Comparative Antimicrobial Activity of Granulysin against Bacterial Biothreat Agents

Janice J Endsleya, c, *, Alfredo G Torresa, b, c, Christine M Gonzalesa, Valeri G Kosykhb, Vladimir L Motina, b, c, Johnny W Petersona, c, D. Mark Estesa, c, Gary R Klimpela, c
Department of Microbiology and Immunologya , University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA
Department of Pathologyb , University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA
Sealy Center for Vaccine Developmentc , University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA

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© Endsley et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0436, USA; Tel: (409) 772-3142; Fax: (409) 747-6869; E-mail:


Granulysin is a cationic protein produced by human T cells and natural killer cells that can kill bacterial pathogens through disruption of microbial membrane integrity. Herein we demonstrate antimicrobial activity of the granulysin peptide derived from the active site against Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, and Burkholderia mallei, and show pathogen-specific differences in granulysin peptide effects. The susceptibility of Y. pestis to granulysin is temperature dependent, being less susceptible when grown at the flea arthropod vector temperature (26°C) than when grown at human body temperature. These studies suggest that augmentation of granulysin expression by cytotoxic lymphocytes, or therapeutic application of granulysin peptides, could constitute important strategies for protection against select agent bacterial pathogens. Investigations of the microbial surface molecules that determine susceptibility to granulysin may identify important mechanisms that contribute to pathogenesis.

Keywords: Granulysin, antimicrobial, B. anthracis, B. mallei, Y. pestis, F. tularensis..