Elucidating the mechanism by which synthetic helper peptides sensitize Pseudomonas aeruginosa to multiple antibiotics.

PLoS Pathogens
Yushan XiaOscar P Kuipers

Abstract

The emergence and rapid spread of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria pose a serious threat to the global healthcare. There is an urgent need for new antibacterial substances or new treatment strategies to deal with the infections by MDR bacterial pathogens, especially the Gram-negative pathogens. In this study, we show that a number of synthetic cationic peptides display strong synergistic antimicrobial effects with multiple antibiotics against the Gram-negative pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We found that an all-D amino acid containing peptide called D-11 increases membrane permeability by attaching to LPS and membrane phospholipids, thereby facilitating the uptake of antibiotics. Subsequently, the peptide can dissipate the proton motive force (PMF) (reducing ATP production and inhibiting the activity of efflux pumps), impairs the respiration chain, promotes the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in bacterial cells and induces intracellular antibiotics accumulation, ultimately resulting in cell death. By using a P. aeruginosa abscess infection model, we demonstrate enhanced therapeutic efficacies of the combination of D-11 with various antibiotics. In addition, we found that the combination of D-11 and azithromycin...Continue Reading

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