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Antibacterial peptides: basic facts and emerging concepts.

Authors
  • Boman, H G
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of internal medicine
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2003
Volume
254
Issue
3
Pages
197–215
Identifiers
PMID: 12930229
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Antibacterial peptides are the effector molecules of innate immunity. Generally they contain 15-45 amino acid residues and the net charge is positive. The cecropin type of linear peptides without cysteine were found first in insects, whilst the defensin type with three disulphide bridges were found in rabbit granulocytes. Now a database stores more than 800 sequences of antibacterial peptides and proteins from the animal and plant kingdoms. Generally, each species has 15-40 peptides made from genes, which code for only one precursor. The dominating targets are bacterial membranes and the killing reaction must be faster than the growth rate of the bacteria. Some antibacterial peptides are clearly multifunctional and an attempt to predict this property from the hydrophobicity of all amino acid side chains are given. Gene structures and biosynthesis are known both in the fruit fly Drosophila and several mammals. Humans need two classes of defensins and the cathelicidin-derived linear peptide LL-37. Clinical cases show that deficiencies in these peptides give severe symptoms. Examples given are morbus Kostmann and atopic allergy. Several antibacterial peptides are being developed as drugs.

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