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Characterization of dual effects induced by antimicrobial peptides: regulated cell death or membrane disruption

Abstract

Background: Some reports describe lysis mechanisms by antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), while others describe the activation of regulated cell death. In this study, we compare the cell death-inducing activities of four b-hairpin AMPs (gomesin, protegrin, tachyplesin and polyphemusin II) along with their linear analogues in the human erythroleukemia K562 cell line to investigate the relationship between their structure and activity.Methods: K562 cells were exposed to AMPs. Morphological and biochemistry alterations were evaluated using light microscopy, confocal microscopy and flow cytometry.Results: Gomesin and protegrin displayed cytotoxic properties that their linear counterparts did not. Tachyplesin and polyphemusin II and also their linear analogues induced cell death. We were able to distinguish two ways in which these AMPs induced cell death. Lower concentrations of AMPs induced controlled cell death mechanisms. Gomesin, tachyplesin and linear-tachyplesin promoted apoptosis that was characterized by annexin labeling, sensitivity to Z-VAD, and caspase-3 activation, but was also inhibited by necrostatin-1. Gomesin and protegrin induced cell death were dependent on intracellular Ca2+ mechanisms and the participation of free radicals was observed in protegrin induced cell death. Polyphemusin II and its linear analog mainly induced necrosis. Conversely, treatment with higher concentrations of AMPs primarily resulted in cell membrane disruption, but with clearly different patterns of action for each AMP tested.Conclusion: Different actions by b-hairpin AMPs were observed at low concentrations and at higher concentrations despite the structure similarity.General Significance: Controlled intracellular mechanism and direct membrane disruption were clearly distinguished helping to understand the real action of AMPs in mammalian cells. (AU)

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