Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are promising therapeutic alternatives compared to conventional antibiotics for the treatment of drug-resistant bacterial infections. However, the application of the overwhelming majority of AMPs is limited because of the high toxicity and high manufacturing costs. Amphibian skin secretion has been proven to be a promising source for the discovery and development of novel AMPs. Herein, we discovered a novel AMP from the skin secretion of Odorrana schmackeri, and designed the analogues by altering the key factors, including conformation, net charge and amphipathicity, to generate short AMPs with enhanced therapeutic efficacy. All the peptides were chemically synthesised, followed by evaluating their biological activity, stability and cytotoxicity. OSd, OSe and OSf exhibited broad-spectrum antibacterial effects, especially OSf, which presented the highest therapeutic index for the tested bacteria. Moreover, these peptides displayed good stability. The results from scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy studies, indicated that brevinin-OS, OSd, OSe and OSf possessed rapid bactericidal ability by disturbing membrane permeability and causing the release of cytoplasmic contents. In addition, OSd, OSe and OSf dramatically decreased the mortality of waxworms acutely infected with MRSA. Taken together, these data suggested that a balance between positive charge, degrees of α-helicity and hydrophobicity, is necessary for maintaining antimicrobial activity, and these data successfully contributed to the design of short AMPs with significant bactericidal activity and cell selectivity.
- skin-derived peptides; antimicrobial activity; stability; waxworm model