In an early branching metazoan, bacterial colonization of the embryo is controlled by maternal antimicrobial peptides.: "Publication Date: 2010 Oct 4 PMID: 20921390
Authors: Fraune, S. - Augustin, R. - Anton-Erxleben, F. - Wittlieb, J. - Gelhaus, C. - Klimovich, V. B. - Samoilovich, M. P. - Bosch, T. C.
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Early embryos of many organisms develop outside the mother and are immediately confronted with myriads of potential colonizers. How these naive developmental stages control and shape the bacterial colonization is largely unknown. Here we show that early embryonic stages of the basal metazoan Hydra are able to control bacterial colonization by using maternal antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial peptides of the periculin family selecting for a specific bacterial colonization during embryogenesis are produced in the oocyte and in early embryos. If overexpressed in hydra ectodermal epithelial cells, periculin1a drastically reduces the bacterial load, indicating potent antimicrobial activity. Unexpectedly, transgenic polyps also revealed that periculin, in addition to bactericidal activity, changes the structure of the bacterial community. These findings delineate a role for antimicrobial peptides both in selecting particular bacterial partners during development and as important components of a 'be prepared' strategy providing transgenerational protection.