Shrimp antilipopolysaccharide factors (ALFs) form a multifunctional and diverse family of antimicrobial host defense peptides (AMPs) composed of seven members (groups A to G), which differ in terms of their primary structure and biochemical properties. They are amphipathic peptides with two conserved cysteine residues stabilizing a central β-hairpin that is understood to be the core region for their biological activities. In this study, we synthetized three linear (cysteine-free) peptides based on the amino acid sequence of the central β-hairpin of the newly identified shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) ALFs from groups E to G. Unlike whole mature ALFs, the ALF-derived peptides exhibited an α-helix secondary structure. In vitro assays revealed that the synthetic peptides display a broad spectrum of activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi but not against the protozoan parasites Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania (L.) infantum. Remarkably, they displayed synergistic effects and showed the ability to permeabilize bacterial membranes, a mechanism of action of classical AMPs. Having shown low cytotoxicity to THP-1 human cells and being active against clinical multiresistant bacterial isolates, these nature-inspired peptides represent an interesting class of bioactive molecules with biotechnological potential for the development of novel therapeutics in medical sciences.
- antimicrobial peptide (AMP)
- antiparasitic activity
- host defense peptide (HDP)
- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)