Amino Acids

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 269–280 | Cite as

Optimization of oncocin for antibacterial activity using a SPOT synthesis approach: extending the pathogen spectrum to Staphylococcus aureus

  • Daniel Knappe
  • Serge Ruden
  • Stefanie Langanke
  • Tarun Tikkoo
  • Jennifer Ritzer
  • Ralf Mikut
  • Lisandra L. Martin
  • Ralf Hoffmann
  • Kai Hilpert
Original Article


The identification of lead molecules against multidrug-resistant bacteria ensuing the development of novel antimicrobial drugs is an urgent task. Proline-rich antimicrobial peptides are highly active in vitro and in vivo, but only against a few Gram-negative human pathogens, with rather weak activities against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. This reduced level of efficacy could be related to inadequate uptake mechanisms or structural differences of the intracellular target proteins, i.e., the 70S ribosome or chaperone DnaK. Here we synthesized peptide arrays on cellulose membranes using cleavable linkers to release the free individual peptides for further antimicrobial tests. Thus, a library of singly substituted oncocin analogs was produced by replacing each residue by all other 19 canonical amino acids yielding a set of 361 individual peptides to be evaluated against a luminescent P. aeruginosa strain. Thirteen substitutions appeared promising and their improved antibacterial activities were confirmed for different bacteria after larger scale synthesis of these analogs. By combining two favorable substitutions into one peptide, we finally obtained an oncocin analog that was ten times more active against P. aeruginosa and even 100-fold more active against S. aureus than the original oncocin, providing minimal inhibitory concentrations of 4–8 and 0.5 µg/mL, respectively.


Oncocin Proline-rich antimicrobial peptide Pseudomonas aeruginosa Quartz crystal microbalance SPOT synthesis 



We thank Laszlo Otvos for helpful discussions and proofreading. Financial support by the European Fund for Regional Structure Development (EFRE, European Union and Free State Saxony, no. 13405/2286), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; no. 01GU1104A), and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, no. 56265084) is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the European Fund for Regional Structure Development (EFRE, European Union and Free State Saxony, Grant number 13405/2286), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Grant number 01GU1104A), and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, Grant number. 56265084).

Conflict of interest

Ralf Hoffmann is a cofounder of AMP Therapeutics GmbH (Leipzig, Germany) and member of its scientific advisory board. Daniel Knappe was a part-time coworker of AMPT. The authors filed a patent application including the manuscript data under file number WO 2013/064633 (“Oncopeltus peptide derivatives as antimicrobial peptides”, May 10, 2013).

Ethical approval


Supplementary material

726_2015_2082_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1847 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Knappe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Serge Ruden
    • 3
  • Stefanie Langanke
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tarun Tikkoo
    • 4
  • Jennifer Ritzer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ralf Mikut
    • 5
  • Lisandra L. Martin
    • 4
  • Ralf Hoffmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kai Hilpert
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Bioanalytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and MineralogyUniversität LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Center for Biotechnology and BiomedicineUniversität LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)Institute of Functional Interfaces and Institute of Microstructure TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  4. 4.School of ChemistryMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  5. 5.Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)Institute for Applied Computer ScienceKarlsruheGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Infection and ImmunitySt. George’s, University of LondonLondonUK

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