The morphological effects of two antimicrobial peptides, hecate-1 and melittin, on Escherichia coli

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The effects of the 26 amino acid, cationic, amphipathic, antibacterial peptide melittin and hecate-1, a 23 amino acid analog of it, on the gram negative bacterium Escherichia coli were investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and freeze- fracture. Both peptides killed virtually all bacteria at the peptide concentration and cell density used. TEM and SEM revealed aggregates of bacteria entangled with material extruded from the bacterial surfaces. SEM revealed irregular bacterial surfaces with bleb-like projections. TEM and freeze-fracture indicate that the bacterial inner and outer membranes, as well as the peptidoglycan layer between, were extensively damaged. The cytoplasmic contents of the cells, however, did not appear radically disturbed, providing little evidence for osmotically induced cytolysis.

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Scanning Microscopy

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