Anticancer Activity of Periplanetasin-5, an Antimicrobial Peptide from the Cockroach Periplaneta americana

J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021 Oct 28;31(10):1343-1349. doi: 10.4014/jmb.2104.04040.


Cockroaches live in places where various pathogens exist and thus are more likely to use antimicrobial compounds to defend against pathogen intrusions. We previously performed an in silico analysis of the Periplaneta americana transcriptome and detected periplanetasin-5 using an in silico antimicrobial peptide prediction method. In this study, we investigated whether periplanetasin-5 has anticancer activity against the human leukemia cell line K562. Cell growth and survival of K562 cells treated with periplanetasin-5 were decreased in a dose-dependent manner. By using flow cytometric analysis, acridine orange/ethidium bromide (AO/EB) staining and DNA fragmentation, we found that periplanetasin-5 induced apoptotic and necrotic cell death in leukemia cells. In addition, these events were associated with increased levels of the pro-apoptotic proteins Fas and cytochrome c and reduced levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. Periplanetasin-5 induces the cleavage of pro-caspase-9, pro-caspase-8, pro-caspase-3, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). The above data suggest that periplanetasin-5 induces apoptosis via both the intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. Moreover, caspase-related apoptosis was further confirmed by using the caspase inhibitor carbobenzoxy-valyl-alanyl-aspartyl-[O-methyl]- fluoromethylketone (Z-VAD-FMK), which reversed the periplanetasin-5-induced reduction in cell viability. In conclusion, periplanetasin-5 caused apoptosis in leukemia cells, suggesting its potential utility as an anticancer therapeutic agent.

Keywords: Periplaneta americana; Periplanetasin-5; anticancer activity; antimicrobial peptide; apoptosis.