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Highly Accessed Open Badges Protein family review

The peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs)

Roman Dziarski* and Dipika Gupta

Author Affiliations

Indiana University School of Medicine-Northwest, Gary, IN 46408, USA

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Genome Biology 2006, 7:232  doi:10.1186/gb-2006-7-8-232

Published: 23 August 2006


Peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs) are innate immunity molecules present in insects, mollusks, echinoderms, and vertebrates, but not in nematodes or plants. PGRPs have at least one carboxy-terminal PGRP domain (approximately 165 amino acids long), which is homologous to bacteriophage and bacterial type 2 amidases. Insects have up to 19 PGRPs, classified into short (S) and long (L) forms. The short forms are present in the hemolymph, cuticle, and fat-body cells, and sometimes in epidermal cells in the gut and hemocytes, whereas the long forms are mainly expressed in hemocytes. The expression of insect PGRPs is often upregulated by exposure to bacteria. Insect PGRPs activate the Toll or immune deficiency (Imd) signal transduction pathways or induce proteolytic cascades that generate antimicrobial products, induce phagocytosis, hydrolyze peptidoglycan, and protect insects against infections. Mammals have four PGRPs, which are secreted; it is not clear whether any are directly orthologous to the insect PGRPs. One mammalian PGRP, PGLYRP-2, is an N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidase that hydrolyzes bacterial peptidoglycan and reduces its proinflammatory activity; PGLYRP-2 is secreted from the liver into the blood and is also induced by bacteria in epithelial cells. The three remaining mammalian PGRPs are bactericidal proteins that are secreted as disulfide-linked homo- and hetero-dimers. PGLYRP-1 is expressed primarily in polymorphonuclear leukocyte granules and PGLYRP-3 and PGLYRP-4 are expressed in the skin, eyes, salivary glands, throat, tongue, esophagus, stomach, and intestine. These three proteins kill bacteria by interacting with cell wall peptidoglycan, rather than permeabilizing bacterial membranes as other antibacterial peptides do. Direct bactericidal activity of these PGRPs either evolved in the vertebrate (or mammalian) lineage or is yet to be discovered in insects.