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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Functional and chemical characterization of Hymenoptaecin, an antibacterial polypeptide that is infection-inducible in the honeybee (Apis mellifera).

As part of our ongoing search for novel antimicrobial agents and their use in singular or combined drug therapy, we have isolated a series of polypeptides from the lymph fluid of honeybees. These polypeptides are synthesized de novo, following experimental infection of the insect with live Escherichia coli cells, and confer a broad-spectrum antibacterial defense to the host. We have dissected this humoral "immune" system into its constituent components. In addition to the previously characterized apidaecins and abaecin, we also isolated a member of the defensin family of peptide antibiotics and, now, a novel 93-amino acid long, cationic polypeptide, termed hymenoptaecin. Detailed analysis established the complete chemical structure, including a 2-pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid at the N terminus, and indicated major differences with all known antibacterial polypeptides. Under physiological conditions, it inhibits viability of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, including several human pathogens. Lethal effects against E. coli are secondary to sequential permeabilization of outer and inner membrane. In combination, the six-constituent "peptide antibiotics" of bee lymph provide wide-spectrum antibacterial protection in vitro by virtue of complementarity rather than synergism.[1]


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