Membrane disrupting peptides: mechanistic elucidation of antimicrobial activity
Membrane-disrupting peptides have long been considered as promising anti-infective and anticancer agents. Over the last decade significant progress has been made in the elucidation of their modes of action using high-resolution measurements. Of particular interest are fundamental insights obtained using time resolved imaging capabilities which enable the direct visualisation of membrane disruption at the nanoscale. These new insights help revise existing concepts and models proposed for antimicrobial mechanisms and improve our understanding of structure–function relationships in membrane-disrupting peptides allowing for the design of more effective antimicrobials. In this chapter various mechanisms discovered by atomic force microscopy imaging performed in aqueous environments are discussed. An emphasis is made on the impact peptide sequence, structure and environment have on the observed mechanisms.