The skins of frogs of the genus Rana synthesize a complex array of antimicrobial peptides that may be grouped into eight families on the basis of structural similarity. A total of 24 peptides with differential growth- inhibitory activity towards the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli and the yeast Candida albicans were isolated from extracts of the skins of three closely related North American frogs, Rana luteiventris (spotted frog), Rana berlandieri (Rio Grande leopard frog) and Rana pipiens (Northern leopard frog). Structural characterization of the antimicrobial peptides demonstrated that they belonged to four of the known families: the brevinin-1 family, first identified in skin of the Asian frog Rana porosa brevipoda; the esculentin-2 family, first identified in the European frog Rana esculenta; the ranatuerin- 2 family, first identified in the North American bullfrog Rana catesbeiana; and the temporin family, first identified in the European frog Rana temporaria. Peptides belonging to the brevinin-2, ranalexin, esculentin-1 and ranatuerin-1 families were not identified in the extracts. Despite the close phylogenetic relationship between the various species of Ranid frogs, the distribution and amino-acid sequences of the antimicrobial peptides produced by each species are highly variable and species-specific, suggesting that they may be valuable in taxonomic classification and molecular phylogenetic analysis.
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