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Drosophila antibacterial protein, cecropin A, differentially affects non-bacterial organisms such as Leishmania in a manner different from other amphipathic peptides.

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The effects of the antibacterial protein Drosophila cecropin A on developmental forms of Leishmania were compared with the effect of Hyalophora cecropin A in vitro. Both cecropins had a potent lytic activity on the promastigotes at concentrations not far from those occurring in vivo in the respective insect. Drosophila cecropin A had strong differential effects on the two maturation forms of Leishmania aethiopica at high concentrations: inhibiting intracellular amastigotes and stimulating extracellular promastigotes to take up thymidine. Hyalophora cecropin A also inhibited amastigotes by up to 50% at concentrations of 0.250 mg/ml, and inhibited promastigotes at high concentrations but had no enhancing effects at any of the concentrations tested. In contrast to the results with Leishmania, Drosophila cecropin A had no discernible effect on any developmental stage of P. falciparium and showed no lytic effects on haemocytes. The two enantiomers of a synthetic amphipathic peptide, D- and L-KALA, were also tested. D- and L-KALA had some in vitro antimalarial effects at 0.025 and 0.05 mg/ml respectively but both forms were haemolytic at 0.1 mg/ml. Potential uses of naturally occurring proteins and their derivatives in the control of insect born infections and topical use of cecropins against leishmaniasis are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Microbiology and Tumor Biology Centre, Karolinska Institute, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden.

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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  • The International Journal of Molecular Medicine is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the publication of high quality studies related to the molecular mechanisms of human disease. The journal welcomes research on all aspects of molecular and clinical research, ranging from biochemistry to immunology, pathology, genetics, human genomics, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis, molecular cardiology, molecular surgery and molecular psychology.

    The International Journal of Molecular Medicine aims to provide an insight for researchers within the community in regard to developing molecular tools and identifying molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of a diverse number of human diseases.
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