Amphibian skin secretions are unique sources of bioactive molecules, particularly bioactive peptides. In this study, the skin secretion of the white-lipped tree frog (Litoria infrafrenata) was obtained to identify peptides with putative therapeutic potential. By utilizing skin secretion-derived mRNA, a cDNA library was constructed, a frenatin gene was cloned and its encoded peptides were deduced and confirmed using RP-HPLC, MALDI-TOF and MS/MS. The deduced peptides were identified as frenatin 4.1 (GFLEKLKTGAKDFASAFVNSIKGT) and a post-translationally modified peptide, frenatin 4.2 (GFLEKLKTGAKDFASAFVNSIK.NH2). Antimicrobial activity of the peptides was assessed by determining their minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) using standard model microorganisms. Through studying structure–activity relationships, analogues of the two peptides were designed, resulting in synthesis of frenatin 4.1a (GFLEKLKKGAKDFASALVNSIKGT) and frenatin 4.2a (GFLLKLKLGAKLFASAFVNSIK.NH2). Both analogues exhibited improved antimicrobial activities, especially frenatin 4.2a, which displayed significant enhancement of broad spectrum antimicrobial efficiency. The peptide modifications applied in this study, may provide new ideas for the generation of leads for the design of antimicrobial peptides with therapeutic applications.
- frog skin secretion; antimicrobial peptide; frenatin; modification; structure activity relationship