Nigrocin-2 peptides from ChineseOdorranafrogs - integration of UPLC/MS/MS with molecular cloning in amphibian skin peptidome analysis

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Peptidomics is a powerful set of tools for the identification, structural elucidation and discovery of novel regulatory peptides and for monitoring the degradation pathways of structurally and catalytically important proteins. Amphibian skin secretions, arising from specialized granular glands, often contain complex peptidomes containing many components of entirely novel structure and unique site-substituted analogues of known peptide families. Following the discovery that the granular gland transcriptome is present in such secretions in a PCR-amenable form, we designed a strategy for peptide structural characterization involving the integration of ‘shotgun’ cloning of cDNAs encoding peptide precursors, deduction of putative bioactive peptide structures, and confirmation of these structures using tandem MS/MS sequencing. Here, we illustrate this strategy by means of elucidation of the primary structures of nigrocin-2 homologues from the defensive skin secretions of four species of Chinese Odorrana frogs, O. schmackeri, O. livida, O. hejiangensis and O. versabilis. Synthetic replicates of the peptides were found to possess antimicrobial activity. Nigrocin-2 peptides occur widely in the skin secretions of Asian ranid frogs and in those of the Odorrana group, and are particularly well-represented and of diverse structure in some species. Integration of the molecular analytical technologies described provides a means for rapid structural characterization of novel peptides from complex natural libraries in the absence of systematic online database information.

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