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L Marenah, PR Flatt, DF Orr, S McClean, C Shaw, and YH Abdel-Wahab

Few studies have comprehensively examined amphibian granular gland secretions for novel insulinotropic peptides. This study involved isolation and characterisation of biologically active peptides from the skin secretions of Rana palustris frogs. Crude secretions obtained by mild electrical stimulation from the dorsal skin surface were purified by reversed-phase HPLC on a semipreparative Vydac C18 column, yielding 80 fractions. These fractions were assayed for insulin-releasing activity using glucose-responsive BRIN-BD11 cells. Acute 20 min incubations were performed in Krebs Ringer bicarbonate buffer supplemented with 5.6 mmol/l glucose in the absence (control) and presence of various fractions. Fractions 29-54 and fractions 68-75 showed significant 2.0-6.5-fold increases in insulin-releasing activity (P<0.001). The fractions showing most prominent insulinotropic activity were further purified to single homogeneous peaks, which, on testing, evoked 1.5-2.8-fold increases in insulin release (P<0.001). The structures of the purified peptides were determined by mass spectrometry and N-terminal amino acid sequencing. Electrospray ionisation ion-trap mass spectrometry analysis revealed molecular masses of 2873.5-8560.4 Da. Sufficient material was isolated to determine the primary amino acid sequence of the 2873.5 Da peptide, revealing a 27 amino acid sequence, ALSILRGLEKLAKMGIALTNCKATKKC, repressing palustrin-1c. The database search for this peptide showed a 48% homology with brevinin-1, an antimicrobial peptide isolated from various Rana species, which itself stimulated insulin release from BRIN-BD11 cells in a concentration-dependent manner. In conclusion, the skin secretions of R. palustris frogs contain a novel class of peptides with insulin-releasing activity that merit further investigation.

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L Marenah, P R Flatt, D F Orr, C Shaw, and Y H A Abdel-Wahab

Skin secretions of Rana saharica were evaluated for the isolation and characterisation of novel insulinotropic peptides. Crude secretions obtained from young adult frogs by mild electrical stimulation of the dorsal skin surface were purified by reverse phase HPLC yielding 80 fractions. In acute 20-min incubations with glucose responsive BRIN-BD11 cells, fractions 36–43, 46–54 and 57–63 significantly stimulated insulin release by 2- to 8-fold compared with 5.6 mM glucose alone. Pooled fractions in the latter two bands were rechromatographed to reveal 9 homogenous peaks, which elicited significant 1.3- to 3.5-fold increases in insulin release (P < 0.05). Structural analysis of the most potent non-toxic peptides was performed by mass spectrometry and automated Edman degradation. This revealed four major insulin-releasing peaks with molecular masses of 2676.9 Da, 3519.3 Da, 4920.4 Da and 4801.2 Da respectively. These peptides were found to be identical to brevinin-1E, brevinin-2EC, esculentin-1 and esculentin-1B, which belong to the group of antimicrobial peptides isolated from skin secretions of various Rana frog species. Preliminary studies on the mechanism underlying the insulinotropic actions of esculentins-1 and -1B suggested possible involvement of both cyclic AMP–protein kinase A and –C-dependent G-protein sensitive pathways. These data indicate that the skin secretions of Rana saharica frogs contain bioactive molecules with significant insulin-releasing activity. Relatives of the brevinin/esculentin peptide family merit further investigation as novel insulin secretagogues.

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J M A Hannan, L Marenah, L Ali, B Rokeya, P R Flatt, and Y H A Abdel-Wahab

Ocimum sanctum leaves have previously been reported to reduce blood glucose when administered to rats and humans with diabetes. In the present study, the effects of ethanol extract and five partition fractions of O. sanctum leaves were studied on insulin secretion together with an evaluation of their mechanisms of action. The ethanol extract and each of the aqueous, butanol and ethylacetate fractions stimulated insulin secretion from perfused rat pancreas, isolated rat islets and a clonal rat β-cell line in a concentration-dependent manner. The stimulatory effects of ethanol extract and each of these partition fractions were potentiated by glucose, isobutylmethylxanthine, tolbutamide and a depolarizing concentration of KCl. Inhibition of the secretory effect was observed with diazoxide, verapamil and Ca2+ removal. In contrast, the stimulatory effects of the chloroform and hexane partition fractions were associated with decreased cell viability and were unaltered by diazoxide and verapamil. The ethanol extract and the five fractions increased intracellular Ca2+ in clonal BRIN-BD11 cells, being partly attenuated by the addition of verapamil. These findings indicated that constituents of O. sanctum leaf extracts have stimulatory effects on physiological pathways of insulin secretion which may underlie its reported antidiabetic action.