NMR structure and conformational dynamics of AtPDFL2.1, a defensin-like peptide from Arabidopsis thaliana

Reza Omidvar, Youlin Xia, Fernando Porcelli, Holger Bohlmann, Gianluigi Veglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Plant defensins constitute the innate immune response against pathogens such as fungi and bacteria. Typical plant defensins are small, basic peptides that possess a characteristic three-dimensional fold stabilized by three or four disulfide bridges. In addition to known defensin genes, the Arabidopsis genome comprises > 300 defensin-like genes coding for small cysteine-rich peptides. One of such genes encodes for AtPDFL2.1, a putative antifungal peptide of 55 amino acids, with six cysteine residues in its primary sequence. To understand the functional role of AtPDFL2.1, we carried out antifungal activity assays and determined its high-resolution three-dimensional structure using multidimensional solution NMR spectroscopy. We found that AtPDFL2.1 displays a strong inhibitory effect against Fusarium graminearum (IC50 ≈ 4 μM). This peptide folds in the canonical cysteine-stabilized αβ (CSαβ) motif, consisting of one α-helix and one triple-stranded antiparallel β-sheet stabilized by three disulfide bridges and a hydrophobic cluster of residues within its core where the α-helix packs tightly against the β-sheets. Nuclear spin relaxation measurements show that the structure of AtPDFL2.1 is essentially rigid, with the L3 loop located between β-strands 2 and 3 being more flexible and displaying conformational exchange. Interestingly, the dynamic features of loop L3 are conserved among defensins and are probably correlated to the antifungal and receptor binding activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1739-1747
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Antifungal activity
  • AtPDFL2.1
  • Conformational dynamics
  • Plant defensins
  • Solution NMR
  • Three-dimensional structure


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