Pestic Biochem Physiol. 2021 May;174:104810. doi: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2021.104810. Epub 2021 Feb 27.
The efficacies of three short synthetic antifungal peptides were tested for their inhibitory action on pathogenic fungi, Aspergillus flavus. The sequences of the short synthetic peptides are PPD1- FRLHF, 66-10-FRLKFH, 77-3- FRLKFHF, respectively. These test peptides inhibited fungal growth and showed a membranolytic activity. The fungal biomass and ergosterol levels were significantly low in peptides treated samples. Further, the fungal cell wall component chitin was also found to be lower in peptides treated samples. Scanning electron microscopic images also showed highly wrinkled fungal mycelia. Significant membrane permeabilisation as well as potassium ion leakage was also observed in fungal samples treated with peptides. To assess the membrane damage, the uptake of Sytox green dye was employed. At tested concentration, peptides induced fungal membrane damage as evidenced by the green fluorescence. Further, at tested concentration, these peptides induced an oxidative stress in A.flavus as evidenced by an increase in the ROS production, malondialdehyde levels, increase in the antioxidant enzymes – superoxide dismutase, catalase with concomitant decrease in the reduced glutathione content. Additionally, a growth dependent reduction in aflatoxin levels were also observed in peptides treated samples. Docking studies on the interaction of the peptides with a trans-membrane protein calcium ATPase of A. flavus showed that all the peptides were able to bind to the protein with high z rank score. The activity of the calcium ATPase was significantly decreased in peptides treated fungal samples, thereby validating the docking results. Among all the tested peptides, 77-3 peptide exhibited the maximal membrane damage property.