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Discovery of Novel Antimicrobial Peptides from Komodo Dragon using Mass Spectrometry

Journal of Proteome Research, 2017

Komodo dragons are the largest living lizards and are the apex predators in their environs. They endure numerous strains of pathogenic bacteria in their saliva and recover from wounds inflicted by other dragons, reflecting the inherent robustness of their innate immune defense. We have employed a custom bioprospecting approach combining partial de novo peptide sequencing with transcriptome assembly to identify cationic antimicrobial peptides from Komodo dragon plasma. Through these analyses, we identified 48 novel potential cationic antimicrobial peptides. All but one of the identified peptides were derived from histone proteins. The antimicrobial effectiveness of eight of these peptides was evaluated against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 9027) and Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 25923), with seven peptides exhibiting antimicrobial activity against both microbes and one only showing significant potency against P. aeruginosa. This study demonstrates the power and promise of our bioprospecting approach to cationic antimicrobial peptide discovery, and it reveals the presence of a plethora of novel histone-derived antimicrobial peptides in the plasma of the Komodo dragon. These findings may have broader implications regarding the role that intact histones and histone-derived peptides play in defending the host from infection. Data are available via ProteomeXChange with identifier PXD005043.

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