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1.  Circular Dichroism studies on the interactions of antimicrobial peptides with bacterial cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4293.
Studying how antimicrobial peptides interact with bacterial cells is pivotal to understand their mechanism of action. In this paper we explored the use of Circular Dichroism to detect the secondary structure of two antimicrobial peptides, magainin 2 and cecropin A, with E. coli bacterial cells. The results of our studies allow us to gain two important information in the context of antimicrobial peptides- bacterial cells interactions: peptides fold mainly due to interaction with LPS, which is the main component of the Gram negative bacteria outer membrane and the time required for the folding on the bacterial cells depends on the peptide analyzed.
PMCID: PMC3950807  PMID: 24618744
2.  New perspectives for natural antimicrobial peptides: application as antinflammatory drugs in a murine model 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:61.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an ancient group of defense molecules. AMPs are widely distributed in nature (being present in mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, plants, and microorganisms). They display bactericidal as well as immunomodulatory properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities of a combination of two AMPs (temporin B and the royal jellein I) against Staphylococcus epidermidis.
The temporin B (TB-KK) and the royal jelleins I, II, III chemically modified at the C terminal (RJI-C, RJII-C, RJIII-C), were tested for their activity against 10 different Staphylococcus epidermidis strains, alone and in combination. Of the three royal jelleins, RJI-C showed the highest activity. Moreover, the combination of RJI-C and TB-KK (MIX) displayed synergistic activity. In vitro, the MIX displayed low hemolytic activity, no NO2- production and the ability to curb the synthesis of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IFN-γ to the same extent as acetylsalicylic acid. In vivo, the MIX sterilized mice infected with Staphylococcus epidermidis in eleven days and inhibited the expression of genes encoding the prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (COX-2) and CD64, two important parameters of inflammation.
The study shows that the MIX – a combination of two naturally occurring peptides - displays both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities.
PMCID: PMC3526545  PMID: 23157568
3.  γ sulphate PNA (PNA S): Highly Selective DNA Binding Molecule Showing Promising Antigene Activity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e35774.
Peptide Nucleic Acids (PNAs), nucleic acid analogues showing high stability to enzyme degradation and strong affinity and specificity of binding toward DNA and RNA are widely investigated as tools to interfere in gene expression. Several studies have been focused on PNA analogues with modifications on the backbone and bases in the attempt to overcome solubility, uptake and aggregation issues. γ PNAs, PNA derivatives having a substituent in the γ position of the backbone show interesting properties in terms of secondary structure and affinity of binding toward complementary nucleic acids. In this paper we illustrate our results obtained on new analogues, bearing a sulphate in the γ position of the backbone, developed to be more DNA-like in terms of polarity and charge. The synthesis of monomers and oligomers is described. NMR studies on the conformational properties of monomers and studies on the secondary structure of single strands and triplexes are reported. Furthermore the hybrid stability and the effect of mismatches on the stability have also been investigated. Finally, the ability of the new analogue to work as antigene, interfering with the transcription of the ErbB2 gene on a human cell line overexpressing ErbB2 (SKBR3), assessed by FACS and qPCR, is described.
PMCID: PMC3346730  PMID: 22586450
4.  Targeting pre-miRNA by Peptide Nucleic Acids 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(2):88-96.
PNAs conjugated to carrier peptides have been employed for the targeting of miRNA precursor, with the aim to develop molecules able to interfere in the pre-miRNA processing. The capability of the molecules to bind pre-miRNA has been tested in vitro by fluorescence assayes on Thiazole Orange labeled molecules and in vivo, in K562 cells, evaluating the amount of miRNA produced after treatment of cells with two amounts of PNAs.
PMCID: PMC3429535  PMID: 22699795
FACS; fluorescence; miR-210; PNA; pre-miR; thiazole orange
5.  Effects of decoy molecules targeting NF-kappaB transcription factors in Cystic fibrosis IB3–1 cells 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(2):97-296.
One of the clinical features of cystic fibrosis (CF) is a deep inflammatory process, which is characterized by production and release of cytokines and chemokines, among which interleukin 8 (IL-8) represents one of the most important. Accordingly, there is a growing interest in developing therapies against CF to reduce the excessive inflammatory response in the airways of CF patients. Since transcription factor NF-kappaB plays a critical role in IL-8 expression, the transcription factor decoy (TFD) strategy might be of interest. In order to demonstrate that TFD against NF-kappaB interferes with the NF-kappaB pathway we proved, by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) that treatment with TFD oligodeoxyribonucleotides of cystic fibrosis IB3–1 cells infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa leads to a decrease occupancy of the Il-8 gene promoter by NF-kappaB factors. In order to develop more stable therapeutic molecules, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) based agents were considered. In this respect PNA-DNA-PNA (PDP) chimeras are molecules of great interest from several points of view: (1) they can be complexed with liposomes and microspheres; (2) they are resistant to DNases, serum and cytoplasmic extracts; (3) they are potent decoy molecules. By using electrophoretic mobility shift assay and RT-PCR analysis we have demonstrated that (1) the effects of PDP/PDP NF-kappaB decoy chimera on accumulation of pro-inflammatory mRNAs in P.aeruginosa infected IB3–1 cells reproduce that of decoy oligonucleotides; in particular (2) the PDP/PDP chimera is a strong inhibitor of IL-8 gene expression; (3) the effect of PDP/PDP chimeras, unlike those of ODN-based decoys, are observed even in the absence of protection with lipofectamine. These informations are of great impact, in our opinion, for the development of stable molecules to be used in non-viral gene therapy of cystic fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3429536  PMID: 22772035
NF-kappaB; transcription factor decoy; inflammation; Peptide Nucleic Acids; PNA-DNA chimeras

Results 1-5 (5)