Fluorescence and Electron Microscopy Methods for Exploring Antimicrobial Peptides Mode(s) of Action

  • Ludovica Marcellini
  • Maria Giammatteo
  • Pierpaolo Aimola
  • Maria Luisa Mangoni
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 618)


Due to the increasing resistance of microbial pathogens to the available drugs, the identification of new antimicrobial agents with a new mechanism of action is urgently needed. In this context, cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are considered promising candidates. Although there is evidence that, in contrast to conventional antibiotics, microbial membranes are the principal target of a large number of AMPs, thus making it difficult for the pathogen to acquire resistance, their mode(s) of action is not yet completely clear. Intense research is currently devoted to understand the effect(s) of AMPs on intact cells, either at sub-lethal or at lethal peptide concentrations, and fluorescence/electron microscopy techniques represent a valid tool to get insight into the damage caused by these molecules on the morphology and membrane structure of the target cell. We here present an overview of some microscopic methodologies to address this issue.

Key words

Antimicrobial peptides mode(s) of action fluorescence microscopy scanning electron microscopy transmission electron microscopy membrane permeation 



We thank Prof. Donatella Barra for careful reading the manuscript. Work reported here has been supported in part by grants from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research and from the Università di Roma “La Sapienza”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ludovica Marcellini
    • 1
  • Maria Giammatteo
    • 2
  • Pierpaolo Aimola
    • 3
  • Maria Luisa Mangoni
    • 4
  1. 1.Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Dipartimento di Scienze BiochimicheUniversità “La Sapienza”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Centro di Microscopie, Università di L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Biologia di Base ed ApplicataUniversità di L’AquilaL’AquilaItaly
  4. 4.Istituto Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Dipartimento di Scienze Biochimiche, Azienda Ospedaliera S. AndreaUniversità “La Sapienza”RomaItaly

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