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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00302

Conceptual perspectives: Bacterial antimicrobial peptide induction as a novel strategy for symbiosis with the human host

 Santosh K. Ghosh1, Zhimin Feng1, Hisashi Fujioka1,  Renate Lux2,  Thomas S. McCormick1 and  Aaron Weinberg1*
  • 1Case Western Reserve University, United States
  • 2UCLA School of Dentistry, United States

Human beta defensins (hBDs) are small cationic peptides, expressed in mucosal epithelia and important agents of innate immunity, act as antimicrobial and chemotactic agents at mucosal barriers. In this perspective, we present evidence supporting a novel strategy by which the oral bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum induces hBDs and other antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in normal human oral epithelial cells and thereby protects them from other microbial pathogens. The findings stress (1) the physiological importance of hBDs, (2) that this strategy may be a mechanism that contributes to homeostasis and health in body sites constantly challenged with bacteria and (3) that novel properties identified in commensal bacteria could, one day, be harnessed as new probiotic strategies to combat colonization of opportunistic pathogens. With that in mind, we highlight and review the discovery and characterization of a novel lipo-protein, FAD-I (Fusobacterium Associated Defensin Inducer) associated with the outer membrane of F. nucleatum that may act as a homeostatic agent by activating endogenous AMPs to re-equilibrate a dysregulated microenvironment. FAD-I has the potential to reduce dysbiosis-driven diseases at a time when resistance to antibiotics is increasing. We therefore postulate that FAD-I may offer a new paradigm in immunoregulatory therapeutics to bolster host innate defense of vulnerable mucosae, while maintaining physiologically responsive states of inflammation.

Keywords: F. nucleatum, P. gingivalis, Symbiosis, Beta-defensin, FAD-I

Received: 08 Dec 2017; Accepted: 09 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Malka Halpern, University of Haifa, Israel

Reviewed by:

Dongbo Sun, Heilongjiang Bayi Agricultural University, China
Ulvi K. Gürsoy, University of Turku, Finland  

Copyright: © 2018 Ghosh, Feng, Fujioka, Lux, McCormick and Weinberg. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Aaron Weinberg, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, United States,