Aggregation and Its Influence on the Immunomodulatory Activity of Synthetic Innate Defense Regulator Peptides

Evan F. Haney, Bing (Catherine) Wu, Kelsey Lee, Ashley L. Hilchie, Robert E.W. Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing interest in developing cationic host defense peptides (HDPs) and their synthetic derivatives as antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and anti-biofilm agents. These activities are often evaluated without considering biologically relevant concentrations of salts or serum; furthermore certain HDPs have been shown to aggregate in vitro. Here we examined the effect of aggregation on the immunomodulatory activity of a synthetic innate defense regulator peptide, 1018 (VRLIVAVRIWRR-NH 2 ). A variety of salts and solutes were screened to determine their influence on 1018 aggregation, revealing that this peptide “salts out” of solution in an anion-specific and concentration-dependent manner. Furthermore, the immunomodulatory activity of 1018 was found to be inhibited under aggregation-promoting conditions. A series of 1018 derivatives were synthesized with the goal of disrupting this self-assembly process. Indeed, some derivatives exhibited reduced aggregation while maintaining certain immunomodulatory functions, demonstrating that it is possible to engineer optimized synthetic HDPs to avoid unwanted peptide aggregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-980.e4
JournalCell Chemical Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2017


  • aggregation
  • antimicrobial peptide
  • host defense peptide
  • immune modulator
  • peptide design
  • synthetic peptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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