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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jan 3, 1995; 92(1): 195–199.
PMCID: PMC42844

FALL-39, a putative human peptide antibiotic, is cysteine-free and expressed in bone marrow and testis.

Abstract

PR-39, a proline/arginine-rich peptide antibiotic, has been purified from pig intestine and later shown to originate in the bone marrow. Intending to isolate a clone for a human counterpart to PR-39, we synthesized a PCR probe derived from the PR-39 gene. However, when this probe was used to screen a human bone marrow cDNA library, eight clones were obtained with information for another putative human peptide antibiotic, designated FALL-39 after the first four residues. FALL-39 is a 39-residue peptide lacking cysteine and tryptophan. All human peptide antibiotics previously isolated (or predicted) belong to the defensin family and contain three disulfide bridges. The clone for prepro-FALL-39 encodes a cathelin-like precursor protein with 170 amino acid residues. We have postulated a dibasic processing site for the mature FALL-39 and chemically synthesized the putative peptide. In basal medium E, synthetic FALL-39 was highly active against Escherichia coli and Bacillus megaterium. Residues 13-34 in FALL-39 can be predicted to form a perfect amphiphatic helix, and CD spectra showed that medium E induced 30% helix formation in FALL-39. RNA blot analyses disclosed that the gene for FALL-39 is expressed mainly in human bone marrow and testis.

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