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VIEW ARTICLE   |    DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-8-0792

Synthetic Antimicrobial Peptide Design. William A. Powell. SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210 U.S.A. Catharine M. Catranis, and Charles A. Maynard. SUNY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1 Forestry Drive, Syracuse, NY 13210 U.S.A. MPMI 8:792-794. Accepted 22 May 1995. Copyright 1995 The American Phytopathological Society.

To guide the design of potential plant pathogen-resistance genes, synthetic variants of naturally occurring antimicrobial gene products were evaluated. Five 20-amino acid (ESF1, ESF4, ESF5, ESF6, ESF13), one 18-amino acid (ESF12), and one 17-amino acid (ESF17) amphipathic peptide sequences were designed, synthesized, and tested with in vitro bioassays. Positive charges on the hydrophilic side of the peptide were shown to be essential for antifungal activity, yet the number of positive charges could be varied with little or no change in activity. The size could be reduced to 18 amino acids, but at 17 amino acids a significant reduction in activity was observed. ESF1, 5, 6, and 12 peptides were inhibitory to the germination of conidia from Cryphonectria parasitica, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici, and Seploria musiva but did not inhibit the germination of pollen from Castanea mollis-sima and Salix lucida. ESF12 also had no effect on the germination of Malus sylvestris and Lycopersicon esculentum pollen, but inhibited the growth of the bacteria Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Erwinia amylovora, and Pseudomonas syringae. The minimal inhibitory concentrations of the active ESF peptides were similar to those of the naturally occurring control peptides, magainin II and cecropin B. The significant differential in sensitivity between the microbes and plant cells indicated that the active ESF peptides are potentially useful models for designing plant pathogen-resistance genes.

Additional Keywords: antibiotic, amphipathic helix.