For the first time the antimicrobial activities of hemocyanins from the molluscs Rapana
venosa (RvH) and Helix aspersa (HaH) have been tested. From the hemolymph of the garden snail H.
aspersa one structural subunit (βc-HaH ) and eight functional units (FUs, βc-HaH-a to βc-HaH-h)
were isolated, and their N-terminal sequences and molecular weights, ranging between 45 and 65 kDa, determined. The
antimicrobial test of the hemocyanins against different bacteria showed that only two FUs from Rapana, RvH1-b and
RvH1-e, exhibit a low inhibition effect against Staphylococcus aureus. In contrast and surprisingly, the structural subunit
βc-HaH of H. aspersa not only shows strong antimicrobial activities against S. aureus and the likewise Gram-positive
Streptococcus epidermidis, but also against the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli. We suggest that this subunit
therefore has the potential to become a substitute for the commonly used antibiotics against which bacterial resistance has
gradually been developed.
Keywords: Antibacterial activity, hemocyanins, Helix aspersa (HaH), Rapana venosa (RvH), Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Escherichia coli.
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