Interactions of histatin-3 and histatin-5 with actin

Edna Blotnick, Asaf Sol, Gilad Bachrach, Andras Muhlrad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Histatins are histidine rich polypeptides produced in the parotid and submandibular gland and secreted into the saliva. Histatin-3 and -5 are the most important polycationic histatins. They possess antimicrobial activity against fungi such as Candida albicans. Histatin-5 has a higher antifungal activity than histatin-3 while histatin-3 is mostly involved in wound healing in the oral cavity. We found that these histatins, like other polycationic peptides and proteins, such as LL-37, lysozyme and histones, interact with extracellular actin. Results: Histatin-3 and -5 polymerize globular actin (G-actin) to filamentous actin (F-actin) and bundle F-actin filaments. Both actin polymerization and bundling by histatins is pH sensitive due to the high histidine content of histatins. In spite of the equal number of net positive charges and histidine residues in histatin-3 and -5, less histatin-3 is needed than histatin-5 for polymerization and bundling of actin. The efficiency of actin polymerization and bundling by histatins greatly increases with decreasing pH. Histatin-3 and -5 induced actin bundles are dissociated by 100 and 50 mM NaCl, respectively. The relatively low NaCl concentration required to dissociate histatin-induced bundles implies that the actin-histatin filaments bind to each other mainly by electrostatic forces. The binding of histatin-3 to F-actin is stronger than that of histatin-5 showing that hydrophobic forces have also some role in histatin-3- actin interaction. Histatins affect the fluorescence of probes attached to the D-loop of G-actin indicating histatin induced changes in actin structure. Transglutaminase cross-links histatins to actin. Competition and limited proteolysis experiments indicate that the main histatin cross-linking site on actin is glutamine-49 on the D-loop of actin. Conclusions: Both histatin-3 and -5 interacts with actin, however, histatin 3 binds stronger to actin and affects actin structure at lower concentration than histatin-5 due to the extra 8 amino acid sequence at the C-terminus of histatin-3. Extracellular actin might regulate histatin activity in the oral cavity, which should be the subject of further investigation.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3
JournalBMC Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Actin polymerization and bundling
  • F-actin
  • G-actin
  • Histatin-3
  • Histatin-5
  • Transglutaminase cross-linking


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