Ink-Jet Printing-Assisted Modification on Polyethersulfone Membranes Using a UV-Reactive Antimicrobial Peptide for Fouling-Resistant Surfaces

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are promising candidates for surface coatings to control biofilm growth on water treatment membranes because of their broad activity and the low tendency of bacteria to develop resistance to AMPs. However, general and convenient surface modification methods are limited, and a deeper understanding of the antimicrobial mechanism of action is needed for surface-attached AMPs. Here, we show a method for covalently attaching AMPs on porous ultrafiltration membranes using ink-jet printing and provide insight into the mode of action for the covalently tethered peptide RWRWRWA-(Bpa) (Bpa, 4-benzophenylalanine) against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. AMP-coated ultrafiltration membranes showed surface antibacterial activity and reduced biofilm growth. Fluorescence microscopy analysis revealed that the modified surfaces could cause cell membrane disruption, which was seen by live uptake of propidium iodide stain, and scanning electron microscopy images showed compromised cell membranes of attached bacteria. This study indicated that the mode of action of covalently tethered AMPs was similar to that of freely soluble AMPs. The deeper understanding of the mode of action of AMPs covalently attached to surfaces could lead to a more rational approach for designing surfaces with antibacterial activity.