Objective: Human defensins and cathelicidins are a family of cationic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which play multiple roles in both innate and adaptive immune systems. They have direct antimicrobial activity against several microorganisms including burn pathogens. The majority of components of innate and adaptive immunity either express naturally occurring defensins or are otherwise chemoattracted or functionally affected by them. They also enhance adaptive immunity and wound healing and alter antibody production. All mechanisms to explain multiple functions of AMPs are not clearly understood. Prior studies to localize defensins in normal and burned skin using deconvolution fluorescence scanning microscopy indicate localization of defensins in the nucleus, perinuclear regions, and cytoplasm. The objective of this study is to further confirm the identification of HBD-1 in the nucleus by deconvolution microscopic studies involving image reconstruction and wire frame modeling.
Results: Our study demonstrated the presence of intranuclear HBD-1 in keratinocytes throughout the stratum spinosum by costaining with the nuclear probe DAPI. In addition, HBD-1 sequence does show some homology with known cationic nuclear localization signal sequences.
Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first report to localize HBD-1 in the nuclear region, suggesting a role for this peptide in gene expression and providing new data that may help determine mechanisms of defensin functions.