Novel peptide dermaseptin-PS1 exhibits anticancer activity via induction of intrinsic apoptosis signalling

J Cell Mol Med. 2019 Feb;23(2):1300-1312. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.14032. Epub 2018 Nov 20.


Antimicrobial peptides (AMP) secreted by the granular glands of frog skin have been widely reported to exhibit strong bacteriostatic and bactericidal activities. Many of them have been documented with potent antiproliferative effects on multiple cancer cells, many studies also suggested that AMPs exert their functions via disrupting cell membranes. However, whether and how other cell death induction mechanism is involved in mammalian cancer cells has rarely been investigated. In this study, a novel AMP named Dermaseptin-PS1 was isolated and identified from Phyllomedusa sauvagei, it showed strong antimicrobial activities against three types of microorganisms. In vitro antiproliferative studies on human glioblastoma U-251 MG cells indicated that Dermaseptin-PS1 disrupted cell membranes at the concentrations of 10-5 M and above, while the cell membrane integrity was not affected when concentrations were decreased to 10-6 M or lower. Further examinations revealed that, at the relatively low concentration (10-6 M), Dermaseptin-PS1 induced apoptosis through mitochondrial-related signal pathway in U-251 MG cells. Thus, for the first time, we report a novel frog skin derived AMP with anticancer property by distinct mechanisms, which largely depends on its concentration. Together, our study provides new insights into the mechanism-illustrated drug design and the optimisation of dose control for cancer treatment in clinic.

Keywords: antimicrobial peptides; apoptosis; concentration; dermaseptin; mitochondria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amphibian Proteins / chemistry
  • Amphibian Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anura
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Sequence Homology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Amphibian Proteins
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • dermaseptin