Evolution of the beta defensin 2 gene in primates

M. Boniotto, A. Tossi, M. DelPero, S. Sgubin, N. Antcheva, D. Santon, J. Masters, S. Crovella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the aim of further investigating the molecular evolution of beta defensin genes, after having analysed beta defensin 1 (DEFB1) in humans and several nonhuman primate species, we have studied the evolution of the beta defensin 2 gene (DEFB2), which codifies for a peptide with antimicrobial and chemoattractant activity, in humans and 16 primate species. We have found evidence of positive selection during the evolution of orthologous DEFB2 genes at two points on a phylogenetic tree relating these primates: during the divergence of the platyrrhines from the catarrhines and during the divergence of the Cercopithecidae from the Hylobatidae, Great Apes and humans. Furthermore, amino acid variations in Old World Monkeys Seem to centre either on residues that are involved in oligomerisation in the human molecule, or that are conserved (40-80%) In beta-defensins in general. It is thus likely that these variations affect the biological function of the molecules and suggest that their synthesis and functional analysis might reveal interesting new information as to their role in innate immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalGenes and Immunity
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003


  • Amino-acid sequences
  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Beta defensins
  • Innate immunity
  • Nucleotide sequences
  • Primates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Immunology
  • Genetics


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