The effect of lysine substitutions in the biological activities of the scorpion venom peptide VmCT1

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are biologically active molecules with a broad-spectrum activity against a myriad of microorganisms. Aside from their antimicrobial functions, AMPs present physicochemical and structural properties that allow them to exert activity against other kind of cells, such as cancer cells. VmCT1 is a potent cationic amphipathic AMP from the venom of the scorpion Vaejovis mexicanus. In this study, we designed lysine-substituted VmCT1 analogs for verifying the influence of changes in the net positive charge on biological activities. The increase in the net positive charge caused by lysine substitutions in the hydrophilic portion, led to higher antimicrobial activity values (0.1–6.3?µmol?L-1) than VmCT1 (0.8–50?µmol?L-1) and higher activity against mammary cancer cells MCF-7 (6.3–12.5?µmol?L-1) than VmCT1 (12.5?µmol?L-1). Contrarily, when lysine-substitutions were made at the hydrophobic portion of the helical projection, the activity values decreased. However, the lysine-substitution at the center of the hydrophobic face led to the generation of an analog with antiplasmodial activity at the same concentration presented by VmCT1 (0.8?µmol?L-1). In this study, we demonstrated that it is possible to modulate biological activities and cytotoxicity of VmCT1 peptides by increasing their net positive charge using lysine residues, thus creating alternatives for standard-of-care therapeutics against different types of microorganisms and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.
Keywords
Antimicrobial peptides;  VmCT1;  Structure-activity relationship;  Scorpion venom peptides

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Pedron CN, Oliveira CS, Silva AF, Andrade GP, Pinhal MAS, Cerchiaro G, et al. The effect of lysine substitutions in the biological activities of the scorpion venom peptide VmCT1. Eur j. pharm. sci.. 2019 Aug;136:104952. doi:10.1016/j.ejps.2019.06.006.
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