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FEBS Lett. 2007 Feb 6;581(3):515-20. Epub 2007 Jan 2.

Structure-dependent functional properties of human defensin 5.

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Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, 725 West Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The mucosal epithelium secretes a variety of antimicrobial peptides that act as part of the innate immune system to protect against invading microbes. Here, we describe the functional properties of human defensin (HD) 5, the major antimicrobial peptide produced by Paneth cells in the ileum, in relation to its structure. The antimicrobial activity of HD-5 against Escherichia coli proved to be independent of its structure, whereas the unstructured peptide showed greatly reduced antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus. We find that HD-5 binds to the cell membrane of intestinal epithelial cells and induced secretion of the chemokine interleukin (IL)-8 in a concentration- and structure-dependent fashion. Incubation of HD-5 in the presence of tumor necrosis factor alpha further increased IL-8 secretion synergistically, suggesting that HD-5 may act as a regulator of the intestinal inflammatory response.

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