Cathelicidins are important components of the innate immune system and have been identified in skin and epithelia of a range of mammals. In this study molecular techniques, including RACE-PCR, were used to identify the full cDNA sequence of a cathelicidin gene, MaeuCath8, from the Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. This cathelicidin was not homologous to other such genes previously isolated from a tammar wallaby mammary gland EST library, however, it did contain 4 conserved cysteine residues which characterise the pre-propeptide and had 80% identity with a previously isolated bandicoot cathelicidin. Reverse transcriptase-PCR established the expression profile of MaeuCath8 in a range of tissues, including spleen, thymus, gastrointestinal tract, skin and liver, of the tammar wallaby from birth to adulthood. Expression of MaeuCath8 was observed in spleen and gastrointestinal tract of newborn animals and was observed in most tissues by 7 days post-partum. The results indicate that pouch young could synthesize their own antimicrobial peptides from an early age suggesting that this ability most likely plays a role in protecting the pouch young from infection prior to the development of immunocompetence.
- Antimicrobial peptide
- m-RNA expression