Among the hymenopteran insect venoms, those from social wasps and bees - such as honeybee, hornets and paper wasps - have been well documented. Their venoms are composed of a number of peptides and proteins and used for defending their nests and themselves from predators. In contrast, the venoms of solitary wasps and bees have not been the object of further research. In case of solitary bees, only major peptide components in a few venoms have been addressed. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore the peptide component profile of the venom from the solitary bee Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans by peptidomic analysis with using LC-MS.
A reverse-phase HPLC connected to ESI-OrbiTrap MS was used for LC-MS. On-line mass fingerprinting was made from TIC, and data-dependent tandem mass spectrometry gave MSMS spectra. A major peptide component was isolated by reverse-phase HPLC by conventional way, and its sequence was determined by Edman degradation, which was finally corroborated by solid phase synthesis. Using the synthetic specimen, biological activities (antimicrobial activity, mast cell devaluation, hemolysis, leishmanicidal activity) and pore formation in artificial lipid bilayer were evaluated.
On-line mass fingerprinting revealed that the crude venom contained 124 components. MS/MS analysis gave 75 full sequences of the peptide components. Most of these are related to the major and novel peptide, xylopin. Its sequence, GFVALLKKLPLILKHLH-NH2, has characteristic features of linear cationic α-helical peptides; rich in hydrophobic and basic amino acids with no disulfide bond, and accordingly, it can be predicted to adopt an amphipathic α-helix secondary structure. In biological evaluation, xylopin exhibited broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and moderate mast cell degranulation and leishmanicidal activities, but showed virtually no hemolytic activity. Additionally, the peptide was able to incorporate pores in artificial lipid bilayers of azolectin, confirming the mechanism of the cytolytic activity by pore formation in biological membranes.
LC-ESI-MS and MS/MS analysis of the crude venom extract from a solitary bee Xylocopa appendiculata circumvolans revealed that the component profile of this venom mostly consisted of small peptides. The major peptide components, xylopin and xylopinin, were purified and characterized in a conventional manner. Their chemical and biological characteristics, belonging to linear cationic α-helical peptides, are similar to the known solitary bee venom peptides, melectin and osmin. Pore formation in artificial lipid bilayers was demonstrated for the first time with a solitary bee peptide.