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The PDB database is a rich source of alpha-helical anti-microbial peptides to combat disease causing pathogens


The therapeutic potential of α-helical anti-microbial peptides (AH-AMP) to combat pathogens is fast gaining prominence. Based on recently published open access software for characterizing α-helical peptides (PAGAL), we elucidate a search methodology (SCALPEL) that leverages the massive structural data pre-existing in the PDB database to obtain AH-AMPs belonging to the host proteome. We provide in vitro validation of SCALPEL on plant pathogens ( Xylella fastidiosa, Xanthomonas arboricola and Liberibacter crescens) by identifying AH-AMPs that mirror the function and properties of cecropin B, a well-studied AH-AMP. The identified peptides include a linear AH-AMP present within the existing structure of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PPC20), and an AH-AMP mimicing the properties of the two α-helices of cecropin B from chitinase (CHITI25). The minimum inhibitory concentration of these peptides are comparable to that of cecropin B, while anionic peptides used as control failed to show any inhibitory effect on these pathogens. Substitute therapies in place of conventional chemotherapies using membrane permeabilizing peptides like these might also prove effective to target cancer cells. The use of native structures from the same organism could possibly ensure that administration of such peptides will be better tolerated and not elicit an adverse immune response. We suggest a similar approach to target Ebola epitopes, enumerated using PAGAL recently, by selecting suitable peptides from the human proteome, especially in wake of recent reports of cationic amphiphiles inhibiting virus entry and infection.

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