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Kansas State University

Dr. Tonatiuh Melgarejo

This is a photograph of Tonatiuh Melgarejo Dr. Tonatiuh Melgarejo
Associate Professor
Dept of Human Nutrition
143A Justin Hall
Phone: (785) 532-2730



Mentor : Frank Blecha, PhD

    University Distinguished Professor
    Associate Dean for Research, College of Veterinary Medicine
    Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy & Physiology
    Kansas State University


Project Title: Salivary Gland Transcriptome and Peptidome Analysis in Crocuta crocuta

The African Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) exhibits unique wound-healing capabilities and survives on a diet that contains extreme microbial loads, including otherwise lethal pathogens. Its remarkably low susceptibility to infectious diseases may offer novel mechanistic insight into epithelial cell signaling and present molecular templates for the development of novel biotherapeutics. Our long-term goal for this project is to understand how the antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities of hyena host defense peptides (HDPs) can be used to develop novel immunotherapeutics and potent, broad-spectrum natural antibiotics with low resistance. We are pursuing our goal by conducting comparative analysis of the salivary gland transcriptome and peptidome in wild versus captive spotted hyenas exposed to different immunomodulators. Our central hypothesis is that the immunological robustness in the spotted hyena is explained by broad-spectrum antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activity of epithelial-derived HDPs. Our fieldwork supports the notion that infectious disease is exceedingly rare in the spotted hyena, and the specialty literature places a strong emphasis on HDPs as key elements of innate immune defense.