The house fly, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae), is involved in phoretic movement of pathogenic agents, but it has a very efficient defense mechanism against infection. It is believed that antimicrobial peptides play a significant role in the defense system of the house fly. Here, we isolated a peptide from the immunized house fly pupae, measured its molecular mass (3987.6 Da) by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/ time of flight-mass spectrometry, and determined its amino acid sequence by using the Procise Protein Sequencing System (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA). The peptide was confirmed as a member of the insect defensin family. It displayed high activity against gram-positive bacteria but lower activity against gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed that the house fly defensin gene was constitutively expressed in naive pupae and strongly up-regulated after immunization. House fly defensin is an amphiphilic peptide with a structure similar to that of the CSαβ scaffold of insect defensin A from the flesh fly, Phormia terraenovae Robineau-Desvoidy. To our knowledge, this is the first isolated and characterized house fly antimicrobial peptide, and our work may provide useful information for developing pharmacologically active antimicrobial agents.
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Vol. 47 • No. 6