Anionic antimicrobial and anticancer peptides from plants

Saurabh Prabhu, Sarah R. Dennison, Bob Lea, Timothy J. Snape, Iain D. Nicholl, Iza Radecka, Frederick Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Anionic antimicrobial peptides (AAMPs) have been identified in a wide variety of plant species with net charges that range between −1 and −7 and structures that include: extended conformations, α-helical architecture and cysteine stabilized scaffolds. These peptides commonly exist as multiple isoforms within a given plant and have a range of biological activities including the ability to kill cancer cells as well as phytopathogenic bacteria, fungi, pests, molluscs, and other predatory species. In general, the killing mechanisms underpinning these activities are poorly understood although they appear to involve attack on intracellular targets such as DNA along with compromise of cell envelope integrity through lysis of the cell wall via chitin-binding and/or permeabilisation of the plasma membrane via lipid interaction. It is now becoming clear that AAMPs participate in the innate immune response of plants and make a major contribution to the arsenal of defence toxins produced by these organisms to compensate for their lack of some defence mechanisms possessed by mammals, such as mobility and a somatic adaptive immune system. Based on their biological properties, a number of potential uses for plant AAMPs have been suggested, including therapeutically useful anticancer agents and novel antimicrobial compounds, which could be utilized in a variety of scenarios, ranging from the protection of crops to the disinfection of hospital environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-320
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Reviews in Plant Sciences
Issue number5
Early online date29 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2013


  • anionic antimicrobial peptides
  • anionic anticancer peptides
  • extended conformations
  • α-helical conformations
  • cysteine motifs
  • PR-proteins
  • defensins
  • thionins
  • Cn-AMP2
  • Cr-ACP1
  • heveins
  • vicilins
  • cyclotides
  • Solanum melongena
  • Capsicum annuum
  • Vitis spp
  • Nicotiania tabacum
  • Cocos nucifera
  • Cyas revolute
  • Hevea brasiliensis
  • Macadamia integrifolia
  • Theobroma caca
  • Rubiaceae
  • Violaceae
  • Cucurbitaceae
  • Fabaceae and Apocynaceae

Cite this