Host defence peptide LEAP2 contributes to antimicrobial activity in a mustache toad (Leptobrachium liui)

BMC Vet Res. 2023 Feb 11;19(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12917-023-03606-3.


Background: The liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP2) is essential in host immunity against harmful pathogens and is only known to act as an extracellular modulator to regulate embryonic development in amphibians. However, there is a dearth of information on the antimicrobial function of amphibian LEAP2. Hence, a LEAP2 homologue from Leptobrachium liui was identified, characterized, and chemically synthesized, and its antibacterial activities and mechanisms were determined.

Results: In this study, LEAP2 gene (Ll-LEAP2) cDNA was cloned and sequenced from the Chong'an Moustache Toad (Leptobrachium liui). The predicted amino acid sequence of Ll-LEAP2 comprises a signal peptide, a mature peptide, and a prodomain. From sequence analysis, it was revealed that Ll-LEAP2 belongs to the cluster of amphibian LEAP2 and displays high similarity to the Tropical Clawed Frog (Xenopus tropicalis)'s LEAP2. Our study revealed that LEAP2 protein was found in different tissues, with the highest concentration in the kidney and liver of L. liui; and Ll-LEAP2 mRNA transcripts were expressed in various tissues with the kidney having the highest mRNA expression level. As a result of Aeromonas hydrophila infection, Ll-LEAP2 underwent a noticeable up-regulation in the skin while it was down-regulated in the intestines. The chemically synthesized Ll-LEAP2 mature peptide was selective in its antimicrobial activity against several in vitro bacteria including both gram-positive and negative bacteria. Additionally, Ll-LEAP2 can kill specific bacteria by disrupting bacterial membrane and hydrolyzing bacterial gDNA.

Conclusions: This study is the first report on the antibacterial activity and mechanism of amphibian LEAP2. With more to uncover, the immunomodulatory functions and wound-healing activities of Ll-LEAP2 holds great potential for future research.

Keywords: Aantibacterial activity; Aantibacterial mechanism; Amphibian; Ggene expression; Lliver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / chemistry
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / genetics
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides* / pharmacology
  • Base Sequence
  • RNA, Messenger


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • RNA, Messenger