The interaction between peptides and lipids is of outmost significance in pathological conditions such as viral infection, antimicrobial defence and neurodegenerative disorders. The scope of the EU-funded MEMPEPACROSS project was to understand how such interactions lead to different diseases and to find ways to address it. In particular, MEMPEPACROSS scientists investigated three different situations where peptide-lipid interaction is important. The first one was in the case of dengue virus, the causative agent of viral haemorrhagic fever and a possible threat to many European countries. Virus assembly requires the association of capsid proteins with intracellular lipid droplets and very low density lipoproteins, rendering this interaction a potential antiviral target. Another situation where interaction with lipids is important is in the case of gene-encoded antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). AMPs constitute an innate immune response to prevent colonisation and infection by microbial pathogens. Pathogens are unable to resist AMPs, rendering them promising candidates for new generations of drugs especially against antibiotic-resistant microbes. During the project, the molecular mechanisms of different AMPs with selective antibacterial and antimycotic activity were unveiled. Furthermore, researchers studied the peptide-membrane interactions in Alzheimer's disease and how they could trigger neurodegeneration. They identified kyotorphin as a biomarker for this condition and its putative role as a neuroprotective agent. Collectively, the collaborative work of the MEMPEPACROSS consortium underscored the importance of peptide-lipid interactions and suggested ways of modulating it for therapeutic purposes.
Peptide, lipid, dengue virus, antimicrobial peptides, kyotorphin, neuroprotective