Antimicrobial Peptides

Herein is reported a tunable chemical genetics approach for enhancing genetic code expansion in different wild-type bacterial strains that employ apidaecin-like, antimicrobial peptides observed to temporarily sequester and thereby inhibit Release Factor 1 (RF1).

In a concentration-dependent matter, these peptides granted a conditional lambda phage resistance to a recoded Escherichia coli strain with nonessential RF1 activity and promoted multisite nonstandard amino acid (nsAA) incorporation at inframe amber stop codons in vivo and in vitro. When exogenously added, the peptides stimulated specific nsAA incorporation in a variety of sensitive, wild-type (RF1+) strains, including Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a species in which nsAA incorporation has not been previously reported.

Improvement in nsAA incorporation was typically 2−15-fold in E. coli BL21, MG1655, and DH10B strains and A. tumefaciens with the >20-fold improvement observed in probiotic E. coli Nissle 1917. In-cell expression of these peptides promoted multisite nsAA incorporation in transcripts with up to 6 amber codons, with a >35-fold increase in BL21 showing moderate toxicity.

Leveraging this RF1 sensitivity allowed multiplexed partial recoding of MG1655 and DH10B that rapidly resulted in resistant strains that showed an additional approximately twofold boost to nsAA incorporation independent of the peptide. Finally, in-cell expression of an apidaecinlike peptide library allowed the discovery of new peptide variants with reduced toxicity that still improved multisite nsAA incorporation >25-fold.

In parallel to genetic reprogramming efforts, these new approaches can facilitate genetic code expansion technologies in a variety of wild-type bacterial strains.

Release Factor Inhibiting Antimicrobial Peptides Improve Nonstandard Amino Acid Incorporation in Wild-type Bacterial Cells
Erkin Kuru, Rosa-Maria Maättälä , ̈Karen Noguera, Devon A. Stork, Kamesh Narasimhan, Jonathan Rittichier, Daniel Wiegand, and George M. Church
ACS Chem. Biol. 2020, 15, 1852−1861

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