Defensins are 2-6 kDa, cationic, microbicidal peptides active against many Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, fungi, and enveloped viruses, containing three pairs of intramolecular disulfide bonds. On the basis of their size and pattern of disulfide bonding, mammalian defensins are classified into alpha, beta and theta categories. Every mammalian species explored thus far has beta-defensins. In cows, as many as 13 beta-defensins exist in neutrophils. However, in other species, beta-defensins are more often produced by epithelial cells lining various organs (e.g. the epidermis, bronchial tree and genitourinary tract).
Human, rabbit and guinea-pig beta-defensins, as well as human beta-defensin-2 (hBD2), induce the activation and degranulation of mast cells, resulting in the release of histamine and prostaglandin D2.
Human proteins containing this domain
- Selsted ME, White SH, Wimley WC (1995). "Structure, function, and membrane integration of defensins". Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. 5 (4): 521–527. Unknown parameter
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- . hBD-1: a novel beta-defensin from human plasma. Bensch KW, Raida M, Magert HJ, Schulz-Knappe P, Forssmann WG; FEBS Lett 1995;368:331-335. PMID 7628632
- . The human beta-defensin-1 and alpha-defensins are encoded by adjacent genes: two peptide families with differing disulfide topology share a common ancestry. Liu L, Zhao C, Heng HH, Ganz T; Genomics 1997;43:316-320. PMID 9268634