Antimicrobial activity and mechanism of action of a novel peptide present in the ecdysis process of centipede Scolopendra subspinipes subspinipes

One of the most important cellular events in arthropods is the moulting of the cuticle (ecdysis). This process allows them to grow until they reach sexual maturity. Nevertheless, during this stage, the animals are highly exposed to pathogens. Consequently, it can be assumed that arthropods counter with an efficient anti-infective strategy that facilitates their survival during ecdysis. Herein, we characterized a novel antimicrobial peptide called Pinipesin, present in the exuviae extract of the centipede Scolopendra subspinipes subspinipes. The antimicrobial activity of Pinipesin was tested. The haemolytic activity of the peptide was evaluated and its possible mechanism of action was investigated. Identification was carried out by mass spectrometry analysis. Pinipesin displayed potent antimicrobial effects against different microorganisms and showed low haemolytic effects against human erythrocytes at high concentrations. It has a monoisotopic mass of 1213.57 Da, its sequence exhibited high similarity with some cuticular proteins, and it might act intracellularly by interfering with protein synthesis. Our data suggest that Pinipesin might be part of a prophylactic immune response during the ecdysis process of centipedes. Therefore, it is a promising candidate for the development of non-conventional antibiotics that could help fight infectious diseases and represents an exciting discovery for this taxon.

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Aguirre EC, Segura-Ramirez PJ, Alves FL., Riske KA., Miranda A, Silva Junior PI. Antimicrobial activity and mechanism of action of a novel peptide present in the ecdysis process of centipede Scolopendra subspinipes subspinipes. Sci. rep.. 2019 Sep;9:13631. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-50061-y.
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