A rationally designed synthetic antimicrobial peptide against Pseudomonas-associated corneal keratitis: Structure-function correlation

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Contact lens wearers are at an increased risk of developing Pseudomonas-associated corneal keratitis, which can lead to a host of serious ocular complications. Despite the use of topical antibiotics, ocular infections remain a major clinical problem, and a strategy to avoid Pseudomonas-associated microbial keratitis is urgently required. The hybrid peptide VR18 (VARGWGRKCPLFGKNKSR) was designed to have enhanced antimicrobial properties in the fight against Pseudomonas-induced microbial keratitis, including contact lens-related keratitis. In this paper, VR18's modes of action against Pseudomonas membranes were shown by live cell Raman spectroscopy, live cell NMR, live-cell fluorescence microscopy and measures taken using sparsely tethered bilayer lipid membrane bacterial models to be via a bacterial-specific membrane disruption mechanism. The high affinity and selectivity of the peptide were then demonstrated using in vivo, in vitro and ex vivo models of Pseudomonas infection. The extensive data presented in this work suggests that topical employment of the VR18 peptide would be a potent therapeutic agent for the prevention or remedy of Pseudomonas-associated microbial keratitis.


Original published version available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpc.2022.106802

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Biophys Chem