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J Biol Chem. 1985 Feb 10;260(3):1437-44.

Bombolitins, a new class of mast cell degranulating peptides from the venom of the bumblebee Megabombus pennsylvanicus.


Five structurally related heptadecapeptides rich in hydrophobic amino acids have been discovered in the venom of the bumblebee Megabombus pennsylvanicus. We have named them bombolitin I (Ile-Lys-Ile-Thr-Thr-Met-Leu-Ala-Lys-Leu-Gly-Lys-Val-Leu-Ala-His-Val-NH2 ), bombolitin II (Ser-Lys-Ile-Thr-Asp-Ile-Leu-Ala-Lys-Leu-Gly-Lys-Val-Leu-Ala-His-Val-NH2 ), bombolitin III (Ile-Lys-Ile-Met-Asp-Ile-Leu-Ala-Lys-Leu-Gly-Lys-Val-Leu-Ala-His-Val-NH2 ), bombolitin IV (Ile-Asn-Ile-Lys-Asp-Ile-Leu-Ala-Lys-Leu-Val-Lys-Val-Leu-Gly-His-Val-NH2 ), and bombolitin V (Ile-Asn-Val-Leu-Gly-Ile-Leu-Gly-Leu-Leu-Gly-Lys-Ala-Leu-Ser-His-Leu-NH2 ). Bombolitins are structurally and functionally very similar. They lyse erythrocytes and liposomes, release histamine from rat peritoneal mast cells, and stimulate phospholipase A2 from different sources. The threshold dose is 0.5-2.5 micrograms/ml depending on the peptide and the bioassay. Bombolitin V is as potent as the well-known melittin in lysing guinea pig erythrocytes (ED50 = 0.7 microgram/ml = 4 X 10(-7) M) and is 5 times more potent than mastoparan in causing mast cell degranulation, making it one of the most potent degranulating peptides discovered so far (ED50 = 2 micrograms/ml = 1.2 X 10(-6) M). The bombolitins represent a unique structural class of peptides but they have the same biological properties as melittin (from honeybees), mastoparan (wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets), and crabrolin (European hornets). This unusual circumstance (peptides with different amino acid sequences having the same biological properties) may be a manifestion of their amphiphilic nature, a property these peptides have in common.

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