Determinants of recombinant production of antimicrobial cationic peptides and creation of peptide variants in bacteria

L. Zhang, T. Falla, M. Wu, S. Fidai, J. Burian, W. Kay, R. E.W. Hancock

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Cationic peptides possessing antibacterial activity are virtually ubiquitous in nature, and offer exciting prospects as new therapeutic agents. We had previously demonstrated that such peptides could be produced by fusion protein technology in bacteria and several carrier proteins had been tested as fusion partners including glutathione-S-transferase, S. aureus protein A, IgG binding protein and P. aeruginosa outer membrane protein OprF. However these fusion partners, while successfully employed in peptide expression, were not optimized for high level production of cationic peptides. In this paper we took advantage of a small replication protein RepA from E. coli and used its truncated version to construct fusion partners. The minimal elements required for high level expression of cationic peptide were defined as a DNA sequence encoding a fusion protein comprising, from the N-terminus, a 68 amino acid carrier region, an anionic prepro domain, a single methionine and the peptide of interest. The 68 amino acid carrier region was a block of three polypeptides consisting of a truncated RepA, a synthetic cellulose binding domain and a hexa histidine domain. The improved system showed high level expression and simplified downstream purification. The active peptide could be yielded by CNBr cleavage of the fusion protein. This novel vector was used to express three classes of cationic peptides including the α-helical peptide CEMA, the looped peptide bactenecin and the extended peptide indolicidin. In addition, mutagenesis of the peptide gene to produce peptide variants of CEMA and indolicidin using the improved vector system was shown to be successful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-680
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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