Antimicrobial peptides and proteins form an important means of innate host defense in eukaryotes. They have a broad ability to kill microbes. Large antimicrobial proteins (>100 amino acids) are often lytic enzymes, nutrient-binding proteins or contain sites that target specific microbial macromolecules. Small antimicrobial peptides affect the structure and/or function of microbial cell membranes. A multitude of antimicrobial peptides has been found in epithelial layers, phagocytes and body fluids of multicellular animals including man. Beside their role as endogenous antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides are involved in cytokine release, chemotaxis, angiogenesis, wound repair, and regulation of the adaptive immune system.
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