By gel filtration on a Fractogel TSK HW 50 column followed by cation-exchange chromatography on CM-Trisacryl M, a tetradecapeptide amide, designated ‘mastoparan B’, was purified from the venom of the hornet Vespa basalis. Its amino acid sequence was determined as: Leu-Lys-Leu-Lys-Ser-Ile-Val-Ser-Trp-Ala-Lys-Lys-Val-Leu-NH2 and its molecular mass was measured to be 1611 Da by fast-atom-bombardment mass spectrometry. In addition to having a common structure of vespid mastoparans, the peptide shows a less hydrophobic sequence at positions 1, 2, 5, 8 and 9. The peptide caused liberation of histamine from rat peritoneal mast cells and induced oedema in the rat paw. However, the latter effect was inhibited by ‘anti-serotonin’ (anti-5-hydroxytryptamine) (cyproheptadine), but not by antihistamine (chlorpheniramine). The peptide also possesses a potent haemolytic activity which acts in synergy with the lethal protein of the venom, suggesting the possible involvement of mastoparan B in the lethal effect of Vespa basalis venom.

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