Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 60, Issue 12, pp 2651–2668 | Cite as

Antimicrobial and cytolytic peptides of venomous arthropods



As a response to invading microorganisms, the innate immune system of arthropods has evolved a complex arrangement of constitutive and inducible antimicrobial peptides that immediately destroy a large variety of pathogens. At the same time, venomous arthropods have developed an additional offensive system in their venom glands to subdue their prey items. In this complex venom system, several enzymes, low-molecular-mass compounds, neurotoxins, antimicrobial and cytolytic peptides interact together, resulting in extremely rapid immobilization and/or killing of prey or aggressors. This review provides an overview of antimicrobial peptides identified in the hemolymph of venomous arthropods, and especially of cytolytic peptides in their venom. For these peptides a dual role is proposed: acting as antimicrobials as well as increasing the potency of the venom by influencing excitable cells.

Antimicrobial peptides cytolytic peptides venom arthropods synergism 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser-Verlag Basel 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoological InstituteUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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