A novel and potent trypsin inhibitor peptide, AC-17, from the skin secretion of the edible frog, Rana esculenta

X. Chen, Mei Zhou, Lei Wang, Tianbao Chen, Brian Walker, Christopher Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protease inhibitors are found in many venoms and evidence suggests that they occur widely in amphibian skin secretions. Kunitz inhibitors have been found in the skin secretions of bombinid toads and ranid frogs, Kazal inhibitors in phyllomedusine frogs and Bowman–Birk inhibitors in ranid frogs. Selective protease inhibitors could have important applications as therapeutics in the treatment of diseases in which discrete proteases play an aetiologcal role. Here we have examined the skin secretion of the edible frog, Rana esculenta, for protease inhibitors using trypsin as a model. HPLC fractions of secretions were screened for inhibitory activity using a chromogenic substrate as reporter. Three major peptides were resolved with trypsin inhibitory activity in HPLC fractions — one was a Kunitz-type inhibitor, a second was a Bowman–Birk inhibitor but the third represented a novel class of trypsin inhibitor in European frog skin. Analysis of the peptide established the structure of a 17-mer with an N-terminal Ala (A) residue and a C-terminal Cys (C) residue with a single disulphide bridge between Cys 12 and 17. Peptide AC-17 resembled a typical “Rana box” antimicrobial peptide but while it was active against Escherichia coli (MIC 30 µM) it was devoid of activity against Staphylococcus aureus and of haemolytic activity. In contrast, the peptide was a potent inhibitor of trypsin with a Ki of 5.56 µM. AC-17 represents the prototype of a novel trypsin inhibitor from the skin secretion of a European ranid frog that may target a trypsin-like protease present on the surface of Gram-negative bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-50
Number of pages1
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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