The mycobactericidal properties of macrophages include the delivery of bacteria to a hydrolytic lysosome enriched in bactericidal ubiquitin-derived peptides (Ub-peptides). To improve our understanding of interactions of ubiquitin-derived peptides with mycobacteria, we further characterized the structure and function of bactericidal Ub-peptide Ub2. We found that Ub2 adopts a β-sheet conformation in the context of sodium dodecyl sulfate micelles and phospholipid (1:1 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol/1- palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine) vesicles that was dependent upon the primary sequence of the peptide. Point mutations in Ub2 that reduced the net charge of the peptide decreased Ub2 bactericidal activity. We investigated Ub-peptide function in the context of model membranes and intact bacteria. Differential scanning calorimetry analysis demonstrated that Ub2 inserts into and perturbs model phospholipid vesicles. In addition, we demonstrate that Ub2 disrupts the integrity of the mycobacterial membrane, equilibrates the transmembrane potential, and is localized within both the mycobacterial membrane and cytoplasm of treated bacteria. Finally, we identified additional bactericidal Ub-peptides and characterized their activity and structure. This study provides new insight into the mycobactericidal mechanisms of Ub-peptides.
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