MDAP-2 is a new antibacterial peptide with a unique structure that was isolated from house- flies. However, its biological characteristics and antibacterial mechanisms against bacteria are still poorly understood. To study the biological characteristics, antibacterial activity, hemolytic activi- ty, cytotoxicity to mammalian cells, and the secondary structure of MDAP-2 were detected; the results showed that MDAP-2 displayed high antibacterial activity against all of the tested Gram-negative bacteria. MDAP-2 had lower hemolytic activity to rabbit red blood cells; only 3.4% hemolytic activity was observed at a concentration of 800μg/ml. MDAP-2 also had lower cytotoxicity to mammalian cells; IC50 values for HEK-293 cells, VERO cells, and IPEC-J2 cells were greater than 1000 μg/ml. The circular dichroism (CD) spectra showed that the peptide most- ly has α-helical properties and some β-fold structure in water and in membrane-like conditions. MDAP-2 is therefore a promising antibacterial agent against Gram-negative bacteria. To deter- mine the antibacterial mechanism(s) of action, fluorescent probes, flow cytometry, and transmis- sion electron microscopy (TEM) were used to study the effects of MDAP-2 on membrane perme- ability, polarization ability, and integrity of Gram-negative bacteria. The results indicated that the peptide caused membrane depolarization, increased membrane permeability, and destroyed membrane integrity. In conclusion, MDAP-2 is a broad-spectrum, lower hemolytic activity, and lower cytotoxicity antibacterial peptide, which is mainly effective on Gram-negative bacteria. It exerts its antimicrobial effects by causing bacterial cytoplasm membrane depolarization, increas- ing cell membrane permeability and disturbing the membrane integrity of Gram-negative bacte- ria. MDAP-2 may offer a new strategy to for defense against Gram-negative bacteria.
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