Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Too hot to handle --new antibiotic peptides...from ghost peppers?!?


I haven't paid much attention to antibiotic developments recently but when I was in grad school (in a microbiology department) the fact the world was just about out of antibiotics way back then was a pretty big deal. 

Want to go hunting for some new antibiotic peptides in material you wouldn't necessarily suspect would have them? You can't go wrong starting with what is detailed in this great new study!

Ghost peppers have antibiotic properties? I'm sure you're familiar, but this is the crazy hybrid pepper that typically checks in at over 1e6 scoville units. A typical jalapeno is 2,000 to 5,000 depending on how badly you mistreat the plant and different habanero varieties are in the 1e5s.

Before you get too excited, I started this post with the chart above which demonstrated the antibiotic properties each HPLC fraction had against E.coli because I don't think that Taco Bell uses the late eluting fractions. This study shouldn't be used as justification to start another petition. 225 supporters? I'm sure this one impressed a giant global corporation. 

Jokes aside, this is a really well executed study on how to hunt down antibiotic compounds from an extremly complex and largely uncharacterized starting material. This team worked out inhibitory curves against at least 5 different bacteria, both gram positive and negative. And progressively worked their way to enriching and characterizing a large endogenous peptide responsible for this activity. The LCMS work was performed with a SCIEX 5600 and Q Exactive HF-X and the files are up on ProteomeXchange via PXD024605 and -- this is something super cool I wouldn't have thought of at all -- the plant that produced this pepper has also been deposited at a greenhouse at UNC! What a great idea for both reproducibility and in case this specific plant was a one-off, I guess? The Ghost pepper is a recently generated hybrid plant product and plant genomics can be super whacky. 

This blog doesn't have a lot of rules, but one is and will always be: if Randy Savage ever said the title of your paper in an interview it has to be linked here. 


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