A ˜1.7 kDa antimicrobial peptide was purified from the acidified body extract of the Lugworm, Marphysa sanguinea, by preparative acid-urea–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and C18 reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The identified peptide is composed of 14 amino acids with the N-terminal acetylation. Comparison of the identified amino acid sequences and molecular weight of this peptide with those of other known proteins or peptides revealed that this peptide had high identity to the N-terminus of hemerythrin of marine invertebrates and named the msHemerycin.
The full-length hemerythrin cDNA of Lugworm was contained 1027-bp, including a 5’-untranslated region (UTR) of 60-bp, a 3′-UTR of 595-bp, and an open reading frame of 372-bp encoding 123 amino acids including the msHemerycin at the N-terminus. Tissue distribution of the msHemerycin mRNA suggests that it is constitutively expressed as a non-tissue-specific manner, however, a relatively higher expression level was observed in muscle (6.8-fold) and brain (6.3-fold), and the lowest level in digestive gland. The secondary structural prediction and homology modeling studies indicate that the msHemerycin might form an unordered structure and might act via unconventional mechanism. Our results suggest that the msHemerycin might be an innate immune component related to the host defenses in the Lugworm. This is the first report on the antimicrobial function of the peptide derived from the N-terminus of hemerythrin in the Lugworm, Marphysa sanguinea.