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Eur J Biochem. 1994 Apr 1;221(1):201-9.

Characterization and transcriptional profiles of a Drosophila gene encoding an insect defensin. A study in insect immunity.

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UPR CNRS Réponse immunitair et Développement chez les Insectes, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Strasbourg, France.


Insect defensins are a family of 4-kDa, cationic, inducible antibacterial peptides which bear six cysteine residues engaged in three intramolecular disulfide bridges. They owe their name to certain sequence similarities with defensins from mammalian neutrophiles and macrophages. We report the characterization of a novel defensin isoform from Drosophila and the cloning of the gene encoding a preprodefensin. The gene, which is intronless and present in a single copy/haploid genome, maps at position 46CD on the right arm of the second chromosome. The analysis of the upstream region of the gene reveals the presence of multiple putative cis-regulatory sequences similar to mammalian regulatory motifs of acute-phase-response genes. Transcriptional profiles indicate that the Drosophila defensin gene is induced by bacterial challenge with acute-phase kinetics. It is also expressed in the absence of immune challenge during metamorphosis. These and other data on the Drosophila defensin gene lead us to suggest that insect and mammalian defensins have evolved independently.

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