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J Biol Chem. 2000 Oct 27;275(43):33969-73.

Characterization of luminal paneth cell alpha-defensins in mouse small intestine. Attenuated antimicrobial activities of peptides with truncated amino termini.

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  • 1Departments of Pathology and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-4800, USA. aoullet@UCI.EDU


Paneth cells at the base of small intestinal crypts secrete apical granules that contain antimicrobial peptides including alpha-defensins, termed cryptdins. Using an antibody specific for mouse cryptdin-1, -2, -3, and -6, immunogold-localization studies demonstrated that cryptdins are constituents of mouse Paneth cell secretory granules. Several cryptdin peptides have been purified from rinses of adult mouse small intestine by gel filtration and reverse-phase high performance liquid chromatography. Their primary structures were determined by peptide sequencing, and their antimicrobial activities were compared with those of the corresponding tissue forms. The isolated luminal cryptdins included peptides identical to the tissue forms of cryptdin-2, -4, and -6 as well as variants of cryptdin-1, -4, and -6 that have N termini truncated by one or two residues. In assays of antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and the defensin-sensitive Salmonella typhimurium phoP(-) mutant, full-length cryptdins had the same in vitro antibacterial activities whether isolated from tissue or from the lumen. In contrast, the N-terminal-truncated (des-Leu), (des-Leu-Arg)-cryptdin-6, and (des-Gly)-cryptdin-4 peptides were markedly less active. The microbicidal activities of recombinant cryptdin-4 and (des-Gly)-cryptdin-4 peptides against E. coli, and S. typhimurium showed that the N-terminal Gly residue or the length of the cryptdin-4 N terminus are determinants of microbicidal activity. Innate immunity in the crypt lumen may be modulated by aminopeptidase modification of alpha-defensins after peptide secretion.

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