Sarcotoxin IA is an antibacterial peptide that is secreted by a meat-fly Sarcophaga peregrina larva in response to a hypodermic injury or bacterial infection. This peptide is highly toxic against a broad spectrum of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and lethal to microbes even at nanomolar concentrations. However, research needs as well as its potential use in medicine require substantial amounts of highly purified sarcotoxin. Because heterologous expression systems proved to be inefficient due to sarcotoxin sensitivity to intracellular proteases, here we propose the biosynthesis of sarcotoxin precursors in Escherichia coli cells that are highly sensitive to the mature peptide. To optimize its biosynthesis, sarcotoxin was translationally fused with proteins highly expressed in E. coli. A fusion partner and the position of sarcotoxin in the chimeric polypeptide were crucial for protecting the sarcotoxin portion of the fusion protein from proteolysis. Released after chemical cleavage of the fusion protein and purified to homogeneity, sarcotoxin displayed antibacterial activity comparable to that previously reported for the natural peptide.
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