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Molecules and Mechanisms Underlying the Antimicrobial Activity of Escapin, an l-Amino Acid Oxidase from the Ink of Sea Hares

Charles D Derby, Eric S Gilbert, Phang C Tai
Biological Bulletin 2018, 235 (1): 52-61
Many marine animals use chemicals to defend themselves and their eggs from predators. Beyond their ecologically relevant functions, these chemicals may also have properties that make them beneficial for humans, including biomedical and industrial applications. For example, some chemical defenses are also powerful antimicrobial or antitumor agents with relevance to human health and disease. One such chemical defense, escapin, an l-amino acid oxidase in the defensive ink of the sea hare Aplysia californica, and related proteins have been investigated for their biomedical properties. This review details our current understanding of escapin's antimicrobial activity, including the array of molecules generated by escapin's oxidation of its major substrates, l-lysine and l-arginine, and mechanisms underlying these molecules' bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects on planktonic cells and the prevention of formation and removal of bacterial biofilms. Models of escapin's effects are presented, and future directions are proposed.


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