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Controlled Enzymatic Hydrolysis: A New Strategy for the Discovery of Antimicrobial Peptides


The use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is an alternative to traditional antibiotics. AMPs are obtained using different methods such as bacterial synthesis, chemical synthesis and controlled enzymatic hydrolysis. The later is an interesting approach that deserves our attention because of the yields gathered and peptides engineered. Usually, activities of AMPs obtained in such a way are tightly dependent on the hydrolysis mechanism used. This paper deals with the hydrolysis of hemoglobin mechanism as a potential source of AMPs. Production of AMPs from hemoglobin using enzymatic controlled system is linked to hemoglobin structure. Further, we show that bovine hemoglobin, which is sensitive to peptic hydrolysis, results upon enzymatic digestion as a great source of AMPs. The hemoglobin in native and denatured states was hydrolyzed by “one-by-one” and “zipper” mechanisms, respectively. Nevertheless, a new mechanism named “semi-zipper” mechanism is obtained when protein is in molten globule structural state, constituting an original strategy for AMPs production. Seventy seven percentage of the peptides obtained by this new strategy showed antibacterial activity against nine strains.

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The authors thank Christine Vanuxem from University of Lille I for assisting in the review of this manuscript and Dr. Gilbert Briand “Laboratoire d’Application de Spectrométrie de Masse, Service Commun de Physicochimie, Faculté des Sciences Pharmaceutiques et Biologiques Lille II, France” for analysis of peptide sequences. Estelle Yaba Adjé has a fellowship from Ivorian government.

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The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Rafik Balti.

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Adje, E.Y., Balti, R., Lecouturier, D. et al. Controlled Enzymatic Hydrolysis: A New Strategy for the Discovery of Antimicrobial Peptides. Probiotics & Antimicro. Prot. 5, 176–186 (2013).

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  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Hydrolysis mechanism
  • Bovine hemoglobin
  • Protein structure