Centrocins: isolation and characterization of novel dimeric antimicrobial peptides from the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Author(s): Li C, Haug T, Moe MK, Styrvold OB, Stensvåg K


As immune effector molecules, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) play an important role in the invertebrate immune system. Here, we present two novel AMPs, named centrocins 1 (4.5kDa) and 2 (4.4kDa), purified from coelomocyte extracts of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The native peptides are cationic and show potent activities against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The centrocins have an intramolecular heterodimeric structure, containing a heavy chain (30 amino acids) and a light chain (12 amino acids). The cDNA encoding the peptides and genomic sequences were cloned and sequenced. One putative isoform (centrocin 1b) was identified and one intron was found in the genes coding for the centrocins. The full length protein sequence of centrocin 1 consists of 119 amino acids, whereas centrocin 2 consists of 118 amino acids which both include a preprosequence of 51 or 50 amino acids for centrocins 1 and 2, respectively, and an interchain of 24 amino acids between the heavy and light chain. The difference of molecular mass between the native centrocins and the deduced sequences from cDNA indicates that the native centrocins contain a post-translational brominated tryptophan. In addition, two amino acids at the C-terminal, Gly-Arg, were removed from the light chains during the post-translational processing. The separate peptide chains of centrocin 1 were synthesized and the heavy chain alone was shown to be sufficient for antimicrobial activity. The genome of the closely related species, the purple sea urchin (S. purpuratus), was shown to contain two putative proteins with high similarity to the centrocins.

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