ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2017) – How do lethal dart frogs avoid killing themselves? We can explain in 51 seconds.
Found in Colombia, the adult golden poison dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is one of the deadliest amphibians on Earth. Its skin glands are loaded with batrachotoxin (BTX) – enough to kill 20,000 mice or 10 humans.
Earlier this semester, UAlbany biologists Sho-Ya Wang and Ging Kuo Wang tested five naturally occurring amino acids that are found in the frog’s muscles and discovered that one of them, N1584T, is responsible for protecting against the toxin.
The finding suggests that the frog’s immunity comes from just a single genetic mutation. It also may offer an opportunity to advance several targeted drug therapies including local anesthetics, antiarrhythmics and anticonvulants medications.