Outer-membrane-acting peptides and lipid II-targeting antibiotics cooperatively kill Gram-negative pathogens

Qian Li, Rubén Cebrián, Manuel Montalbán-López, Huan Ren, Weihui Wu, Oscar P Kuipers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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The development and dissemination of antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens is a growing global threat to public health. Novel compounds and/or therapeutic strategies are required to face the challenge posed, in particular, by Gram-negative bacteria. Here we assess the combined effect of potent cell-wall synthesis inhibitors with either natural or synthetic peptides that can act on the outer-membrane. Thus, several linear peptides, either alone or combined with vancomycin or nisin, were tested against selected Gram-negative pathogens, and the best one was improved by further engineering. Finally, peptide D-11 and vancomycin displayed a potent antimicrobial activity at low μM concentrations against a panel of relevant Gram-negative pathogens. This combination was highly active in biological fluids like blood, but was non-hemolytic and non-toxic against cell lines. We conclude that vancomycin and D-11 are safe at >50-fold their MICs. Based on the results obtained, and as a proof of concept for the newly observed synergy, a Pseudomonas aeruginosa mouse infection model experiment was also performed, showing a 4 log10 reduction of the pathogen after treatment with the combination. This approach offers a potent alternative strategy to fight (drug-resistant) Gram-negative pathogens in humans and mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4-Jan-2021

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