Antibiotic proteins of human polymorphonuclear leukocytes
Nine polypeptide peaks with antibiotic activity were resolved from human polymorphonuclear leukocyte azurophil granule membranes. All but 1 of the 12 constituent polypeptides were identified by N-terminal sequence analysis. Near quantitative recovery of protein and activity permitted an assessment of the contribution of each species to the overall respiratory-burst-independent antimicrobial capacity of the cell. Three uncharacterized polypeptides were discovered, including two broad-spectrum antibiotics. One of these, a defensin that we have designated human neutrophil antimicrobial peptide 4, was more potent than previously described defensins but represented less than 1% of the total protein. The other, named azurocidin, was abundant and comparable to bactericidal permeability-increasing factor in its contribution to the killing of Escherichia coli.