Fish antimicrobial peptides collaborate for stronger antibacterial action

The aquatic environment is rich in bacteria, and therefore fish have developed a variety of defense strategies to protect themselves from potential bacterial threats. For example, fish have a slimy mucus layer covering their skin, which serves as a physical barrier against bacteria. Fish also produce small proteins called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in their mucus and skin. AMPs can directly kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria by disrupting their cell membranes; therefore, they are now being explored as potential alternatives to traditional antibiotics.

One of the fish that was extensively studied in this regard is the Winter Flounder, a bottom-dwelling flatfish known for its distinctive flattened body shape. It has been observed that the Winter Flounder produces several AMPs with highly varying potencies against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. However, the interactions and cooperative effects among these AMPs have not been fully understood.

In a recent study, scientists from King’s College London have shed light on the synergistic interactions among these peptides. The research revealed that while some of the individual AMPs had moderate or weak antimicrobial activity on their own, various two-way combinations of these exhibited potent synergistic antimicrobial effects against a range of bacterial pathogens. To evaluate this synergy, the researchers used various experimental approaches, including antibacterial activity assays, in vitro pharmacodynamic assays, a burn wound infection model, as well as bilayer stability and ion conductance measurements with Vesicle Prep Pro and Port-a-Patch.

Thus, the AMPs from the Winter Flounder act in synergy to enhance their bactericidal activity and therapeutic potency. This behavior may explain the evolutionary benefits of producing a family of related peptides with varying degrees of antimicrobial activity in Winter Flounder fish. While the study focused on two-way combinations, the authors acknowledged the potential for even higher-order synergies among these peptides.

In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of synergy among Winter Flounder antimicrobial peptides in enhancing their bactericidal activity and therapeutic potential. The findings contribute to our understanding of how these innate host defense mechanisms operate and provide insights that could guide the development of new AMP-based therapies.

For more details, please refer to the paper here.

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