Mouse Paneth cell defensins: primary structures and antibacterial activities of numerous cryptdin isoforms

Infect Immun. 1994 Nov;62(11):5040-7. doi: 10.1128/iai.62.11.5040-5047.1994.


Cryptdins are antimicrobial peptides of the defensin family that are produced by intestinal Paneth cells. mRNAs encoding 17 cryptdin isoforms have been characterized from a cDNA library generated from a single jejunal crypt. Six cryptdin cDNAs correspond to known peptides, and the remainder predict 11 novel Paneth cell defensins. Most cryptdin cDNAs have > or = 93% nucleotide sequence identity overall, except for cryptdin 4 and 5 cDNAs, whose respective mature peptide-encoding regions are only 74 and 78% identical to that of cryptdin 1. Cryptdin cDNAs differ at a small number of nucleotide positions: frequent substitutions were found in codons 38 and 52 of the propiece and in codons 68, 73, 76, 87, and 89 of the deduced peptides; cDNA clones with changes in codons 74, 83, and 88 were found, but there were fewer of these. The antimicrobial activities of cryptdins 1 to 6 were tested against Escherichia coli ML35 in two assays. In an agar diffusion assay, the potencies of cryptdins 1 to 3, 5, and 6 were approximately equivalent to that of rabbit neutrophil defensin NP-1 but cryptdin 4 was 30 times more active than NP-1. In a bactericidal assay system, cryptdins 1 and 3 to 6 were equally active at 10 micrograms/ml but cryptdin 2 and rabbit NP-1 were not active at this concentration. Since cryptdins 2 and 3 differ only at residue 10 (Thr and Lys, respectively), this amino acid appears to function in bactericidal interaction with E. coli. The demonstration that Paneth cells express a diverse population of microbicidal defensins further implicates cryptdins in restricting colonization or invasion of small intestinal epithelium by bacteria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Precursors / chemistry*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Protein Precursors
  • Proteins
  • cryptdin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/S73391