Variation in the salivary peptide, maxadilan, from species in the Lutzomyia longipalpis complex

G. C. Lanzaro*, A. H.C.S. Lopes, J. M.C. Ribeiro, C. B. Shoemaker, A. Warburg, M. Scares, R. G. Titus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Maxadilan is an approximately 7 kDa peptide that occurs in the saliva of the sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis. This peptide is a potent vasodilator and may also have immunomodulatory effects related to the pathogenesis of leishmanial infections. Variation in the primary DNA and inferred amino acid sequence of maxadilan is reported. Differences were found within and among natural field populations as well as among sibling species. Extensive amino acid sequence differentiation, up to 23%, was observed among maxadilan from different populations. This is a remarkable degree of polymorphism considering the small size of this peptide. The vasodilatory activity of maxadilan was equivalent among recombinant maxadilan variants. All maxadilan variants induce interleukin-6. Predicted secondary structure and hydrophobicity plots suggest that these characteristics are conserved among variant peptides. However, profiles based on the antigenic index do differ among peptides.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Maxadilan
  • Population genetics
  • Saliva
  • Vasodilator


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