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Eisenhauer, PB, Harwig, SS and Lehrer, RI (1992) Cryptdins: antimicrobial defensins of the murine small intestine. Infect. Immun. 60:3556-65


Paneth cells are specialized small intestine epithelial cells that contain lysozyme, possess phagocytic properties, and secrete cytoplasmic granules into the intestinal crypt lumen after the entry of bacteria. Recent studies by Ouellette and associates (A. J. Ouellette, R. M. Greco, M. James, D. Frederick, J. Naftilan, and J. T. Fallon, J. Cell Biol. 108:1687-1695, 1989) indicated that murine Paneth cells produce prodefensin mRNA, but the properties of its peptide product were not reported. We purified two closely related defensins, cryptdin 1 and cryptdin 2, from a subcellular fraction of murine small intestine cells that was enriched in Paneth cells. Both peptides contained 35 amino acid residues, including the characteristic defensin "signature" of six invariantly conserved cysteines. Cryptdins 1 and 2 were approximately 90 to 95% homologous to each other and to the carboxy-terminal domain of the 93-amino-acid defensin precursor, cryptdin A, described by Ouellette and associates (Ouellette et al., J. Cell Biol. 108:1687-1695, 1989). Both cryptdins exerted bactericidal activity against Listeria monocytogenes EGD and Escherichia coli ML-35p in vitro. Their potency exceeded that of human neutrophil defensin HNP-1 but was considerably lower than that of NP-1, a defensin produced by rabbit neutrophils and alveolar macrophages. Both cryptdins killed mouse-avirulent Salmonella typhimurium 7953S (phoP) much more effectively than its phoP+, mouse-virulent, isogenic counterpart, S. typhimurium 14028S. Our data indicate that mouse intestinal prodefensins are processed into 35-amino-acid mature defensins (cryptdins) with broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. The production of defensins and lysozyme by Paneth cells may enable them to protect the small intestine from bacterial overgrowth by autochthonous flora and from invasion by potential pathogens that cause infection via the peroral route, such as L. monocytogenes and Salmonella species.


PubMed PMC257361


Amino Acid Sequence; Amino Acids/analysis; Animals; Bacteria/drug effects; Female; Intestine, Small/chemistry; Mice; Molecular Sequence Data; Protein Precursors/analysis; Protein Precursors/isolation & purification; Protein Precursors/pharmacology; Proteins/analysis; Proteins/isolation & purification; Proteins/pharmacology



Gene product Qualifier GO Term Evidence Code with/from Aspect Extension Notes Status


GO:0050830: defense response to Gram-positive bacterium



figure 8



GO:0042581: specific granule



figure 6- immunohistochemical localization to the Paneth cell granules


See also


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