Growth factors, comprising diverse protein and peptide families, are involved in a multitude of developmental processes, including embryogenesis, angiogenesis, and wound healing. Here we show that peptides derived from HB-EGF, amphiregulin, hepatocyte growth factor, PDGF-A and PDGF-B, as well as various FGFs are antimicrobial, demonstrating a previously unknown activity of growth factor-derived peptides. The peptides killed the Gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis, as well as the fungus Candida albicans. Several peptides were also active against the Gram-positive S. aureus. Electron microscopy analysis of peptide-treated bacteria, paired with analysis of peptide effects on liposomes, showed that the peptides exerted membrane-breaking effects similar to those seen after treatment with the "classical" human antimicrobial peptide LL-37. Furthermore, HB-EGF was antibacterial per se, and its epitope GKRKKKGKGLGKKRDPCLRKYK retained its activity in presence of physiological salt and plasma. No discernible hemolysis was noted for the growth factor-derived peptides. Besides providing novel templates for design of peptide-based antimicrobials, our findings demonstrate a previously undisclosed link between the family of growth factors and antimicrobial peptides, both of which are induced during tissue remodelling and repair.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Infectious Medicine
- Dermatology and Venereal Diseases
- growth factors