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J Immunol. 2011 Jul 1;187(1):382-90. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001769. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Antimicrobial activity of PLUNC protects against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


Epithelial antimicrobial activity may protect the lung against inhaled pathogens. The bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein family has demonstrated antimicrobial activity in vitro. PLUNC (palate, lung, and nasal epithelium associated) is a 25-kDa secreted protein that shares homology with bactericidal/permeability-increasing proteins and is expressed in nasopharyngeal and respiratory epithelium. The objective of this study was to determine whether PLUNC can limit Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in mice. Transgenic mice (Scgb1a1-hPLUNC) were generated in which human PLUNC (hPLUNC) was directed to the airway epithelium with the Scgb1a1 promoter. The hPLUNC protein (hPLUNC) was detected in the epithelium throughout the trachea and bronchial airways and in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from transgenic mice exhibited higher antibacterial activity than that from wild type littermates in vitro. After in vivo P. aeruginosa challenge, Scgb1a1-hPLUNC transgenic mice displayed enhanced bacterial clearance. This was accompanied by a decrease in neutrophil infiltration and cytokine levels. More importantly, the overexpressed hPLUNC in Scgb1a1-hPLUNC transgenic mouse airway significantly enhanced mouse survival against P. aeruginosa-induced respiratory infection. These data indicate that PLUNC is a novel antibacterial protein that likely plays a critical role in airway epithelium-mediated innate immune response.

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