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Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are small-molecule peptides that play crucial roles in insect innate immune responses. To better understand the function of AMPs in Plutella xylostella, one of the main pests of cruciferous vegetables, three full-length cDNAs encoding moricins were cloned from Pl. xylostella. Two variants of the moricin named PxMor2 and PxMor3 were heterologously expressed and purified. A secondary structure analysis using circular dichroism demonstrated that the two peptides adopted an α-helical structure in the membrane-like environment, but in aqueous solution, they were present in random coiled conformation. Antimicrobial activity assays demonstrated that PxMor2 exhibited high activity against Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-negative Escherichia coli; however, PxMor3 only demonstrated high activity against E. coli. Scanning electron microscopy and confocal laser-scanning microscopy analyses suggest that PxMors can lead to the disruption of bacterial membrane, which might be the mechanism by which PxMors inhibit bacterial growth. This study contributes to the understanding of Pl. xylostella AMPs and immune responses, and also enriches the knowledge of insect moricin. © 2017 The Royal Entomological Society.


X-F Xia, Y Li, X-Q Yu, J-H Lin, S-Y Li, Q Li, M-S You. Cloning and functional identification of moricins from the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.). Insect molecular biology. 2017 Oct;26(5):564-573

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PMID: 28621439

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