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Dual function of a bee (Apis cerana) inhibitor cysteine knot peptide that acts as an antifungal peptide and insecticidal venom toxin.  Park HG, Kyung SS, Lee KS, Kim BY, Choi YS, Yoon HJ, Kwon HW, Je YH, Jin BR., Dev. Comp. Immunol., 2014, 47, 247-53.

Inhibitor cysteine knot (ICK) peptides exhibit ion channel blocking, insecticidal, and antimicrobial activities, but currently, no functional roles for bee-derived ICK peptides have been identified. In this study, a bee (Apis cerana) ICK peptide (AcICK) that acts as an antifungal peptide and as an insecticidal venom toxin was identified. AcICK contains an ICK fold that is expressed in the epidermis, fat body, or venom gland and is present as a 6.6-kDa peptide in bee venom. Recombinant AcICK peptide (expressed in baculovirus-infected insect cells) bound directly to Beauveria bassiana and Fusarium graminearum, but not to Escherichia coli or Bacillus thuringiensis. Consistent with these findings, AcICK showed antifungal activity, indicating that AcICK acts as an antifungal peptide. Furthermore, AcICK expression is induced in the fat body and epidermis after injection with B. bassiana. These results provide insight into the role of AcICK during the innate immune response following fungal infection. Additionally, we show that AcICK has insecticidal activity. Our results demonstrate a functional role for AcICK in bees: AcICK acts as an antifungal peptide in innate immune reactions in the body and as an insecticidal toxin in venom. The finding that the AcICK peptide functions with different mechanisms of action in the body and in venom highlights the two-pronged strategy that is possible with the bee ICK peptide.

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