Natural drug discovery represents an area of research with vast potential. The investigation into the use of naturally-occurring peptides as potential therapeutic agents provides a new "chemical space" for the procurement of drug leads. Intensive and systematic studies on the broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptides found in amphibian skin secretions are of particular interest in the quest for new antibiotics to treat multiple drug-resistant bacterial infections. Here we report the molecular cloning of the biosynthetic precursor-encoding cDNAs and respective mature peptides representing a novel group of antimicrobial peptides from the skin secretions of representative species of phyllomedusine leaf frogs: the Central American red-eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis callidryas), the South American orange-legged leaf frog (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis) and the Giant Mexican leaf frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor). Each novel peptide possessed the highly-conserved sequence, LGMIPL/VAISAISA/SLSKLamide, and each exhibited activity against the Gram-positive bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus and the yeast, Candida albicans, but all were devoid of haemolytic effects at concentrations up to and including the MICs for both organisms. The novel peptide group was named medusins, derived from the name of the hylid frog sub-family, Phyllomedusinae, to which all species investigated belong. These data clearly demonstrate that comparative studies of the skin secretions of phyllomedusine frogs can continue to produce novel peptides that have the potential to be leads in the development of new and effective antimicrobials.
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