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BMC Genomics. 2010 Mar 19;11:187. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-11-187.

Antimicrobial peptide-like genes in Nasonia vitripennis: a genomic perspective.

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Group of Animal Innate Immunity, State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects & Rodents, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, PR China.



Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an essential component of innate immunity which can rapidly respond to diverse microbial pathogens. Insects, as a rich source of AMPs, attract great attention of scientists in both understanding of the basic biology of the immune system and searching molecular templates for anti-infective drug design. Despite a large number of AMPs have been identified from different insect species, little information in terms of these peptides is available from parasitic insects.


By using integrated computational approaches to systemically mining the Hymenopteran parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis genome, we establish the first AMP repertoire whose members exhibit extensive sequence and structural diversity and can be distinguished into multiple molecular types, including insect and fungal defensin-like peptides (DLPs) with the cysteine-stabilized alpha-helical and beta-sheet (CSalphabeta) fold; Pro- or Gly-rich abaecins and hymenoptaecins; horseshoe crab tachystatin-type AMPs with the inhibitor cystine knot (ICK) fold; and a linear alpha-helical peptide. Inducible expression pattern of seven N. vitripennis AMP genes were verified, and two representative peptides were synthesized and functionally identified to be antibacterial. In comparison with Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera) and several non-Hymenopteran model insects, N. vitripennis has evolved a complex antimicrobial immune system with more genes and larger protein precursors. Three classical strategies that are likely responsible for the complexity increase have been recognized: 1) Gene duplication; 2) Exon duplication; and 3) Exon-shuffling.


The present study established the N. vitripennis peptidome associated with antimicrobial immunity by using a combined computational and experimental strategy. As the first AMP repertoire of a parasitic wasp, our results offer a basic platform for further studying the immunological and evolutionary significances of these newly discovered AMP-like genes in this class of insects.

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