Reeling in New Antibiotics: Synthesis and Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing of Zinc-Binding Clavanins from Styela clava (Sea Squirt)

Date of Completion

Spring 5-12-2021

Thesis Advisor(s)

Alfredo Angeles-Boza

Honors Major

Molecular and Cell Biology


Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biochemistry | Medicinal-Pharmaceutical Chemistry | Organic Chemicals | Organic Chemistry | Other Chemicals and Drugs


Clavanins have been a quite rarely studied antimicrobial peptide (AMP) family. Though the data in the few studies published on the matter and in theoretical experimental data presented by the Wang lab in their peptide library creation [14], in that the members of this family could potentially be quite effective novel antimicrobial candidates. Among those that have been targets of studies, Clavanin A has been at the forefront of this endeavor of finding effective novel antimicrobial peptides[14]. In these aforementioned studies, Clavanin A has been shown to be quite effective against many different bacterial strains, which begs the question as to whether any other of the members in its family would be good candidates as well. With this in mind, some researchers noticed that in addition, these peptides could bind to metal ions directed by the bountiful histidine residues in the ClavA structure. With the exploitation of this ability, it was determined that only zinc will enhance the antimicrobial susceptibility of Clav. A when bound to the histidine residues. Using this understanding as a basis, in this experimentation, two other members of the AMP family, Clavanin D and DTyr were synthesized and analyzed in order to see their antimicrobial susceptibility against Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis with and without Zinc ions bound to their structures. Data obtained suggests that Clavanin D and DTyr do show effective antimicrobial susceptibility against both bacterial strains at lower pH levels (5.5), and addition of Zinc ions to its structure didn’t impact the susceptibility previously mentioned. Upon further examination of the results it would be meritorious to investigate a potential mechanism of action of this activity in order to better understand the molecules ability and further explore other avenues in research with this peptide as a potential candidate for antibiotic use in patients.

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