Paper of the Month | 2018

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De Novo Designed Alpha-Sheet Peptides Inhibit Functional Amyloid Formation of Streptococcus Mutans Biofilms

Natasha Paranjapye, Valerie Daggett
Journal of Molecular Biology, Article in Press
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Streptococcus mutans is a bacterial species that predominates in the oral microbiome. S. mutans binds to the tooth surface, metabolizes sugars and produces acid, leading to cavity formation. S. mutans can also cause infectious endocarditis. Recent evidence suggests that S. mutans biofilms contain amyloid fibrils. Amyloids are insoluble fibrillar protein aggregates, and bacteria use functional amyloids to improve robustness of their biofilms. While the functional amyloids in bacteria such as E. coli and S. aureus have been heavily investigated, little is known about the mechanism of S. mutans amyloid formation. Previous results from our lab with the amyloidogenic proteins and peptides from the aforementioned bacteria and other mammalian amyloid systems suggest that amyloid formation progresses via an intermediate that adopts a unique secondary structure - α-sheet. De novo designed peptides with alternating L- and D- amino acid also adopt an α-sheet secondary structure and inhibit amyloid formation by binding to soluble oligomeric species during amyloidogenesis. Inhibition of fibrillization by α-sheet peptides suggests the presence of α-sheet during amyloid formation. To investigate the mechanism of functional amyloid formation in S. mutans, α-sheet peptides were compared to Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) for their ability to inhibit fibril formation in S. mutans. Inhibition was demonstrated in a biofilm plate assay and on hydroxyapatite surfaces both in S. mutans alone and in bacteria from human saliva. The observed inhibition suggests that an α-sheet mediated mechanism may be operative during functional amyloid formation.