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J Leukoc Biol. 2001 Sep;70(3):461-4.

Circular minidefensins and posttranslational generation of molecular diversity.

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Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095-1690, USA.


We purified two new minidefensins (RTD-2 and RTD-3) from the bone marrow of rhesus monkeys. Both were circular octadecapeptides that contained three intramolecular disulfide bonds and were homologous to RTD-1, a circular (theta) defensin previously described by Tang et al. (Science, 286, 498-502, 1999). However, whereas the 18 residues of RTD-1 represent spliced nonapeptide fragments derived from two different demidefensin precursors, RTD-2 and -3 comprise tandem nonapeptide repeats derived from only one of the RTD-1 precursors. Thus, circular minidefensins are products of a novel posttranslational system that generates effector molecule diversity without commensurate genome expansion. A system wherein two demidefensin genes can produce three circular minidefensins might allow n such genes to produce (n/2)(n+1) peptides.

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