Human Beta-Defensins

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Jun;63(11):1294-313. doi: 10.1007/s00018-005-5540-2.


The last decade led to the discovery and characterization of several human beta-defensins. Analysis of genomic information indicates that the number of beta-defensin-like molecules encoded by the human genome may number in the tens. Growing interest in beta-defensins steadily enhances our knowledge about various aspects of their gene location, expression patterns and the transcription factors involved in their regulation in vivo. The hallmark property of beta-defensins, their antimicrobial activity, is clearly only the tip of the iceberg in the extensive network of inter-relations within the immune system in which these peptides function. Structural studies of beta-defensins provide the molecular basis for a better understanding of their properties, functions and their potential for practical applications. In this review, we present some recent advances in the studies of human beta-defensins, with an emphasis on possible correlations between their structural and functional properties.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • beta-Defensins / chemistry*
  • beta-Defensins / classification
  • beta-Defensins / genetics
  • beta-Defensins / immunology
  • beta-Defensins / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • beta-Defensins