Apolipoprotein E-derived antimicrobial peptide analogues with altered membrane affinity and increased potency and breadth of activity

Bridie A. Kelly, Stuart J. Neil, Áine McKnight, Joana M. Santos, Photini Sinnis, Edward R. Jack, David A. Middleton, Curtis B. Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Host-derived anti-infective proteins represent an important source of sequences for designing antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). However such sequences are often long and comprise diverse amino acids with uncertain contribution to biological effects. Previously, we identified a simple highly cationic peptide derivative of human apolipoprotein E (apoEdp) that inhibited a range of microorganisms. Here, we have dissected the protein chemistry underlying this activity. We report that basic residues and peptide length of around 18 residues were required for activity; however, the Leu residues can be substituted by several other residues without loss of activity and, when substituted with Phe or Trp, resulted in peptides with increased potency. These apoEdp-derived AMPs (apoE-AMPs) showed no cytotoxicity and minimal haemolytic activity, and were active against HIV and Plasmodium via an extracellular target. CXCR4 and CCR5 strains of HIV were inhibited though an early stage in viral infection upstream of fusion, and a lack of inhibition of vesicular stomatitis virus G protein pseudotyped HIV-1 suggested the anti-HIV activity was relatively selective. Inhibition of Plasmodium invasion of hepatocytes was observed without a direct action on Plasmodium integrity or attachment to cells. The Trp-substituted apoE-AMP adhered to mammalian cells irreversibly, explaining its increased potency; NMR experiments confirmed that the aromatic peptides also showed stronger perturbation of membrane lipids (relative to apoEdp). Our data highlight the contribution of specific amino acids to the activity of apoEdp (and also potentially unrelated AMPs) and suggest that apoE-AMPs may be useful as lead agents for preventing the early stages of HIV and Plasmodium cellular entry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4511-4525
Number of pages15
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Apolipoprotein E
  • HIV
  • Membrane perturbation
  • Plasmodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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