Tammar wallaby mammary cathelicidins are differentially expressed during lactation and exhibit antimicrobial and cell proliferative activity

Stephen Wanyonyi, Julie A. Sharp, Elie Khalil, Christophe Lefevre, Kevin R. Nicholas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Cathelicidins secreted in milk may be central to autocrine feedback in the mammary gland for optimal development in addition to conferring innate immunity to both the mammary gland and the neonate. This study exploits the unique reproductive strategy of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) model to analyse differential splicing of cathelicidin genes and to evaluate the bactericidal activity and effect of the protein on mammary epithelial cell proliferation. Two linear peptides, Con73 and Con218, derived from the heterogeneous carboxyl end of cathelicidin transcripts, MaeuCath1 and MaeuCath7 respectively, were evaluated for antimicrobial activity. Both Con73 and Con218 significantly inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aureginosa, Enterococcus faecalis and Salmonella enterica. In addition both MaeuCath1 and MaeuCath7 stimulated proliferation of primary tammar wallaby mammary epithelial cells (WallMEC). Lactation-phase specific alternate spliced transcripts were determined for MaeuCath1 showing utilisation of both antimicrobial and proliferative functions are required by the mammary gland and the suckled young. The study has shown for the first time that temporal regulation of milk cathelicidins may be crucial in antimicrobial protection of the mammary gland and suckled young and mammary cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial
  • Cathelicidin
  • Cell proliferation
  • Mammary epithelial cells
  • Tammar wallaby

Cite this