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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.