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Aggregation-Induced Emission Probe for Study of the Bactericidal Mechanism of Antimicrobial Peptides

Chen, Junjian, Gao, Meng, Wang, Lin, Li, Shiwu, He, Jingcai, Qin, Anjun, Ren, Li, Wang, Yingjun, Tang, Ben Zhong
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2018 v.10 no.14 pp. 11436-11442
antibacterial properties, antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides, bacteria, bacterial infections, fluorescence, fluorescence microscopy, human health, image analysis, materials science, monitoring, multiple drug resistance, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy
Multidrug resistant bacterial infection has become one of the most serious threats to human health. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been identified as potential alternatives to antibiotics owing to their excellent bactericidal activity. However, the complicated bactericidal mechanism of AMPs is still poorly understood. Fluorescence imaging has many advantages in terms of dynamic monitoring, easy operation, and high sensitivity. In this study, we developed an aggregation-induced emission (AIE)-active probe AMP-2HBT by decorating the antimicrobial peptide HHC36 (KRWWKWWRR) with an AIEgen of 2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)benzothiazole (HBT). This AIE-active probe exhibited an excellent light-up fluorescence after binding with bacteria, enabling a real-time monitoring of the binding process. Moreover, a similar time-dependent bactericidal kinetics was observed for the AIE-active probe and HHC36 peptide, which indicated that the bactericidal activity of the peptide was not compromised by decorating with the AIEgen. The bactericidal mechanism of HHC36 peptide was further investigated by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), which suggested that the probe tended to accumulate on the bacterial membrane and efficiently disrupt the membrane structure to kill both Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. This AIE-active probe thus provided a convenient tool to investigate the bactericidal mechanism of AMPs.