Here we report two novel 17-mer amidated linear peptides (TsAP-1 and TsAP-2) whose structures were deduced from cDNAs cloned from a venom-derived cDNA library of the Brazilian yellow scorpion, Tityus serrulatus. Both mature peptides were structurally-characterised following their location in chromatographic fractions of venom and synthetic replicates of each were subjected to a range of biological assays. The peptides were each active against model test micro-organisms but with different potencies. TsAP-1 was of low potency against all three test organisms (MICs 120-160µM), whereas TsAP-2 was of high potency against the Gram-positive bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus (MIC 5µM) and the yeast, Candida albicans (10µM). Haemolytic activity of TsAP-1 was low (4% at 160µM) and in contrast, that of TsAP-2 was considerably higher (18% at 20µM). Substitution of four neutral amino acid residues with Lys residues in each peptide had dramatic effects on their antimicrobial potencies and haemolytic activities, particularly those of TsAP-1. The MICs of the enhanced cationic analogue (TsAP-S1) were 2.5µM for S.aureus/C.albicans and 5µM for E.coli but with an associated large increase in haemolytic activity (30% at 5µM). The same Lys residue substitutions in TsAP-2 produced a dramatic effect on its MIC for E.coli lowering this from >320µM to 5µM. TsAP-1 was ineffective against three of the five human cancer cell lines tested while TsAP-2 inhibited the growth of all five. Lys residue substitution of both peptides enhanced their potency against all five cell lines with TsAp-S2 being the most potent with IC50 values ranging between 0.83 and 2.0 µM. TsAP-1 and TsAP-2 are novel scorpion venom peptides with broad spectrum antimicrobial and anticancer cell activities the potencies of which can be significantly enhanced by increasing their cationicity.
- Scorpion; Molecular cloning; Antimicrobial; Peptide