Characterization of the antimicrobial peptide attacin loci from Glossina morsitans

J. Wang, C. Hu, Y. Wu, A. Stuart, C. Amemiya, M. Berriman, A. Toyoda, Masahira Hattori, S. Aksoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The antimicrobial peptide Attacin is an immune effector molecule that can inhibit the growth of gram-negative bacteria. In Glossina morsitans morsitans, which serves as the sole vectors of African trypanosomes, Attacins also play a role in trypanosome resistance, and in maintaining parasite numbers at homeostatic levels in infected individuals. We characterized the attacin encoding loci from a Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) library. The attacin genes are organized into three clusters. Cluster 1 contains two attacin (attA) genes located in head-to-head orientation, cluster 2 contains two closely related genes (attA and attB) located in a similar transcriptional orientation, and cluster 3 contains a single attacin gene (attD). Coding and transcription regulatory sequences of attA and attB are nearly identical, but differ significantly from attD. Putative AttA and AttB have signal peptide sequences, but lack the pro domain typically present in insect Attacins. Putative AttD lacks both domains. Analysis of attacin cDNA sequences shows polymorphisms that could arise either from allelic variations or from the presence of additional attacin genomic loci. Real time-PCR analysis reveals that attA and attB expression is induced in the fat body of flies per os challenged with Escherichia coli and parasitized with trypanosomes. In the midgut, expression of these attacins is similarly induced following microbial challenge, but reduced in response to parasite infections. Transcription of AttD is significantly less relative to the other two genes, and is preferentially induced in the fat body of parasitized flies. These results indicate that the different attacin genes may be differentially regulated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-302
Number of pages10
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Attacin expression
  • Attacin loci
  • Glossina morsitans morsitans
  • Trypanosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry


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