Little is known about the innate defense mechanisms of the male reproductive tract. We cloned a 385-base pair complementary DNA and its genomic DNA named Bin1b that is exclusively expressed in the caput region of the rat epididymis and that is responsible for sperm maturation, storage, and protection. Bin1b exhibits structural characteristics and antimicrobial activity similar to that of cationic antimicrobial peptides, β-defensins. Bin1b is maximally expressed when the rats are sexually mature and can be up-regulated by inflammation. Bin1b appears to be a natural epididymis-specific antimicrobial peptide that plays a role in reproductive tract host defense and male fertility.
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