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Abaecin is an antimicrobial peptide produced by Apis mellifera (Honeybee). It has antibacterial activity.

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1. Heterologous expression of abaecin peptide from Apis mellifera in Pichia pastoris
Denis Prudencio Luiz, Juliana Franco Almeida, Luiz Ricardo Goulart, Nilson Nicolau-Junior, Carlos Ueira-Vieira Microb Cell Fact. 2017 May 3;16(1):76. doi: 10.1186/s12934-017-0689-6.
Background: Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are the first line of host immune defense against pathogens. Among AMPs from the honeybee Apis mellifera, abaecin is a major broad-spectrum antibacterial proline-enriched cationic peptide. Results: For heterologous expression of abaecin in Pichia pastoris, we designed an ORF with HisTag, and the codon usage was optimized. The gene was chemically synthetized and cloned in the pUC57 vector. The new ORF was sub-cloned in the pPIC9 expression vector and transformed into P. pastoris. After selection of positive clones, the expression was induced by methanol. The supernatant was analyzed at different times to determine the optimal time for the recombinant peptide expression. As a proof-of-concept, Escherichia coli was co-incubated with the recombinant peptide to verify its antimicrobial potential. Discussion: Briefly, the recombinant Abaecin (rAbaecin) has efficiently decreased E. coli growth (P < 0.05) through an in vitro assay, and may be considered as a novel therapeutic agent that may complement other conventional antibiotic therapies.
2. The functional interaction between abaecin and pore-forming peptides indicates a general mechanism of antibacterial potentiation
Mohammad Rahnamaeian, Małgorzata Cytryńska, Agnieszka Zdybicka-Barabas, Andreas Vilcinskas Peptides. 2016 Apr;78:17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2016.01.016. Epub 2016 Feb 1.
Long-chain proline-rich antimicrobial peptides such as bumblebee abaecin show minimal activity against Gram-negative bacteria despite binding efficiently to specific intracellular targets. We recently reported that bumblebee abaecin interacts with Escherichia coli DnaK but shows negligible antibacterial activity unless it is combined with sublethal doses of the pore-forming peptide hymenoptaecin. These two bumblebee peptides are co-expressed in vivo in response to a bacterial challenge. Here we investigated whether abaecin interacts similarly with pore-forming peptides from other organisms by replacing hymenoptaecin with sublethal concentrations of cecropin A (0.3 μM) or stomoxyn (0.05 μM). We found that abaecin increased the membrane permeabilization effects of both peptides, confirming that it can reduce the minimal inhibitory concentrations of pore-forming peptides from other species. We also used atomic force microscopy to show that 20 μM abaecin combined with sublethal concentrations of cecropin A or stomoxyn causes profound structural changes to the bacterial cell surface. Our data indicate that the potentiating functional interaction between abaecin and pore-forming peptides is not restricted to specific co-expressed peptides from the same species but is likely to be a general mechanism. Combination therapies based on diverse insect-derived peptides could therefore be used to tackle bacteria that are recalcitrant to current antibiotics.
3. A novel expression vector for the secretion of abaecin in Bacillus subtilis
Li Li, Lan Mu, Xiaojuan Wang, Jingfeng Yu, Ruiping Hu, Zhen Li Braz J Microbiol. 2017 Oct-Dec;48(4):809-814. doi: 10.1016/j.bjm.2017.01.009. Epub 2017 Jun 3.
This study aimed to describe a Bacillus subtilis expression system based on genetically modified B. subtilis. Abaecin, an antimicrobial peptide obtained from Apis mellifera, can enhance the effect of pore-forming peptides from other species on the inhibition of bacterial growth. For the exogenous expression, the abaecin gene was fused with a tobacco etch virus protease cleavage site, a promoter Pglv, and a mature beta-glucanase signal peptide. Also, a B. subtilis expression system was constructed. The recombinant abaecin gene was expressed and purified as a recombinant protein in the culture supernatant. The purified abaecin did not inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli strain K88. Cecropin A and hymenoptaecin exhibited potent bactericidal activities at concentrations of 1 and 1.5μM. Combinatorial assays revealed that cecropin A and hymenoptaecin had sublethal concentrations of 0.3 and 0.5μM. This potentiating functional interaction represents a promising therapeutic strategy. It provides an opportunity to address the rising threat of multidrug-resistant pathogens that are recalcitrant to conventional antibiotics.
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