Antimicrobial activity of conditioned medium fractions from Spodoptera frugiperda Sf9 and Trichoplusia ni Hi5 insect cells

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005 Nov;69(1):92-8. doi: 10.1007/s00253-005-1958-6. Epub 2005 Oct 20.


Concentrated conditioned medium (CM) fractions from Spodoptera frugiperda Sf9 and Trichoplusia ni cells, eluting from a gel filtration column at around 10 kDa, were found to exhibit strong antibacterial activity against Bacillus megaterium and Escherichia coli. The B. megaterium cells incubated in the CM fraction from Sf9 cells rapidly lost viability: after 8 min the viability had decreased to 0.7%, as compared with the control. Addition of the CM fraction to E. coli cells resulted in a less drastic drop in viability: 65% viability was lost after 60 min of incubation. Further, exposure to the CM fraction caused a substantial leakage of intracellular proteins, as demonstrated by SDS-PAGE analysis. Cell lysis was confirmed by optical density measurements, microscopic investigations and flow cytometry. B. megaterium exposed to a CM fraction from T. ni cells lost 97% of their viability in about 40 min. Ubiquitin, thioredoxin and cyclophilin were identified in the antibacterial fraction from Sf9 cells by mass spectrometry and N-terminal amino acid sequencing. Other proteins in the fraction gave no matches in a database search. Since ubiquitin was shown not to cause the antimicrobial effect and thioredoxin and cyclophilin were likely not involved, the responsible agent may be an unknown protein, not yet registered in databases. The antimicrobial effect of the CM fraction from T. ni cells most probably comes from a lysozyme precursor protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacillus megaterium / drug effects
  • Bacillus megaterium / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteriolysis
  • Cell Line
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Cyclophilins / isolation & purification
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Lepidoptera / cytology
  • Lepidoptera / metabolism*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Photometry
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Spodoptera / cytology
  • Spodoptera / metabolism*
  • Thioredoxins / isolation & purification
  • Ubiquitin / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Ubiquitin
  • Thioredoxins
  • Cyclophilins