Antimicrobial peptides from the skins of North American frogs

J. Michael Conlon, Jolanta Kolodziejek, Norbert Nowotny

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


North America is home to anuran species belonging to the families Bufonidae, Eleutherodactylidae, Hylidae, Leiopelmatidae, Ranidae, and Scaphiopodidae but antimicrobial peptides have been identified only in skin secretions and/or skin extracts of frogs belonging to the Leiopelmatidae ("tailed frogs") and Ranidae ("true frogs"). Eight structurally-related cationic α-helical peptides with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity, termed ascaphins, have been isolated from specimens of Ascaphus truei (Leiopelmatidae) occupying a coastal range. Characterization of orthologous antimicrobial peptides from Ascaphus specimens occupying an inland range supports the proposal that this population should be regarded as a separate species A. montanus. Ascaphin-8 shows potential for development into a therapeutically valuable anti-infective agent. Peptides belonging to the brevinin-1, esculentin-1, esculentin-2, palustrin-1, palustrin-2, ranacyclin, ranatuerin-1, ranatuerin-2, and temporin families have been isolated from North American ranids. It is proposed that "ranalexins" represent brevinin-1 peptides that have undergone a four amino acid residue internal deletion. Current taxonomic recommendations divide North American frogs from the family Ranidae into two genera: Lithobates and Rana. Cladistic analysis based upon the amino acid sequences of the brevinin-1 peptides provides strong support for this assignment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1556-1563
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2009


  • Antimicrobial peptide
  • Frog skin
  • Leiopelmatidae
  • Phylogeny
  • Ranidae


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