The antimicrobial activity of hemoglobin fragments (hemocidins) has been reported in a variety of models. The cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus is a blood sucking arthropod from where the first in vivo-generated hemocidin was characterized (Hb 33-61). In the present work we identified a novel antimicrobial peptide from the midgut of fully engorged R. (B.) microplus females, which comprises the amino acids 98-114 of the alpha subunit of bovine hemoglobin, and was designated Hb 98-114. This peptide was active against several yeast and filamentous fungi, although no activity was detected against bacteria up to 50µM of the synthetic peptide. Hb 98-114 was capable of permeabilizing Candida albicans cell membrane and had a fungicidal effect against this yeast. Circular dichroism (CD) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments showed that Hb 98-114 has a random conformation in aqueous solution but switches to an alpha-helical conformation in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS). This alpha helix adopts an amphipathic structure which may be the mechanism of cell membrane permeabilization. Importantly, Hb 98-114 may play an important role in defending the tick midgut against fungal pathogens and is the first hemocidin with specific antifungal activity to be characterized.
- antimicrobial peptides
- hemoglobin digestion
- rhipecephalus (boophilus) microplus
- alpha helical peptides
- membrane permeabilization