Molecular cloning of skin peptide precursor-encoding cDNAs from tibial gland secretion of the Giant Monkey Frog,Phyllomedusa bicolor(Hylidae, Anura)

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The skins of phyllomedusine frogs have long been considered as being tremendously rich sources of bioactive peptides. Previous studies of both peptides and cloning of their precursor encoding cDNAs have relied upon methanolic skin extracts or the dissected skins of recently deceased specimens and have not considered the different glands in isolation. We therefore focused our attention on the tibial gland of the Giant Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor and constructed a cDNA library from the skin secretion that was obtained via mechanical stimulation of this macrogland. Using shotgun cloning, four precursors encoding host-defense peptides were identified: two archetypal dermaseptins, a phyllokinin and a phylloseptin that is new for this species but has been recently described from the Waxy Monkey Leaf Frog, Phyllomedusa sauvagii. Our study is the first to report defensive peptides specifically isolated from anuran tibial glands, confirming the hypothesis that these glands also contribute to chemical defense. Moreover, the discovery of novel compounds for this otherwise very well characterized species suggests that this largely neglected gland might possess a different cocktail of secretions from glands elsewhere in the same animal. We will also discuss some evolutionary implications of our findings with respect to the adaptive plasticity of secretory glands.

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