Mammals generate a diverse array of antimicrobial proteins, largely represented by defensins or cathelicidins. The direct in vitro microbicidal activity of antimicrobial proteins has long been considered an important innate immune defense, although the in vivo relevance has only very recently been established for certain defensins and cathelicidins. Mammalian defensins and cathelicidins have also been shown to have multiple receptor-mediated effects on immune cells. Beta-defensins interact with CCR6; murine β-defensin-2 in addition activates TLR4. Cathelicidins act on FPRL1-expressing cells. Furthermore, several defensins have considerable immunoenhancing activity. Thus, it appears that mammalian antimicrobial proteins contribute to both innate and adaptive antimicrobial immunity.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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