The rational design modification of membrane-active peptide structures by introducing additional membrane-penetrating regions has become a good strategy for the improvement of action and potency. Aurein 1.2 (GLFDIIKKIAESF-NH2) is a multifunctional antimicrobial peptide isolated from the green and golden bell frog, Litoria aurea, and the southern bell frog Litoria raniformis skin secretions. Its bio-functionality has been widely investigated. However, its lack of a potent action failed to provide aurein 1.2 with a competitive edge for further development as a therapeutic agent for clinical use. Herein, aurein 1.2 was chosen as a template for rational modification to achieve a more potent bio-functionality. KLA-2 (GLFDIIKKLAKLAESF-NH2), which a double KLA region inserted into the sequence, presented a 2–16-fold enhancement of antimicrobial activity, a 2–8-fold greater anti-biofilm activity (including biofilm prevention and eradication), and a 7-fold more potent anti-proliferation activity and hence was regarded as the most broad-spectrum active peptide. Additionally, with respect to antimicrobial activity, the IIKK-modified analog, IK-3 (GLFDIIKKIIKKIIKKI-NH2), also demonstrated a potent enhancement of activity against various pathogens, exhibiting a 2–8-fold enhanced activity compared to the parent peptide. Moreover, the selectivities of KLA-1 and KLA-2 were enhanced significantly. In conclusion, peptide modification, through the introduction of additional membrane penetrating regions, can increase both the potency and activity spectra of natural template peptides, making them suitable candidates for new drug development.
- rational peptide design; cell penetrating regions; aurein 1.2; antimicrobial activity; antiproliferation activity