane permeability, and particle counts of antibiotic-treated and untreated Staphylococcus aureus and Micrococcus luteus cells. MP was calculated from the ratio of red and green fluorescence of diethyloxacarbocyanine [DiOC(2)(3)]. A normalized permeability parameter was calculated from the ratio of far red fluorescence of the nucleic acid dye TO-PRO-3 and green DiOC(2)(3) fluorescence. Bacterial counts were calculated by the addition of polystyrene beads to the sample at a known concentration. Amoxicillin increased permeability within 45 min. At concentrations of <1 microg/ml, some organisms showed increased permeability but normal MP; this population disappeared after 4 h, while bacterial counts increased. At amoxicillin concentrations above 1 microg/ml, MP decreased irreversibly and the particle counts did not increase. Tetracycline and erythromycin caused smaller, dose- and time-dependent decreases in MP. Tetracycline concentrations of <1 microg/ml did not change permeability, while a tetracycline concentration of 4 microg/ml permeabilized 50% of the bacteria; 4 microg of erythromycin per ml permeabilized 20% of the bacteria. Streptomycin decreased MP substantially, with no effect on permeability; chloramphenicol did not change either permeability or MP. Erythromycin pretreatment of bacteria prevented streptomycin and amoxicillin effects. Flow cytometry provides a sensitive means of monitoring the dynamic cellular events that occur in bacteria exposed to antibacterial agents; however, it is probably simplistic to expect that changes in a single cellular parameter will suffice to determine the sensitivities of all species to all drugs.  (+info)