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Defensins: Evolution

  1. Austin L Hughes

Published Online: 14 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0006136.pub2



How to Cite

Hughes, A. L. 2008. Defensins: Evolution. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2008


The α and β defensins are short, cationic peptides that are used in the antibacterial defences of mammals. The α- and β-defensin gene families have diversified as a result of recent gene duplications in several lineages of mammals, and there is evidence that positive Darwinian selection has had a role in their diversification.


  • defensin;
  • gene duplication;
  • immune system;
  • innate defences;
  • positive Darwinian selection