[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SMKT (salt-mediated killer toxin), a killer toxin produced by the halotolerant yeast, Pichia farinosa, kills yeasts of several genera, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To elucidate the killing mechanism of SMKT, we examined the interaction of SMKT with membranes using liposomes. Leakage of calcein from calcein-entrapped liposomes was observed in the presence of SMKT. Destruction of liposomes was observed by dark-field microscopy. Comparison of intact S. cerevisiae cells with SMKT-treated cells by dark-field microscopy indicated that the spherical cell membrane is disrupted by SMKT. Using sodium carbonate extraction, we obtained direct evidence for the first time that SMKT is associated with the membrane of sensitive cells. Our results indicate that SMKT kills sensitive S. cerevisiae by interacting with the yeast cell membrane.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The design of amphipathic peptides resulted in a novel peptide with a selective ability to destabilize lipid bilayers of acidic liposomes. The newly synthesized peptide, termed mast 21, is a 21-residue long amino acid chain and can only act effectively on acidic liposomes lacking cholesterol. Moreover, mast 21 killed gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, and it had no hemolytic activity. The antimicrobial and hemolytic activities paralleled the results of membrane destabilizing activity using liposomes. Circular dichroism and Trp-fluorescence emission spectra showed changes in the peptide conformation and circumstances around the peptide during interaction with liposomes. These changes were consistent with an increased alpha-helical content and a less polar environment for the tryptophan residue of the peptide. Mast 21 was observed under dark-field microscopy in real time attacking liposomes. Acidic liposomes were attacked, which resulted in peeling of the lipid bilayer with its subsequent destruction.