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From genes to function: variation in antimicrobial activity of avian β-defensin peptides from mallards
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology)
(Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology)
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Abstract [en]

Avian β-defensins are an important class of antimicrobial peptides in birds. These short cationic peptides are directly involved in the clearance of infections by membrane disruption, but can also act as immunomodulators and chemotactic agents recruiting immune cells. Recent genomic studies have shown the presence of several different avian β-defensin (AvBD) genes across the avian phylogeny, but also significant copy number variation and occurrence of pseudogenes. In mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and other waterfowl AvBD genes are conserved and seem to be maintained by purifying selection. Due to their relatively simple peptide structure and direct mode of action, AvBDs is a potential tractable system to investigate how small differences in the gene sequence translates into differences in immune function. Here, we used genomic information from three different mallard defensin loci (AvBD4, AvBD10 and AvBD13) and synthesized the linear peptides from the most common allele of each locus, plus two rare alleles from AvBD13 locus and measured their antimicrobial activity against Gram-negative (E. coli and S. Typhimurium) and Gram-positive (S. aureus and M. luteus) bacteria. In these assays, AvBD4 showed the most potent antibacterial activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, with an IC50 value of 0.48 mM against S. Typhimurium. Among AvBD13 peptides, the less frequently observed AvBD13:2 variant, was most potent, with IC50 value against S. aureus approximately 15 times lower than that of the most common AvBD13:1. Interestingly, AvBD10 had no antibacterial effect on the tested bacteria. Thus, antimicrobial function varied substantially among loci, but also within the AvBD13 locus, suggesting a direct link between genetic variation and immune function variation. Interestingly, results from assays with AvBD4 and AvBD13 seem to indicate that a higher positive net charge in peptides is associated with a more potent antibacterial effect.

National Category
Immunology
Research subject
Biomedical Sciences, Immunology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-91974OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-91974DiVA, id: diva2:1392377
Available from: 2020-02-07 Created: 2020-02-07 Last updated: 2020-02-07
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