Membrane potential is vital for rapid permeabilization of plasma membranes and lipid bilayers by the antimicrobial peptide lactoferricin B

Research paper by Farzana Hossain, Md. Mizanur Rahman Moghal, Md. Zahidul Islam, Md. Moniruzzaman, Masahito Yamazaki

Indexed on: 22 May '19Published on: 22 May '19Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Lactoferricin B (LfcinB) is a cationic antimicrobial peptide, and its capacity to damage the bacterial plasma membrane is suggested to be a main factor in LfcinB’s antimicrobial activity. However, the specific processes and mechanisms in LfcinB-induced membrane damage are unclear. In this report, using confocal laser-scanning microscopy, we examined the interaction of LfcinB with single Escherichia coli cells and spheroplasts containing the water-soluble fluorescent probe calcein in the cytoplasm. LfcinB induced rapid calcein leakage from single E. coli cells and from single spheroplasts, indicating that LfcinB interacts directly with the plasma membrane and induces its rapid permeabilization. The proton ionophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone suppressed this leakage. Next, we used the single giant unilamellar vesicle (GUV) method to examine LfcinB’s interaction with GUVs comprising polar lipid extracts of E. coli containing a water-soluble fluorescent probe, Alexa Fluor 647 hydrazide (AF647). We observed that LfcinB stochastically induces local rupture in single GUVs, causing rapid AF647 leakage; however, higher LfcinB concentrations were required for AF647 leakage from GUVs than from E. coli cells and spheroplasts. To identify the reason for this difference, we examined the effect of membrane potential on LfcinB-induced pore formation, finding that the rate of LfcinB-induced local rupture in GUVs increases greatly with increasing negative membrane potential. These results indicate that membrane potential plays an important role in LfcinB-induced local rupture of lipid bilayers and rapid permeabilization of E. coli plasma membranes. On the basis of these results, we discuss the mode of action of LfcinB’s antimicrobial activity.