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FEBS Lett. 1993 Apr 26;321(2-3):267-73.

The structure of neutrophil defensin genes.

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Will Rogers Institute Pulmonary Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine 90024-1736.


Defensins are a family of microbicidal peptides abundant in the granules of mammalian neutrophils, in rabbit alveolar macrophages, and in human and murine intestinal Paneth cells. We cloned and sequenced the genes of three neutrophil-specific defensins. Human HNP-1 and HNP-3 are nearly identical and rabbit NP-3a is closely related. The four known neutrophil-specific defensin genes are strikingly similar in the structure and organization of their three exons and two introns, but the three defensin genes expressed in macrophages (MCP-1 and -2) or Paneth cells (HD-5) are organized differently: HD-5 had only two exons, and MCP-1 and -2 have a comparatively short first intron. The diverse genomic organization of defensin genes may contribute to their cell-specific expression.

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