Discovery ofAnas platyrhynchosavian β-defensin 2 (Apl_AvBD2) with antibacterial and chemotactic functions

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The cationic, cysteine-rich peptides called β-defensins play a major role in the innate immune response. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of the duck β-defensin-2 homologue, Anas platyrhynchos avian β-defensin 2 (Apl_AvBD2). The 195 base pair open reading frame (ORF) of Apl_AvBD2 has 83% identity with Gga_AvBD2 (chicken) and 85% identity with Mga_AvBD2 (turkey) at nucleotide level. The gene corresponding to the coding region is comprised of three exons and two introns in both Apl_AvBD2 and Gga_AvBD2. The predicted secondary structure of Apl_AvBD2 has the classical “β-defensin core motif” formed by the β-sheet rich structure. Apart from mild expression in tissues like kidney, lung, brain, bursa of Fabricious and ovary, Apl_AvBD2 mRNA show a very high level constitutive expression in bone marrow and spleen, indicating that it is a myeloid defensin. Purified recombinant Apl_AvBD2 demonstrated in vitro antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, with a minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) of 3.7 μM against Micrococcus luteus NCIM 2871 and Escherichia coli NCIM 2685, and of 2.2 μM against Reimerella anatipestifer. The immunomodulatory potential of Apl_AvBD2 was shown by chemotaxis of DT-40 chicken B-lymphocytes. The widespread tissue distribution and the potent bactericidal and chemotactic activity make Apl_AvBD2 an important molecule in the innate immune response in ducks. It may play a vital role in the immune response of these birds against bacterial and viral pathogens.

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