Lasioglossin III (LL-III) is a cationic antimicrobial peptide derived from the venom of the eusocial bee Lasioglossum laticeps. LL-III is extremely toxic to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and it exhibits antifungal as well as antitumor activity. Moreover, it shows low hemolytic activity, and it has almost no toxic effects on eukaryotic cells. However, the molecular basis of the LL-III mechanism of action is still unclear. In this study, we characterized by means of calorimetric (DSC) and spectroscopic (CD, fluorescence) techniques its interaction with liposomes composed of a mixture of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-rac-phosphoglycerol (POPG) lipids as a model of the negatively charged membrane of pathogens. For comparison, the interaction of LL-III with the uncharged POPC liposomes was also studied. Our data showed that LL-III preferentially interacted with anionic lipids in the POPC/POPG liposomes and induces the formation of lipid domains. Furthermore, the leakage experiments showed that the peptide could permeabilize the membrane. Interestingly, our DSC results showed that the peptide-membrane interaction occurs in a non-disruptive manner, indicating an intracellular targeting mode of action for this peptide. Consistent with this hypothesis, our gel-retardation assay experiments showed that LL-III could interact with plasmid DNA, suggesting a possible intracellular target.
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