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J Innate Immun. 2011;3(3):315-26. doi: 10.1159/000322037. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

Bactericidal activity of mouse α-defensin cryptdin-4 predominantly affects noncommensal bacteria.

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Innate Immunity Laboratory, Graduate School of Life Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.


Mouse Paneth cell α-defensins, termed cryptdins, are secreted into the intestinal lumen, have microbicidal activity, and contribute to intestinal innate immunity. Among them, cryptdin-4 (Crp4) has the most potent microbicidal activity. In the intestinal lumen, commensal bacteria colonize and elicit beneficial effects in the host. However, the effects of Crp4 against commensal bacteria are poorly understood. Thus, we investigated the bactericidal activities of Crp4 against commensal bacteria compared to noncommensal bacteria. Oxidized Crp4 showed only minimal or no bactericidal activity against 8 out of 12 commensal bacterial species, including Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus casei. We further addressed a role of the conserved disulfide bonds of Crp4 by analyzing reduced Crp4 (r-Crp4). r-Crp4 demonstrated significantly greater bactericidal activities against 7 of 12 commensal bacteria than did oxidized Crp4. Oxidized Crp4 and r-Crp4 elicited equivalently potent bactericidal activities against 11 of the 11 noncommensal bacteria tested, such as Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium,and against 5 of 12 commensal bacteria. Furthermore, when r-Crp4 was exposed to a processing enzyme of cryptdins, i.e. MMP-7, r-Crp4 was degraded and the bactericidal activities disappeared. These findings suggest that Crp4 has selective bactericidal activities against intestinal microbiota and that the activities are dependent on the disulfide bonds.

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