Defensins are a family of host defence peptides that play an important role in the innate immunity of mammalian and avian species. In humans, four beta-defensins have been isolated so far, corresponding to the products of the genes DEFB1 (h-BD1, GenBank accession number NM_005218); DEFB4 (h-Bd2, NM_004942.2), DEFB103 (h-BD3, NM_018661); and DEFB104 (hBD4, NM_080389) mapping on chromosome 8p23.22. We have localized beta-defensin genes on metaphasic chromosomes of great apes and several non-human primate species to determine their physical mapping. Using fluorescent in situ hybridization and BAC probes containing the four beta-defensin genes, we have mapped the homologous regions to the beta-defensin genes on chromosome 8p23-p.22 in non-human primates, while no signals were detected on prosimians chromosomes.
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