UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of bioinformatic and chemoinformatic approaches for structure-activity modelling and discovery of antimicrobial peptides Fjell, Christopher David


The emergence of pathogens resistant to available drug therapies is a pressing global health problem. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) may potentially form new therapeutics to counter these pathogens. AMPs are key components in the mammalian innate immune system and are responsible for both direct killing and immunomodulatory effects in host defense against pathogenic organisms. This thesis describes computational methods for the identification of novel natural and synthetic AMPs. A bioinformatic resource was constructed for classification and discovery of gene- coded AMPs, consisting of a database of clustered known AMPs and a set of hidden Markov models (HMMs). One set of 146 clusters was based on the mature peptide sequence, and one set of 40 clusters was based on propeptide sequence. The bovine genome was analyzed using the AMPer resources, and 27 of the 34 known bovine AMPs were identified with high confidence and up to 69 AMPs were predicted to be novel peptides. One novel cathelicidin AMP was experimentally verified as up-regulated in response to infection in bovine intestinal tissue. A chemoinformatic analysis was performed to model the antibacterial activity of short synthetic peptides. Using high-throughput screening data for the activities of over 1400 peptides of diverse sequence, quantitative structure-activity relation (QSAR) models were created using artificial neural networks and physical characteristics of the peptide that included three-dimensional atomic structure. The models were used to predict the activity of a set of approximately 100,000 peptide sequence variants. After ranking the predicted activity, the models were shown to be very accurate. When 200 peptides were synthesized and screened using four levels of expected activity, 94% of the top 50 peptides expected to have the highest level of activity were found to be highly active. Several promising candidates were synthesized with high quality and tested against several multi- antibiotic-resistant pathogens including clinical strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli. These peptides were found to be highly active against these pathogens as determined by minimal inhibitory concentration; this serves as independent confirmation of the effectiveness of high-throughput screening and in silico analysis for identifying peptide antibiotic drug leads.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International