HD6 Defensin Nanonets

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  27 Jul 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6093, pp. 420-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225906

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


The lining of the mammalian small intestine—the epithelium—is the main organ for nutrient absorption and also prevents gut microbes from crossing the gut wall and establishing systemic infections. Although humans benefit from interactions with resident gut microbes (1, 2), mechanisms exist to maintain a balance between supporting gastrointestinal microbiota and ensuring the integrity of the gastrointestinal epithelial barrier. For example, peptides called α-defensins influence the composition of the microbial consortium while also providing immunity against certain mucosal infections (3, 4). On page 477 of this issue, Chu et al. (5) report that human α-defensin (HD) 6 molecules self-assemble to form nanonets that entrap microorganisms and block their translocation across the epithelial barrier.