D-alanine in the frog skin peptide dermorphin is derived from L-alanine in the precursor

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Science  09 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4824, pp. 200-202
DOI: 10.1126/science.3659910


A D-alanine-containing peptide termed dermorphin, with potent opiate-like activity, has been isolated from skin of the frog Phyllomedusa sauvagei. Complementary DNA (cDNA) libraries were constructed from frog skin messenger RNA and screened with a mixture of oligonucleotides that contained the codons complementary to five amino acids of dermorphin. Clones were detected with inserts coding for different dermorphin precursors. The predicted amino acid sequences of these precursors contained homologous repeats of 35 amino acids that included one copy of the heptapeptide dermorphin. In these cloned cDNAs, the alanine codon GCG occurred at the position where D-alanine is present in the end product. This suggests the existence of a novel post-translational reaction for the conversion of an L-amino acid to its D-isomer.