(1/617) LEAP-1, a novel highly disulfide-bonded human peptide, exhibits antimicrobial activity.

We report the isolation and characterization of a novel human peptide with antimicrobial activity, termed LEAP-1 (liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide). Using a mass spectrometric assay detecting cysteine-rich peptides, a 25-residue peptide containing four disulfide bonds was identified in human blood ultrafiltrate. LEAP-1 expression was predominantly detected in the liver, and, to a much lower extent, in the heart. In radial diffusion assays, Gram-positive Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus subtilis, Micrococcus luteus, Staphylococcus carnosus, and Gram-negative Neisseria cinerea as well as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae dose-dependently exhibited sensitivity upon treatment with synthetic LEAP-1. The discovery of LEAP-1 extends the known families of mammalian peptides with antimicrobial activity by its novel disulfide motif and distinct expression pattern.  (+info)

(2/617) Hepcidin, a urinary antimicrobial peptide synthesized in the liver.

Cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides are abundant in animal and plant tissues involved in host defense. In insects, most are synthesized in the fat body, an organ analogous to the liver of vertebrates. From human urine, we characterized a cysteine-rich peptide with three forms differing by amino-terminal truncation, and we named it hepcidin (Hepc) because of its origin in the liver and its antimicrobial properties. Two predominant forms, Hepc20 and Hepc25, contained 20 and 25 amino acid residues with all 8 cysteines connected by intramolecular disulfide bonds. Reverse translation and search of the data bases found homologous liver cDNAs in species from fish to human and a corresponding human genomic sequence on human chromosome 19. The full cDNA by 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends was 0.4 kilobase pair, in agreement with hepcidin mRNA size on Northern blots. The liver was the predominant site of mRNA expression. The encoded prepropeptide contains 84 amino acids, but only the 20-25-amino acid processed forms were found in urine. Hepcidins exhibited antifungal activity against Candida albicans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger and antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and group B Streptococcus. Hepcidin may be a vertebrate counterpart of cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides produced in the fat body of insects.  (+info)

(3/617) A new mouse liver-specific gene, encoding a protein homologous to human antimicrobial peptide hepcidin, is overexpressed during iron overload.

Considering that the development of hepatic lesions related to iron overload diseases might be a result of abnormally expressed hepatic genes, we searched for new genes up-regulated under the condition of iron excess. By suppressive subtractive hybridization performed between livers from carbonyl iron-overloaded and control mice, we isolated a 225-base pair cDNA. By Northern blot analysis, the corresponding mRNA was confirmed to be overexpressed in livers of experimentally (carbonyl iron and iron-dextran-treated mice) and spontaneously (beta(2)-microglobulin knockout mice) iron-overloaded mice. In addition, beta(2)-microglobulin knockout mice fed with a low iron content diet exhibited a decrease of hepatic mRNA expression. The murine full-length cDNA was isolated and was found to encode an 83-amino acid protein presenting a strong homology in its C-terminal region to the human antimicrobial peptide hepcidin. In addition, we cloned the corresponding rat and human orthologue cDNAs. Both mouse and human genes named HEPC are constituted of 3 exons and 2 introns and are located on chromosome 7 and 19, respectively, in close proximity to USF2 gene. In mouse and human, HEPC mRNA was predominantly expressed in the liver. During both in vivo and in vitro studies, HEPC mRNA expression was enhanced in mouse hepatocytes under the effect of lipopolysaccharide. Finally, to analyze the intracellular localization of the predicted protein, we used the green fluorescent protein chimera expression vectors. The murine green fluorescent protein-prohepcidin protein was exclusively localized in the nucleus. When the putative nuclear localization signal was deleted, the resulting protein was addressed to the cytoplasm. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that the product of the new liver-specific gene HEPC might play a specific role during iron overload and exhibit additional functions distinct from its antimicrobial activity.  (+info)

(4/617) Lack of hepcidin gene expression and severe tissue iron overload in upstream stimulatory factor 2 (USF2) knockout mice.

We previously reported the disruption of the murine gene encoding the transcription factor USF2 and its consequences on glucose-dependent gene regulation in the liver. We report here a peculiar phenotype of Usf2(-/-) mice that progressively develop multivisceral iron overload; plasma iron overcomes transferrin binding capacity, and nontransferrin-bound iron accumulates in various tissues including pancreas and heart. In contrast, the splenic iron content is strikingly lower in knockout animals than in controls. To identify genes that may account for the abnormalities of iron homeostasis in Usf2(-/-) mice, we used suppressive subtractive hybridization between livers from Usf2(-/-) and wild-type mice. We isolated a cDNA encoding a peptide, hepcidin (also referred to as LEAP-1, for liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide), that was very recently purified from human blood ultrafiltrate and from urine as a disulfide-bonded peptide exhibiting antimicrobial activity. Accumulation of iron in the liver has been recently reported to up-regulate hepcidin expression, whereas our data clearly show that a complete defect in hepcidin expression is responsible for progressive tissue iron overload. The striking similarity of the alterations in iron metabolism between HFE knockout mice, a murine model of hereditary hemochromatosis, and the Usf2(-/-) hepcidin-deficient mice suggests that hepcidin may function in the same regulatory pathway as HFE. We propose that hepcidin acts as a signaling molecule that is required in conjunction with HFE to regulate both intestinal iron absorption and iron storage in macrophages.  (+info)

(5/617) Absence of hepcidin gene mutations in 10 Italian patients with primary iron overload.

We analyzed the hepcidin gene in 10 Italian patients with hemochromatosis not related to C282Y, H63D or other less frequent HFE mutations, nor to Y250X in TFR2. The sequencing of the whole hepcidin coding region, intron-exon junctions, 5' and partially 3'UTRs, did not reveal any alteration in the studied patients.  (+info)

(6/617) Severe iron deficiency anemia in transgenic mice expressing liver hepcidin.

We recently reported the hemochromatosis-like phenotype observed in our Usf2 knockout mice. In these mice, as in murine models of hemochromatosis and patients with hereditary hemochromatosis, iron accumulates in parenchymal cells (in particular, liver and pancreas), whereas the reticuloendothelial system is spared from this iron loading. We suggested that this phenotypic trait could be attributed to the absence, in the Usf2 knockout mice, of a secreted liver-specific peptide, hepcidin. We conjectured that the reverse situation, namely overexpression of hepcidin, might result in phenotypic traits of iron deficiency. This question was addressed by generating transgenic mice expressing hepcidin under the control of the liver-specific transthyretin promoter. We found that the majority of the transgenic mice were born with a pale skin and died within a few hours after birth. These transgenic animals had decreased body iron levels and presented severe microcytic hypochromic anemia. So far, three mosaic transgenic animals have survived. They were unequivocally identified by physical features, including reduced body size, pallor, hairless and crumpled skin. These pleiotropic effects were found to be associated with erythrocyte abnormalities, with marked anisocytosis, poikylocytosis and hypochromia, which are features characteristic of iron-deficiency anemia. These results strongly support the proposed role of hepcidin as a putative iron-regulatory hormone. The animal models devoid of hepcidin (the Usf2 knockout mice) or overexpressing the peptide (the transgenic mice presented in this paper) represent valuable tools for investigating iron homeostasis in vivo and for deciphering the molecular mechanisms of hepcidin action.  (+info)

(7/617) Bass hepcidin is a novel antimicrobial peptide induced by bacterial challenge.

We report the isolation of a novel antimicrobial peptide, bass hepcidin, from the gill of hybrid striped bass, white bass (Morone chrysops) x striped bass (M. saxatilis). After the intraperitoneal injection of Micrococcus luteus and Escherichia coli, the peptide was purified from HPLC fractions with antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli. Sequencing by Edman degradation revealed a 21-residue peptide (GCRFCCNCCPNMSGCGVCCRF) with eight putative cysteines. Molecular mass measurements of the native peptide and the reduced and alkylated peptide confirmed the sequence with four intramolecular disulfide bridges. Peptide sequence homology to human hepcidin and other predicted hepcidins, indicated that the peptide is a new member of the hepcidin family. Nucleotide sequences for cDNA and genomic DNA were determined for white bass. A predicted prepropeptide (85 amino acids) consists of three domains: a signal peptide (24 amino acids), prodomain (40 amino acids) and a mature peptide (21 amino acids). The gene has two introns and three exons. A TATA box and several consensus-binding motifs for transcription factors including C/EBP, nuclear factor-kappaB, and hepatocyte nuclear factor were found in the region upstream of the transcriptional start site. In white bass liver, hepcidin gene expression was induced 4500-fold following challenge with the fish pathogen, Streptococcus iniae, while expression levels remained low in all other tissues tested. A novel antimicrobial peptide from the gill, bass hepcidin, is predominantly expressed in the liver and highly inducible by bacterial exposure.  (+info)

(8/617) The solution structure of human hepcidin, a peptide hormone with antimicrobial activity that is involved in iron uptake and hereditary hemochromatosis.

The antibacterial and antifungal peptide hepcidin (LEAP-1) is expressed in the liver. This circulating peptide has recently been found to also act as a signaling molecule in iron metabolism. As such, it plays an important role in hereditary hemochromatosis, a serious iron overload disease. In this study, we report the solution structures of the hepcidin-20 and -25 amino acid peptides determined by standard two-dimensional (1)H NMR spectroscopy. These small cysteine-rich peptides form a distorted beta-sheet with an unusual vicinal disulfide bridge found at the turn of the hairpin, which is probably of functional significance. Both peptides exhibit an overall amphipathic structure with six of the eight Cys involved in maintaining interstrand connectivity. Hepcidin-25 assumes major and minor conformations centered about the Pro residue near the N-terminal end. Further NMR diffusion studies indicate that hepcidin-20 exists as a monomer in solution, whereas hepcidin-25 readily aggregates, a property that may contribute to the different activities of the two peptides. The nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectroscopy spectra of the hepcidin-25 aggregates indicate an interface for peptide interactions that again involves the first five residues from the N-terminal end.  (+info)