Strongylocins, novel antimicrobial peptides from the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

Author(s): Li C, Haug T, Styrvold OB, JØrgensen TØ, Stensvåg K


Sea urchins possess an innate immune system and are regarded as a potential source for the discovery of new antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Here we report the purification and characterization of two novel antibacterial peptides (5.6 and 5.8kDa) from coelomocyte extracts of the green sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. These are the first reported AMPs isolated from sea urchins. The cDNA encoding the peptides and genomic sequences was isolated and sequenced. The two peptides (named strongylocins 1 and 2) have putative isoforms (1b and 2b), similar to two putative proteins from the purple sea urchin S. purpuratus. The native strongylocins are cationic, defensin-like peptides (cysteine-rich), but show no similarity to other known AMPs concerning the cysteine distribution pattern. Strongylocin 1 consists of 83 amino acids that include a preprosequence of 35 amino acids, whereas strongylocins 2a and 2b are composed of 89 and 90 amino acids, respectively, where 38 amino acids represent a preprosequence. No introns were found in the cloned gene of strongylocin 1b, whereas three introns and four exons were found in strongylocins 1a and 2a/b. The latter gene organization was also found in genes coding for putative strongylocins in S. purpuratus. The molecular mass difference between the native peptide and the deduced strongylocin 2 suggests that the first amino acid is bromotryptophan. The native peptides display potent activities against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.

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