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Keywords:

  • antibiotic peptides;
  • male sex pheromone;
  • neuropeptide;
  • splendipherin

The skin secretions of female and male Litoria splendida have been monitored monthly over a three-year period using HPLC and electrospray mass spectrometry. Two minor peptides are present only in the skin secretion of the male. The first of these is the female-attracting aquatic male sex pheromone that we have named splendipherin, a 25 amino acid peptide (GLVSSIGKALGGLLADVVKSKGQPA-OH). This pheromone constitutes about 1% of the total skin peptides during the breeding season (January to March), dropping to about 0.1% during the period June to November. Splendipherin attracts the female in water at a concentration of 10−11–10−9 m, and is species specific. The second peptide is a wide-spectrum antibiotic of the caerin 1 group, a 25 residue peptide (GLLSVLGSVAKHVLPHVVPVIAEKL-NH2) named caerin 1.10. The neuropeptides of L. splendida are also seasonally variable, the change identical for both the female and male. During the period October to March, the sole neuropeptide present in skin secretions is caerulein [pEQDY(SO3)TGWMDF-NH2]; this is active on smooth muscle and is also an analgaesic. During the southern winter (June to September), more than half of the caerulein is hydrolysed to [pEQDYTGWMDF-NH2], a peptide that shows no smooth muscle activity. In place of caerulein, a new peptide, Phe8 caerulein [pEQDY(SO3)TGWFDF-NH2], becomes a major component of the skin secretion. Perhaps this seasonal change is involved in thermoregulation, that is, with the initiation and maintenance of the inactive (hibernation) phase of the animal.