Nigellothionins from Black Cumin (Nigella sativa L.) Seeds Demonstrate Strong Antifungal and Cytotoxic Activity


Antibiotics (Basel). 2021 Feb 6;10(2):166. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics10020166.


High-cationic biologically active peptides of the thionins family were isolated from black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) seeds. According to their physicochemical characteristics, they were classified as representatives of the class I thionin subfamily. Novel peptides were called “Nigellothionins”, so-called because of their source plant. Thionins are described as components of plant innate immunity to environmental stress factors. Nine nigellothionins were identified in the plant in different amounts. Complete amino acid sequences were determined for three of them, and a high degree of similarity was detected. Three nigellothionins were examined for antifungal properties against collection strains. The dominant peptide, NsW2, was also examined for activity against clinical isolates of fungi. Cytotoxic activity was determined for NsW2. Nigellothionins activity against all collection strains and clinical isolates varied from absence to a value comparable to amphotericin B, which can be explained by the presence of amino acid substitutions in their sequences. Cytotoxic activity in vitro for NsW2 was detected at sub-micromolar concentrations. This has allowed us to propose an alteration of the molecular mechanism of action at different concentrations. The results obtained suggest that nigellothionins are natural compounds that can be used as antimycotic and anti-proliferative agents.

PMID:33562041 | PMC:PMC7914917 | DOI:10.3390/antibiotics10020166