Primate defensins

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2004 Sep;2(9):727-38. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro976.

Abstract

Defensins are endogenous, cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides that contribute to host defence against bacterial, fungal and viral infections. There are three subfamilies of defensins in primates: alpha-defensins are most common in neutrophils and Paneth cells of the small intestine; beta-defensins protect the skin and the mucous membranes of the respiratory, genitourinary and gastrointestinal tracts; and theta-defensins, which are expressed only in Old World monkeys, lesser apes and orangutans, are lectins with broad-spectrum antiviral efficacy. Here, their discovery and recent advances in understanding their properties and functions are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology
  • Defensins / biosynthesis
  • Defensins / chemistry
  • Defensins / pharmacology*
  • Defensins / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Paneth Cells / immunology
  • Paneth Cells / metabolism
  • Primates / immunology
  • Primates / metabolism*
  • Primates / microbiology
  • Primates / virology
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Viruses / drug effects*

Substances

  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Defensins