Dermorphin is a hepta-peptide first isolated from the skin of South American frogs belonging to the genus Phyllomedusa. The peptide is a natural opiate that binds as an agonist with high potency and selectivity to mu Opioid receptors. Dermorphin is about 30-40 times more potent than morphine but less likely to produce drug tolerance and addiction.
Dermorphin is not found in humans or other mammals and similar D-amino acid peptides have only been found in bacteria, amphibians and molluscs. Dermorphin appears to be made in these through an unusual posttranslational modification carried out by an amino acid isomerase. The reason why such an unusual process is needed is because the D-alanine in this peptide is not among the 20 in the genetic code and cannot be encoded in the genes by higher organisms.
- Structure of dermorphin: H-Tyr-D-Ala-Phe-Gly-Tyr-Pro-Ser-NH2
- Chemical formula: C40H50N8O10
- Molecular weight: 802.9 g/mol
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