Pro-rich antimicrobial peptides from animals: structure, biological functions and mechanism of action

Curr Pharm Des. 2002;8(9):763-78. doi: 10.2174/1381612023395394.


Pro-rich antimicrobial peptides are a group of linear peptides of innate immunity isolated from mammals and invertebrates, and characterised by a high content of proline residues (up to 50%). Members of this group are predominantly active against Gram-negative bacterial species which they kill by a non-lytic mechanism, at variance with the majority of the known antimicrobial peptides. Evidence is accumulating that the Pro-rich peptides enter the cells without membrane lysis and, once in the cytoplasm, bind to, and inhibit the activity of specific molecular targets essential to bacterial growth, thereby causing cell death. This mode of action makes these peptides suitable for drug development efforts. In addition to antibacterial action, PR-39, one of the better characterised Pro-rich peptides from mammals, exerts other potentially exploitable biological activities, such as induction of syndecan expression in mesenchymal cells and inhibition of the NADPH oxidase activity of neutrophils, suggesting a role of this peptide in wound repair and inflammation. PR-39 also exerts a protective effect in various animal models of ischemia-reperfusion injury, preventing the post-ischemic oxidant production, and is a potent inducer of angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Although the physiological relevance of all these effects has not yet been established, the above observations underscore the therapeutic potential of this peptide in a number of complex processes such as inflammation, wound repair, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / immunology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / immunology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / pharmacology
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Proline
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Proline