Specific amino acid substitutions improve the activity and specificity of an antimicrobial peptide & serodiagnosis by immunosignature: a multiplexing tool for monitoring the humoral immune response to dengue
Random peptide microarrays are a powerful tool for both the treatment and diagnostics of infectious diseases. On the treatment side, selected random peptides on the microarray have either binding or lytic potency against certain pathogens cells, thus they can be synthesized into new antimicrobial agents, denoted as synbodies (synthetic antibodies). On the diagnostic side, serum containing specific infection-related antibodies create unique and distinct "pathogen-immunosignatures" on the random peptide microarray distinct from the healthy control serum, and this different mode of binding can be used as a more precise measurement than traditional ELISA tests. My thesis project is separated into these two parts: the first part falls into the treatment side and the second one focuses on the diagnostic side. My first chapter shows that a substitution amino acid peptide library helps to improve the activity of a recently reported synthetic antimicrobial peptide selected by the random peptide microarray. By substituting one or two amino acids of the original lead peptide, the new substitutes show changed hemolytic effects against mouse red blood cells and changed potency against two pathogens: Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Two new substitutes are then combined together to form the synbody, which shows a significantly antimicrobial potency against Staphylococcus aureus (<0.5uM). In the second chapter, I explore the possibility of using the 10K Ver.2 random peptide microarray to monitor the humoral immune response of dengue. Over 2.5 billion people (40% of the world's population) live in dengue transmitting areas. However, currently there is no efficient dengue treatment or vaccine. Here, with limited dengue patient serum samples, we show that the immunosignature has the potential to not only distinguish the dengue infection from non-infected people, but also the primary dengue infection from the secondary dengue infections, dengue infection from West Nile Virus (WNV) infection, and even between different dengue serotypes. By further bioinformatic analysis, we demonstrate that the significant peptides selected to distinguish dengue infected and normal samples may indicate the epitopes responsible for the immune response.