Screening and Functional Analyses of Novel Cecropins from Insect Transcriptome

Lizhen Guo, Min Tang, Shiqi Luo*, Xin Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antibiotic resistance is a significant and growing threat to global public health. However, antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have shown promise as they exhibit a broad spectrum of antibacterial activities with low potential for resistance development. Insects, which inhabit a wide range of environments and are incredibly diverse, remain largely unexplored as a source of novel AMPs. To address this, we conducted a screening of the representative transcriptomes from the 1000 Insect Transcriptome Evolution (1KITE) dataset, focusing on the homologous reference genes of Cecropins, the first identified AMPs in insects known for its high efficiency. Our analysis identified 108 Cecropin genes from 105 insect transcriptomes, covering all major hexapod lineages. We validated the gene sequences and synthesized mature peptides for three identified Cecropin genes. Through minimal inhibition concentration and agar diffusion assays, we confirmed that these peptides exhibited antimicrobial activities against Gram-negative bacteria. Similar to the known Cecropin, the three Cecropins adopted an alpha-helical conformation in membrane-like environments, efficiently disrupting bacterial membranes through permeabilization. Importantly, none of the three Cecropins demonstrated cytotoxicity in erythrocyte hemolysis tests, suggesting their safety in real-world applications. Overall, this newly developed methodology provides a high-throughput bioinformatic pipeline for the discovery of AMP, taking advantage of the expanding genomic resources available for diverse organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number794
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • 1KITE
  • Cecropin
  • antimicrobial peptide
  • genomics
  • insect
  • transcriptomics


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