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Grammistins are peptide toxins synthesised by glands in the skin of soapfishes[1] of the tribes Grammistini and Diploprionini which are both classified within the grouper subfamily Epinephelinae, a part of the family Serranidae.[2] Grammistin has a hemolytic and ichthyotoxic action. The grammistins have secondary structures and biological effects comparable to other classes of peptide toxins, melittin from the bee stings and pardaxins which are secreted in the skin of two sole species.[3] A similar toxin has been found to be secreted in the skin of some clingfishes.[4]

Grammistins have a distinctive bitter taste. Soapfishes increase the amount of toxin released in their skin if they are stressed and other species of fish kept in a confined space with a stressed soapfish normally die. If ingested at a high enough dosage the toxin is lethal to mammals with some symptoms being similar to those produce by ciguatoxins. Grammistins also cause hemolysis of mammalian blood cells. The main purpose of the secretion of grammastin is defensive and when a lionfish (Pterois miles) tries to predate on a soapfish it immediately ejects it from its mouth, suggesting that it had detected the bitter taste.[5] Grammistins affect organisms by cytolysis and hemolysis. As well as being toxic they are also antibiotic and antimicrobial.[1]


  1. ^ a b "UniProtKB - P69836 (GRAG_GRASX)". Uniprot. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  2. ^ J. S. Nelson; T. C. Grande; M. V. H. Wilson (2016). Fishes of the World (5th ed.). Wiley. pp. 446–448. ISBN 978-1-118-34233-6. Archived from the original on 2019-04-08. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  3. ^ K Shiomi; T Igarashi; H Yokota; Y Nagashima; M Ishida (2000). "Isolation and structures of grammistins, peptide toxins from the skin secretion of the soapfish Grammistes sexlineatus". Toxicon. 38 (1): 98–113. doi:10.1016/s0041-0101(99)00136-1. PMID 10669014.
  4. ^ Hori, K.; N. Fusetani; K. Hashimoto; K. Aida; J.E. Randall (1979). "Occurrence of a grammistin-like mucous toxin in the clingfish Diademichthys lineatus". Toxicon. 17 (4): 418–424. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(79)90271-X. PMID 494325.
  5. ^ John E. Randall; Kasumi Aida; Takashi Hibiya; Nobuhiro Mitsuura; Hisao Kamiya & Yoshiri Hishimoto (1971). "Grammistin, the skin toxin of soapfishes, and it significance in the classification of the Grammistidae" (PDF). Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory. XIX (2/3): 157–190.