Esculentin-2CHa: A host-defense peptide with differential cytotoxicity against bacteria, erythrocytes and tumor cells

Samir Attoub, Milena Mechkarska, Agnes Sonnevend, Gordana Radosavljevic, Ivan Jovanovic, Miodrag L. Lukic, J. Michael Conlon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The host-defense peptide, esculentin-2CHa (GFSSIFRGVA10KFASKGLGK D20LAKLGVDLVA30 CKISKQC) shows potent (MIC ≤ 6 μM) growth inhibitory activity against clinical isolates of multidrug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and differential cytotoxic activity against human erythrocytes (LC50 = 150 μM) and human non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells (LC50 = 10 μM). Esculentin-2CHa significantly (P < 0.01) stimulates the release of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 by mouse lymphoid cells and elevates its production after stimulation with concanavalin A and significantly (P < 0.05) stimulates TNF-α production by peritoneal macrophages. Effects on IL-6 and IL-1β production were not significant. Removal of the hydrophobic N-terminal hexapeptide (GFSSIF) from esculentin-2CHa results in abolition of growth inhibitory activity against S. aureus and cytotoxic activity against erythrocytes and A549 cells as well as a marked (≥16-fold) reduction in potency against A. baumannii and S. maltophilia. The primary structure of esculentin-2 has been poorly conserved between frog species but evolutionary pressure has acted to maintain the hydrophobic character of this N-terminal hexapeptide sequence. Removal of the cyclic C-terminal domain (CKISKQC) and replacement of the Cys31 and Cys37 residues by serine resulted in appreciable decreases in cytotoxicity against all microorganisms and against mammalian cells. The more cationic [D20K, D27K] analog showed a modest increase in potency against all microorganisms (up to 4-fold) but a marked increase in cytotoxicity against erythrocytes (LC 50 = 11 μM) and A549 cells (LC50 = 3 μM).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Anticancer
  • Antimicrobial
  • Esculentin-2
  • Frog skin peptide
  • Hemolytic
  • Immunomodulatory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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