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Biochemistry. 2000 Dec 26;39(51):15757-64.

Three-dimensional structure of RK-1: a novel alpha-defensin peptide.

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Centre for Drug Design and Development, Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Department of Biochemistry, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.


NMR spectroscopy and simulated annealing calculations have been used to determine the three-dimensional structure of RK-1, an antimicrobial peptide from rabbit kidney recently discovered from homology screening based on the distinctive physicochemical properties of the corticostatins/defensins. RK-1 consists of 32 residues, including six cysteines arranged into three disulfide bonds. It exhibits antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli and activates Ca(2+) channels in vitro. Through its physicochemical similarity, identical cysteine spacing, and linkage to the corticostatins/defensins, it was presumed to be a member of this family. However, RK-1 lacks both a large number of arginines in the primary sequence and a high overall positive charge, which are characteristic of this family of peptides. The three-dimensional solution structure, determined by NMR, consists of a triple-stranded antiparallel beta-sheet and a series of turns and is similar to the known structures of other alpha-defensins. This has enabled the definitive classification of RK-1 as a member of this family of antimicrobial peptides. Ultracentrifuge measurements confirmed that like rabbit neutrophil defensins, RK-1 is monomeric in solution, in contrast to human neutrophil defensins, which are dimeric.

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