Rollins-Smith LA, Woodhams DC, Reinert LK, Vredenburg VT, Briggs CJ, Nielsen PF, Conlon JM. Antimicrobial peptide defenses of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa). Developmental and comparative immunology. 30(30). 831-42. PMID: 16330099 [PubMed]
The mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) inhabits high elevation lakes in California that are largely undisturbed by human activities. In spite of this habitation in remote sites, populations continue to decline. Although predation by non-native fish is one cause for declines, some isolated populations in fishless lakes are suffering new declines. One possible cause of the current wave of declines is the introduction of the pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) which invades the adult skin to cause chytridiomycosis. In many amphibian species, the skin is protected by antimicrobial peptides secreted into the mucous. Here we show that R. muscosa produces three previously unknown antimicrobial peptides belonging to the ranatuerin-2 and temporin-1 families of antimicrobial peptides. These three peptides, along with bradykinin, are the most abundant peptides in the skin secretions detected by mass spectrometry. Natural mixtures of peptides and individual purified peptides strongly inhibit chytrid growth. The concentration of total peptides recovered from the skin of frogs following a mild norepinephrine induction is sufficient to inhibit chytrid growth in vitro. A comparison of the species susceptibility to chytridiomycosis and the antichytrid activity of peptides between R. muscosa and R. pipiens suggest that although R. muscosa produces more total skin peptides, it appears to be more vulnerable to B. dendrobatidis in nature. Possible differences in the antimicrobial peptide repertoires and life history traits of the two species that may account for differences in susceptibility are discussed.