Synergy and remarkable specificity of antimicrobial peptides in vivo using a systematic knockout approach

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are host-encoded antibiotics that combat invading microorganisms. These short, cationic peptides have been implicated in many biological processes, primarily involving innate immunity. In vitro studies have shown AMPs kill bacteria and fungi at physiological concentrations, but little validation has been done in vivo. We utilized CRISPR gene editing to delete all known immune-inducible AMPs of Drosophila, namely: 4 Attacins, 4 Cecropins, 2 Diptericins, Drosocin, Drosomycin, Metchnikowin and Defensin. Using individual and multiple knockouts, including flies lacking all 14 AMP genes, we characterize the in vivo function of individual and groups of AMPs against diverse bacterial and fungal pathogens. We found that Drosophila AMPs act primarily against Gram-negative bacteria and fungi, contributing either additively or synergistically. We also describe remarkable specificity wherein certain AMPs contribute the bulk of microbicidal activity against specific pathogens, providing functional demonstrations of highly specific AMP-pathogen interactions in an in vivo setting.


Published in:
eLife, 8, e44341, e44341
Year:
2019
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
ISSN:
2050-084X
Other identifiers:
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 Record created 2019-03-26, last modified 2019-06-27

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