Amphibian skin is a morphologically, biochemically and physiologically complex organ that performs the wide range of functions necessary for amphibian survival. Here we describe the primary structures of representatives of two novel classes of amphibian skin antimicrobials, dermatoxin and phylloxin, from the skin secretion of Phyllomedusa sauvagei, deduced from their respective precursor encoding cDNAs cloned from a lyophilized skin secretion library. A degenerate primer, designed to a highly conserved domain in the 5'-untranslated region of analogous peptide precursor cDNAs from Phyllomedusa bicolor, was employed in a 3'-RACE reaction. Peptides with molecular masses coincident with precursor-deduced mature toxin peptides were identified in LC/MS fractions of skin secretion and primary structures were confirmed by MS/MS fragmentation. This integrated experimental approach can thus rapidly expedite the primary structural characterization of amphibian skin peptides in a manner that circumvents specimen sacrifice whilst preserving robustness of scientific data.
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