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ABSTRACT: Here, cluster analysis showed that a database of 158 anticancer peptides formed 21 clusters based on net positive charge, hydrophobicity and amphiphilicity. In general, these clusters showed similar median toxicities (P = 0.176) against eukaryotic cell lines and no single combination of these properties was found optimal for efficacy. The database contained 14 peptides, which showed selectivity for tumour cell lines only (ACP(CT)), 123 peptides with general toxicity to eukaryotic cells (ACP(GT)) and 21 inactive peptides (ACP(I)). Hydrophobic arc size analysis showed that there was no significant difference across the datasets although peptides with wide hydrophobic arcs (>270 degrees) appeared to be associated with decreased toxicity. Extended hydrophobic moment plot analysis predicted that over 50% of ACP(CT) and ACP(GT) peptides would be surface active, which led to the suggestion that amphiphilicity is a key driver of the membrane interactions for these peptides but probably plays a role in their efficacy rather than their selectivity. This analysis also predicted that only 14% of ACP(CT) peptides compared to 45% of ACP(GT) peptides were candidates for tilted peptide formation, which led to the suggestion that the absence of this structure may support cancer cell selectivity. However, these analyses predicted that ACP(I) peptides, which possess no anticancer activity, would also form surface active and tilted alpha-helices, clearly showing that other factors are involved in determining the efficacy and selectivity of ACPs.
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ABSTRACT: Cationic defence peptides show high therapeutic potential as antimicrobial and anticancer agents. Some of these peptides carry a C-terminal amide moiety which has been shown to be required for antimicrobial activity. However, whether this is a general requirement or whether C-terminal amidation is required for the anticancer activity of defence peptides is unclear. In response, this study analyses the toxicity of a series of C-terminally amidated defence peptides and their non-amidated isoforms to normal fibroblast cells, a variety of tumour cells and bacterial cells. The toxicities of these peptides to microbial and cancer cells were generally <200 microM. Peptides were either unaffected by C-terminal amidation or showed up to 10-fold decreases or increases in efficacy. However, these peptides all showed toxicity to normal fibroblast cells with levels (generally <150 microM) that were comparable to those of their antimicrobial and anticancer activities. In contrast to previous claims which have been based on analysis of single amidation events, the results of this study clearly show that the C-terminal amidation of defence peptides has a variable effect on their antimicrobial and anticancer efficacy and no clear effect on their selectivity for these cell types.