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The insect antimicrobial peptide cecropin A disrupts uropathogenic Escherichia coli biofilms

: Kalsy, M.; Tonk, M.; Hardt, M.; Dobrindt, U.; Zdybicka-Barabas, A.; Cytrynska, M.; Vilcinskas, A.; Mukherjee, K.

Volltext ()

npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 6 (2020), Art. 6, 8 S.
ISSN: 2055-5008
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IME ()

Current antibiotics cannot eradicate uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) biofilms, leading to recurrent urinary tract infections. Here, we show that the insect antimicrobial peptide cecropin A (CecA) can destroy planktonic and sessile biofilm-forming UPEC cells, either alone or when combined with the antibiotic nalidixic acid (NAL), synergistically clearing infection in vivo without off-target cytotoxicity. The multi-target mechanism of action involves outer membrane permeabilization followed by biofilm disruption triggered by the inhibition of efflux pump activity and interactions with extracellular and intracellular nucleic acids. These diverse targets ensure that resistance to the CecA + NAL combination emerges slowly. The antimicrobial mechanisms of CecA, thus, extend beyond pore-forming activity to include an unanticipated biofilm-eradication process, offering an alternative approach to combat antibiotic-resistant UPEC infections.