Article

Skin glands, poison and mimicry in dendrobatid and leptodactylid amphibians.

Laboratório de Biologia Celular, Instituto Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil.
Journal of Morphology (Impact Factor: 1.6). 03/2012; 273(3):279-90. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.11021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In amphibians, secretions of toxins from specialized skin poison glands play a central role in defense against predators. The production of toxic secretions is often associated with conspicuous color patterns that warn potential predators, as it is the case of many dendrobatid frogs, including Ameerega picta. This species resembles the presumably nontoxic Leptodactylus lineatus. This study tests for mimicry by studying the morphology and distribution of skin glands, components of skin secretion, and defensive behavior. Dorsal skin was studied histologically and histochemically, and skin secretions were submitted to sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography and assays for proteolytic activity. We found that poison glands in A. picta are filled with nonprotein granules that are rich in carbohydrates, while L. lineatus glands present protein granules. Accordingly, great amounts of proteins, at least some of them enzymes, were found in the poison of L. lineatus but not in that of A. picta. Both species differ greatly on profiles of gland distribution: In L. lineatus, poison glands are organized in clusters whose position coincides with colored elements of the dorsum. These regions are evidenced through a set of displays, suggesting that poison location is announced to predators through skin colors. In contrast, A. picta presents lower densities of glands, distributed homogeneously. This simpler profile suggests a rather qualitative than quantitative investment in chemical defense, in agreement with the high toxicity attributed to dendrobatids in general. Our data suggest that both species are toxic or unpalatable and transmit common warning signals to predators, which represents a case of Müllerian mimicry.

3 Bookmarks
 · 
201 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The presence of peptides has been identified in all African pipid genera; nevertheless, little is known about skin secretion of South American frog genus Pipa. Skin secretion from captive and wild Pipa carvalhoi were obtained in the presence or absence of norepinephrine stimulation. The <10kDa fraction was analyzed by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, searching for peptides. Chromatographic profiles show the presence of a major component in this secretion, regardless of the stimulation method (norepinephrine or mechanical stimulation) and the origin of the animal (captivity or wild), as well as in the absence of any stimulus. The general mass distribution profile in P. carvalhoi skin secretion shows numerous components below 800Da. Moreover, no peptide could be identified, regardless of the chromatographic approach. The major component was purified and identified as kynurenic acid, an l-tryptophan derivative. P. carvalhoi does not secrete peptides as toxins in its skin. In addition, we here report that kynurenic acid is the main component of P. carvalhoi skin secretion. Although no biological activity was associated with kynurenic acid, we propose that this molecule is a pheromone that signals the presence of a co-specific in the shady environment in which this animal lives. In this study we demonstrate the absence of peptidic toxins in the skin secretion of P. carvalhoi, a break of paradigm in the pipid family.
    Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Toxicology & pharmacology : CBP. 08/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: Rabies is a fatal zoonotic neglected disease that occurs in more than 150 countries, and kills more than 55.000 people every year. It is caused by an enveloped single stranded RNA virus that affects the central nervous system, through an infection initiated by the muscular nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, according to many authors. Alkaloids, such as acetylcholine, are widespread molecules in nature. They are present in numerous biological fluids, including the skin secretion of many amphibians, in which they act (together with proteins, peptides and steroids) as protection agents against predators and/or microorganisms. Among those amphibians that are rich in alkaloids, there is the genus Rhinella. Methods: Bufotenine was isolated from Rhinela jimi skin secretion after a liquid-liquid partition (H 2 O:CH 2 Cl 2) and reversed phase high-performance liquid chromatography analyses (RP-HPLC). Bufotenine was also extracted from seeds of Anadenanthera colubrina in acetone solution and purified by RP-HPLC, as well. Structural characterization was performed by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses. Cytotoxic tests of bufotenine were performed over baby hamster kidney (BHK-21) cells using MTT test. For the antiviral activity, Rabies virus strain Pasteur vaccine (PV) was used on fluorescence inhibition test and fluorescent foci inhibition test, with both simultaneous and time course treatment of the cells with the virus and bufotenine. Results: In the present work we describe the effects of bufotenine, obtained either from toads or plants, that can inhibit the penetration of rabies virus in mammalian cells through an apparent competitive mechanism by the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Moreover, this inhibition was dose-and time-dependent, pointing out to a specific mechanism of action. Conclusions: This work do not present or propose bufotenine as a drug for the treatment of rabies due to the hallucinogen and psychotropic effects of the molecule. However, continued studies in the elucidation of the antiviral mechanism of this molecule, may lead to the choice or development of a tryptamine analogue presenting potential clinical use.
    Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases 10/2014; 20(45). · 0.55 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Polytypism in aposematic species is unlikely according to theory, but commonly seen in nature. Ranitomeya imitator is a poison frog species exhibiting polytypic mimicry of three congeneric model species (R. fantastica, R. summersi, and two morphs of R. variabilis) across four allopatric populations (a "mimetic radiation"). In order to investigate chemical defenses in this system, a key prediction of Müllerian mimicry, we analyzed the alkaloids of both models and mimics from four allopatric populations. In this study we demonstrate distinct differences in alkaloid profiles between co-mimetic species within allopatric populations. We further demonstrate that R. imitator has a greater number of distinct alkaloid types than the model species and more total alkaloids in all but one population. Given that R. imitator is the more abundant species in these populations, R. imitator is likely driving the majority of predator-learned avoidance in these complexes. The success of Ranitomeya imitator as a putative advergent mimic may be a direct result of differences in alkaloid sequestration. Furthermore, we propose that automimicry within co-mimetic species is an important avenue of research.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 01/2014; 14(1):76. · 3.29 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
201 Downloads
Available from
Jun 4, 2014