Deltorphins: A Family of Naturally Occurring Peptides with High Affinity and Selectivity for δ Opioid Binding Sites
Deltorphins are endogenous linear heptapeptides, isolated from skin extracts of frogs belonging to the genus Phyllomedusa, that have a higher affinity and selectivity for delta opioid binding sites than any other natural compound known. Two deltorphins with the sequence Tyr-Ala-Phe-Asp(or Glu)-Val-Val-Gly-NH2 have been isolated from skin extracts of Phyllomedusa bicolor. The alanine in position 2 is in the D configuration. These peptides, [D-Ala2]deltorphins I and II, show an even higher affinity for delta receptors than the previously characterized deltorphin, which contains D-methionine as the second amino acid. These peptides show some similarity to another constituent of Phyllomedusa skin, dermorphin, which is highly selective for mu-opioid receptors. These peptides all have the N-terminal sequence Tyr-D-Xaa-Phe, where D-Xaa is either D-alanine or D-methionine. While this structure seems to be capable of activating both mu and delta opioid receptors, differences in the C-terminal regions of these peptides are probably responsible for the observed high receptor selectivity of dermorphin and deltorphin.