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Utilization of a recombinant defensin from Maize (Zea mays L.) as a potential antimicrobial peptide

  • Al Kashgry, Najla Amin T.1
  • Abulreesh, Hussein H.2, 2
  • El-Sheikh, Iman A.1, 2
  • Almaroai, Yaser A.2, 2
  • Salem, Reda3
  • Mohamed, Ismail3
  • Waly, Fatma R.3
  • Osman, Gamal2, 2, 3
  • Mohamed, Mahmoud S. M.4
  • 1 Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia , Taif (Saudi Arabia)
  • 2 Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia , Makkah (Saudi Arabia)
  • 3 Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute (AGERI), ARC, Giza, 12619, Egypt , Giza (Egypt)
  • 4 Cairo University, Giza, 12613, Egypt , Giza (Egypt)
Published Article
AMB Express
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Nov 25, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13568-020-01146-9
Springer Nature


The search for effective and bioactive antimicrobial molecules to encounter the medical need for new antibiotics is an encouraging area of research. Plant defensins are small cationic, cysteine-rich peptides with a stabilized tertiary structure by disulfide-bridges and characterized by a wide range of biological functions. The heterologous expression of Egyptian maize defensin (MzDef) in Escherichia coli and subsequent purification by glutathione affinity chromatography yielded 2 mg/L of recombinant defensin peptide. The glutathione-S-transferase (GST)-tagged MzDef of approximately 30 kDa in size (26 KDa GST + ~ 4 KDa MzDef peptide) was immunodetected with anti-GST antibodies. The GST-tag was successfully cleaved from the MzDef peptide by thrombin, and the removal was validated by the Tris-Tricine gel electrophoresis. The MzDef induced strong growth inhibition of Rhizoctonia solani, Fusarium verticillioides, and Aspergillus niger by 94.23%, 93.34%, and 86.25%, respectively, whereas relatively weak growth inhibitory activity of 35.42% against Fusarium solani was recorded. Moreover, strong antibacterial activities were demonstrated against E. coli and Bacillus cereus and the moderate activities against Salmonella enterica and Staphylococcus aureus at all tested concentrations (0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, and 3.2 µM). Furthermore, the in vitro MTT assay exhibited promising anticancer activity against all tested cell lines (hepatocellular carcinoma, mammary gland breast cancer, and colorectal carcinoma colon cancer) with IC50 values ranging from 14.85 to 29.85 µg/mL. These results suggest that the recombinant peptide MzDef may serve as a potential alternative antimicrobial and anticancer agent to be used in medicinal application.

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