Haemocytes of the horseshoe crab (Limulus) contain a new family of arthropodous peptide antibiotics, termed the tachyplesin family. These cationic peptides are composed of 17-18 amino acid residues with a C-terminal arginine alpha-amide. Tachyplesin I takes on a fairly rigid conformation constrained by two disulphide bridges and adopts a conformation consisting of an antiparallel beta-sheet connected by a beta-turn. Isopeptides of tachyplesin I with amino acid replacements, tachyplesins II and III, and polyphemusins I and II have also been found in the haemocytes of the South-East Asian species and Limulus polyphemus. These peptides are present in abundance in the small granules of the haemocytes and inhibit strongly the growth of not only Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria but also fungi such as Candida albicans. Tachyplesin exists in the prepro form consisting of 77 residues; this precursor is probably processed by intracellular proteases and an amidation enzyme before incorporation into the small granules of the haemocytes. We examined the mode of action of tachyplesin I on biomembranes, comparing it with that of gramicidin S. Tachyplesin caused an efflux of K+ from Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli cells similar to that caused by gramicidin S. Another antimicrobial substance, anti-LPS factor, has been isolated from haemocytes.
|Pages (from-to)||160-174; discussion 174-175|
|Journal||Ciba Foundation symposium|
|Publication status||Published - 1994|
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