Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Charles H. Bigger

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Alejandro Barbieri

Third Advisor's Name

John Makemson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Laurie Richardson

Fifth Advisor's Name

Sylvia L. Smith


Antibacterial peptides, shark, elasmobranch, antimicrobial, lysozyme, muramidase, histone, ubiquitin, leukocytes, microdilution

Date of Defense



In many vertebrate and invertebrate species mediators of innate immunity include antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) such as peptide fragments of histones and other proteins with previously ascribed different functions. Shark AMPs have not been described and this research examines the antibacterial activity of nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) peripheral blood leukocyte lysates. Screening of lysates prepared by homogenizing unstimulated peripheral blood leukocytes identified muramidase (lysozyme-like) and non-muramidase antibacterial activity. Lysates were tested for lysozyme using the lysoplate assays, and antibacterial (AB) activity was assayed for by a microdilution growth assay that was developed using Planococcus citreus as the target bacterium. Fractionation of crude lysates by ion exchange and affinity chromatography was followed by a combination of SDS-PAGE with LC/MS-MS and/or N-terminal sequence analysis of low molecular weight protein bands (kDa). This yielded several peptides with amino acid sequence similarity to lysozyme, ubiquitin, hemoglobin, human histones H2A, H2B and H4 and to antibacterial histone fragments of the catfish and the Asian toad. Not all peptide sequences corresponded to peptides potentially antibacterial. The correlation of a specific protein band in active lysate fractions was accomplished by employing the acid-urea gel overlay assays in which AB activity was seen as zones of growth inhibition on a lawn of P. citreus at a position corresponding to that of the putative AB protein band. This study is the first to describe putative AMPs in the shark and their potential role in innate immunity.





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