Identification of a crocodylian β-defensin variant from Alligator mississippiensis with antimicrobial and antibiofilm activity

Felix L. Santana, Iván Arenas, Evan F. Haney, Karel Estrada, Robert E.W. Hancock, Gerardo Corzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


β-defensin host defense peptides are important components of the innate immune system of vertebrates. Although evidence of their broad antimicrobial, antibiofilm and immunomodulatory activities in mammals have been presented, β-defensins from other vertebrate species, like crocodylians, remain largely unexplored. In this study, five new crocodylian β-defensin variants from Alligator mississippiensis and Crocodylus porosus were selected for synthesis and characterization based on their charge and hydrophobicity values. Linear peptides were synthesized, folded, purified and then evaluated for their antimicrobial and antibiofilm activities against the bacterial pathogens, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter cloacae and Acinetobacter baumannii. The Am23SK variant (SCRFSGGYCIWNWERCRSGHFLVALCPFRKRCCK) from A. mississippiensis displayed promising activity against both planktonic cells and bacterial biofilms, outperforming the human β-defensin 3 under the experimental conditions. Moreover, Am23SK exhibited no cytotoxicity towards mammalian cells and exerted immunomodulatory effects in vitro, moderately suppressing the production of proinflammatory mediators from stimulated human bronchial epithelial cells. Overall, our results have expanded the activity landscape of crocodylian and reptilian β-defensin in general.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170549
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jul 2021


  • Biofilms
  • Host defense peptides
  • Immunomodulation
  • Reptiles
  • β-Defensins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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