Amino Acid Composition Determines Peptide Activity Spectrum and Hot-Spot-Based Design of Merecidin

Xiuqing Wang, Biswajit Mishra, Tamara Lushnikova, Jayaram Lakshmaiah Narayana, Guangshun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


There is a great interest in developing the only human cathelicidin into therapeutic molecules. The major antimicrobial region of human LL-37 corresponds to residues 17–32. The resultant peptide GF-17 shows a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. By reducing the hydrophobic content, converting the broad-spectrum GF-17 to two narrow-spectrum peptides (GF-17d3 and KR-12) with activity against Gram-negative bacteria is successful. This study demonstrates that substitution of multiple basic amino acids by hydrophobic alanines makes a broad-spectrum peptide 17BIPHE2 (designed based on GF-17d3) active against Staphylococcal pathogens but not other bacteria tested. Taken together, the results reveal distinct charge and hydrophobic requirements for peptides to kill Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria. This finding is in line with the bioinformatics analysis of the peptides in the Antimicrobial Peptide Database ( In addition, a hot-spot arginine is identified and used to design merecidin with reduced toxicity to human cells. Merecidin protects wax moth larvae (Galleria mellonella) from the infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300. These new selective peptides constitute interesting candidates for future development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1700259
JournalAdvanced Biosystems
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • antimicrobial peptides
  • cathelicidin
  • hydrophobic content
  • peptide design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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