Expanding the Landscape of Amino Acid-Rich Antimicrobial Peptides: Definition, Deployment in Nature, Implications for Peptide Design and Therapeutic Potential

Unlike the α-helical and β-sheet antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), our knowledge on amino acid-rich AMPs is limited. This article conducts a systematic study of rich AMPs (>25%) from different life kingdoms based on the Antimicrobial Peptide Database (APD) using the program R. Of 3425 peptides, 724 rich AMPs were identified. Rich AMPs are more common in animals and bacteria than in plants. In different animal classes, a unique set of rich AMPs is deployed. While histidine, proline, and arginine-rich AMPs are abundant in mammals, alanine, glycine, and leucine-rich AMPs are common in amphibians. Ten amino acids (Ala, Cys, Gly, His, Ile, Lys, Leu, Pro, Arg, and Val) are frequently observed in rich AMPs, seven (Asp, Glu, Phe, Ser, Thr, Trp, and Tyr) are occasionally observed, and three (Met, Asn, and Gln) were not yet found. Leucine is much more frequent in forming rich AMPs than either valine or isoleucine. To date, no natural AMPs are simultaneously rich in leucine and lysine, while proline, tryptophan, and cysteine-rich peptides can simultaneously be rich in arginine. These findings can be utilized to guide peptide design. Since multiple candidates are potent against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, rich AMPs stand out as promising future antibiotics. (Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov; 23(21): 12874.)