Identification of multiple novel epididymis-specific beta-defensin isoforms in humans and mice

J Immunol. 2002 Sep 1;169(5):2516-23. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.169.5.2516.


Defensins comprise a family of cationic antimicrobial peptides that are characterized by the presence of six conserved cysteine residues. We identified two novel human beta-defensin (hBD) isoforms by mining the public human genomic sequences. The predicted peptides conserve the six-cysteine motif identical with hBD-4, termed hBD-5 and hBD-6. We also evaluated the characteristics of the mouse homologs of hBD-5, hBD-6, and HE2beta1, termed mouse beta-defensin (mBD)-12, mBD-11, and mouse EP2e (mEP2e). The mBD-12 synthetic peptide showed salt-dependent antimicrobial activity. We demonstrate the epididymis-specific expression pattern of hBD-5, hBD-6, mBD-11, mBD-12, and mEP2e. In situ hybridization revealed mBD-11, mBD-12, and mEP2e expression in the columnar epithelium of the caput epididymis, contrasting with the predominant expression of mBD-3 in the capsule or septum of the whole epididymis. In addition, the regional specificity of mBD-11, mBD-12, and mEP2e was somewhat overlapping, but not identical, in the caput epididymis, suggesting that specific regulation may work for each member of the beta-defensin family. Our findings indicated that multiple beta-defensin isoforms specifically and cooperatively contribute to the innate immunity of the urogenital system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antigens, Surface / chemistry
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Epididymis / chemistry*
  • Epididymis / immunology
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Glycopeptides / chemistry
  • Glycopeptides / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family* / immunology
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • Organ Specificity / immunology
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / pharmacology
  • Recombinant Proteins*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid*
  • beta-Defensins / chemistry*
  • beta-Defensins / genetics
  • beta-Defensins / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antigens, Surface
  • DEFB105A protein, human
  • DEFB106A protein, human
  • Defb12 protein, mouse
  • Defb5 protein, mouse
  • Glycopeptides
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • SPAG11A protein, human
  • Spag11 protein, mouse
  • beta-Defensins