Researchers identify unifying code among diverse classes of natural antibiotics

Torrance, Calif. (April 12, 2004) Investigators at the Research and Education Institute (REI) at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center have identified a novel structural signature that is conserved in otherwise distinct classes of antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial peptides are small, naturally occurring protein antibiotics that protect organisms including man - against infection. The discovery of such a broadly encompassing structural signature within these ancient host defense peptides could significantly accelerate development of novel molecules to fight multi-drug resistant infections.

In a research article published in the April 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Principal Investigators Nannette Yount, PhD, and Michael Yeaman, PhD, integrated novel proteomic methods with established microbiologic techniques to reveal previously hidden structural codes common to broad classes of antimicrobial peptides from diverse organisms spanning nearly 4 billion years of evolution. Proteomics is a relatively new field of biomedical research that uses powerful computational methods to analyze molecular databases and uncover complex structure-function codes that would otherwise remain unknown.

Using a unique combination of proteomic methods, Yount and Yeaman discovered the antimicrobial peptide signature, which integrates inverse amino acid sequence patterns and a hallmark 3-dimensional motif. This multidimensional signature is conserved in disulfide-stabilized antimicrobial peptides across biological kingdoms, and transcends motifs previously limited to defined peptide subclasses. Illustrating the promise of their findings, experimental data validating the multidimensional signature model enabled the identification of previously unrecognized antimicrobial peptides and peptide classes.

"Our work builds upon the efforts of many excellent researchers in the field. We believe t

Contact: David Feuerherd
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)

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