Evidence from peptidomic analysis of skin secretions that allopatric populations ofXenopus gilli(Anura:Pipidae) constitute distinct lineages

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Endangered Cape Platanna Xenopus gilli inhabits disjunct ranges at the tip of Cape Peninsula and near the town of Kleinmond on opposite sides of False Bay in the extreme southwest of Africa. Peptidomic analysis of host-defense peptides in norepinephrine-stimulated skin secretions from frogs from the Cape Peninsula range resulted in the identification of two magainins, two peptide glycine–leucine–amide (PGLa) peptides, two xenopsin-precursor fragment (XPF) peptides, nine caerulein-precursor fragment (CPF) peptides, and a peptide related to peptide glycine–glutamine (PGQ) previously found in an extract of Xenopus laevis stomach. The primary structures of the peptides indicate a close phylogenetic relationship between X. gilli and X. laevis but only magainin-1, PGLa and one CPF peptide are identical in both species. Consistent with previous data, the CPF peptides show the greatest antimicrobial potency but are hemolytic. There are appreciable differences in the expression of host-defense peptide genes in frogs from the population of animals sampled near Kleinmond as peptides corresponding to magainin-G2, XPF-G1, XPF-G2, and four CPF peptides, present in secretions from the Cape Peninsula frogs, were not identified in the skin secretions from Kleinmond frogs. Conversely, PGLa-G3, XPF-G3, and three CPF peptides were identified in the Kleinmond frogs but not in the Cape Peninsula animals. The data support the conclusion from morphometric analyses and comparisons of the nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial genes that the disjunct populations of X. gilli have undergone appreciable genetic, morphological, and phenotypic divergence.

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