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Sample records for reptile venom genes

  1. Defensins and the convergent evolution of platypus and reptile venom genes.

    PubMed

    Whittington, Camilla M; Papenfuss, Anthony T; Bansal, Paramjit; Torres, Allan M; Wong, Emily S W; Deakin, Janine E; Graves, Tina; Alsop, Amber; Schatzkamer, Kyriena; Kremitzki, Colin; Ponting, Chris P; Temple-Smith, Peter; Warren, Wesley C; Kuchel, Philip W; Belov, Katherine

    2008-06-01

    When the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) was first discovered, it was thought to be a taxidermist's hoax, as it has a blend of mammalian and reptilian features. It is a most remarkable mammal, not only because it lays eggs but also because it is venomous. Rather than delivering venom through a bite, as do snakes and shrews, male platypuses have venomous spurs on each hind leg. The platypus genome sequence provides a unique opportunity to unravel the evolutionary history of many of these interesting features. While searching the platypus genome for the sequences of antimicrobial defensin genes, we identified three Ornithorhynchus venom defensin-like peptide (OvDLP) genes, which produce the major components of platypus venom. We show that gene duplication and subsequent functional diversification of beta-defensins gave rise to these platypus OvDLPs. The OvDLP genes are located adjacent to the beta-defensins and share similar gene organization and peptide structures. Intriguingly, some species of snakes and lizards also produce venoms containing similar molecules called crotamines and crotamine-like peptides. This led us to trace the evolutionary origins of other components of platypus and reptile venom. Here we show that several venom components have evolved separately in the platypus and reptiles. Convergent evolution has repeatedly selected genes coding for proteins containing specific structural motifs as templates for venom molecules. PMID:18463304

  2. Unmasking venom gland transcriptomes in reptile venoms.

    PubMed

    Chen, Tianbao; Bjourson, Anthony J; Orr, David F; Kwok, HangFai; Rao, Pingfan; Ivanyi, Craig; Shaw, Chris

    2002-12-15

    While structural studies of reptile venom toxins can be achieved using lyophilized venom samples, until now the cloning of precursor cDNAs required sacrifice of the specimen for dissection of the venom glands. Here we describe a simple and rapid technique that unmasks venom protein mRNAs present in lyophilized venom samples. To illustrate the technique we have RT-PCR-amplified a range of venom protein transcripts from cDNA libraries derived from the venoms of a hemotoxic snake, the Chinese copperhead (Deinagkistrodon acutus), a neurotoxic snake, the black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), and a venomous lizard, the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum). These include a metalloproteinase and phospholipase A2 from D. acutus, a potassium channel blocker, dendrotoxin K, from D. polylepis, and exendin-4 from H. suspectum. These findings imply that the apparent absence and/or lability of mRNA in complex biological matrices is not always real and paves the way for accelerated acquisition of molecular genetic data on venom toxins for scientific and potential therapeutic purposes without sacrifice of endangered herpetofauna. PMID:12470674

  3. Testing the Toxicofera: comparative transcriptomics casts doubt on the single, early evolution of the reptile venom system.

    PubMed

    Hargreaves, Adam D; Swain, Martin T; Logan, Darren W; Mulley, John F

    2014-12-15

    The identification of apparently conserved gene complements in the venom and salivary glands of a diverse set of reptiles led to the development of the Toxicofera hypothesis - the single, early evolution of the venom system in reptiles. However, this hypothesis is based largely on relatively small scale EST-based studies of only venom or salivary glands and toxic effects have been assigned to only some putative Toxicoferan toxins in some species. We set out to examine the distribution of these proposed venom toxin transcripts in order to investigate to what extent conservation of gene complements may reflect a bias in previous sampling efforts. Our quantitative transcriptomic analyses of venom and salivary glands and other body tissues in five species of reptile, together with the use of available RNA-Seq datasets for additional species, shows that the majority of genes used to support the establishment and expansion of the Toxicofera are in fact expressed in multiple body tissues and most likely represent general maintenance or "housekeeping" genes. The apparent conservation of gene complements across the Toxicofera therefore reflects an artefact of incomplete tissue sampling. We therefore conclude that venom has evolved multiple times in reptiles. PMID:25449103

  4. Novel venom gene discovery in the platypus

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background To date, few peptides in the complex mixture of platypus venom have been identified and sequenced, in part due to the limited amounts of platypus venom available to study. We have constructed and sequenced a cDNA library from an active platypus venom gland to identify the remaining components. Results We identified 83 novel putative platypus venom genes from 13 toxin families, which are homologous to known toxins from a wide range of vertebrates (fish, reptiles, insectivores) and invertebrates (spiders, sea anemones, starfish). A number of these are expressed in tissues other than the venom gland, and at least three of these families (those with homology to toxins from distant invertebrates) may play non-toxin roles. Thus, further functional testing is required to confirm venom activity. However, the presence of similar putative toxins in such widely divergent species provides further evidence for the hypothesis that there are certain protein families that are selected preferentially during evolution to become venom peptides. We have also used homology with known proteins to speculate on the contributions of each venom component to the symptoms of platypus envenomation. Conclusions This study represents a step towards fully characterizing the first mammal venom transcriptome. We have found similarities between putative platypus toxins and those of a number of unrelated species, providing insight into the evolution of mammalian venom. PMID:20920228

  5. Restriction and Recruitment—Gene Duplication and the Origin and Evolution of Snake Venom Toxins

    PubMed Central

    Hargreaves, Adam D.; Swain, Martin T.; Hegarty, Matthew J.; Logan, Darren W.; Mulley, John F.

    2014-01-01

    Snake venom has been hypothesized to have originated and diversified through a process that involves duplication of genes encoding body proteins with subsequent recruitment of the copy to the venom gland, where natural selection acts to develop or increase toxicity. However, gene duplication is known to be a rare event in vertebrate genomes, and the recruitment of duplicated genes to a novel expression domain (neofunctionalization) is an even rarer process that requires the evolution of novel combinations of transcription factor binding sites in upstream regulatory regions. Therefore, although this hypothesis concerning the evolution of snake venom is very unlikely and should be regarded with caution, it is nonetheless often assumed to be established fact, hindering research into the true origins of snake venom toxins. To critically evaluate this hypothesis, we have generated transcriptomic data for body tissues and salivary and venom glands from five species of venomous and nonvenomous reptiles. Our comparative transcriptomic analysis of these data reveals that snake venom does not evolve through the hypothesized process of duplication and recruitment of genes encoding body proteins. Indeed, our results show that many proposed venom toxins are in fact expressed in a wide variety of body tissues, including the salivary gland of nonvenomous reptiles and that these genes have therefore been restricted to the venom gland following duplication, not recruited. Thus, snake venom evolves through the duplication and subfunctionalization of genes encoding existing salivary proteins. These results highlight the danger of the elegant and intuitive “just-so story” in evolutionary biology. PMID:25079342

  6. Reptile freeze tolerance: metabolism and gene expression.

    PubMed

    Storey, Kenneth B

    2006-02-01

    Terrestrially hibernating reptiles that live in seasonally cold climates need effective strategies of cold hardiness to survive the winter. Use of thermally buffered hibernacula is very important but when exposure to temperatures below 0 degrees C cannot be avoided, either freeze avoidance (supercooling) or freeze tolerance strategies can be employed, sometimes by the same species depending on environmental conditions. Several reptile species display ecologically relevant freeze tolerance, surviving for extended times with 50% or more of their total body water frozen. The use of colligative cryoprotectants by reptiles is poorly developed but metabolic and enzymatic adaptations providing anoxia tolerance and antioxidant defense are important aids to freezing survival. New studies using DNA array screening are examining the role of freeze-responsive gene expression. Three categories of freeze responsive genes have been identified from recent screenings of liver and heart from freeze-exposed (5h post-nucleation at -2.5 degrees C) hatchling painted turtles, Chrysemys picta marginata. These genes encode (a) proteins involved in iron binding, (b) enzymes of antioxidant defense, and (c) serine protease inhibitors. The same genes were up-regulated by anoxia exposure (4 h of N2 gas exposure at 5 degrees C) of the hatchlings which suggests that these defenses for freeze tolerance are aimed at counteracting the injurious effects of the ischemia imposed by plasma freezing. PMID:16321368

  7. Reptiles.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Naturescope, 1987

    1987-01-01

    Describes some of the characteristics of various reptiles. Contains teaching activities including making reptile number books and identification keys, flip-ups about cobras, puzzles involving graphing, and group presentations. Includes reproducible handouts to be used with some of the activities. (TW)

  8. Squeezers and leaf-cutters: differential diversification and degeneration of the venom system in toxicoferan reptiles.

    PubMed

    Fry, Bryan G; Undheim, Eivind A B; Ali, Syed A; Jackson, Timothy N W; Debono, Jordan; Scheib, Holger; Ruder, Tim; Morgenstern, David; Cadwallader, Luke; Whitehead, Darryl; Nabuurs, Rob; van der Weerd, Louise; Vidal, Nicolas; Roelants, Kim; Hendrikx, Iwan; Gonzalez, Sandy Pineda; Koludarov, Ivan; Jones, Alun; King, Glenn F; Antunes, Agostinho; Sunagar, Kartik

    2013-07-01

    Although it has been established that all toxicoferan squamates share a common venomous ancestor, it has remained unclear whether the maxillary and mandibular venom glands are evolving on separate gene expression trajectories or if they remain under shared genetic control. We show that identical transcripts are simultaneously expressed not only in the mandibular and maxillary glands, but also in the enigmatic snake rictal gland. Toxin molecular frameworks recovered in this study were three-finger toxin (3FTx), CRiSP, crotamine (beta-defensin), cobra venom factor, cystatin, epididymal secretory protein, kunitz, L-amino acid oxidase, lectin, renin aspartate protease, veficolin, and vespryn. We also discovered a novel low-molecular weight disulfide bridged peptide class in pythonid snake glands. In the iguanian lizards, the most highly expressed are potentially antimicrobial in nature (crotamine (beta-defensin) and cystatin), with crotamine (beta-defensin) also the most diverse. However, a number of proteins characterized from anguimorph lizards and caenophidian snakes with hemotoxic or neurotoxic activities were recruited in the common toxicoferan ancestor and remain expressed, albeit in low levels, even in the iguanian lizards. In contrast, the henophidian snakes express 3FTx and lectin toxins as the dominant transcripts. Even in the constricting pythonid and boid snakes, where the glands are predominantly mucous-secreting, low-levels of toxin transcripts can be detected. Venom thus appears to play little role in feeding behavior of most iguanian lizards or the powerful constricting snakes, and the low levels of expression argue against a defensive role. However, clearly the incipient or secondarily atrophied venom systems of these taxa may be a source of novel compounds useful in drug design and discovery. PMID:23547263

  9. Squeezers and Leaf-cutters: Differential Diversification and Degeneration of the Venom System in Toxicoferan Reptiles*

    PubMed Central

    Fry, Bryan G.; Undheim, Eivind A.B.; Ali, Syed A.; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Debono, Jordan; Scheib, Holger; Ruder, Tim; Morgenstern, David; Cadwallader, Luke; Whitehead, Darryl; Nabuurs, Rob; van der Weerd, Louise; Vidal, Nicolas; Roelants, Kim; Hendrikx, Iwan; Gonzalez, Sandy Pineda; Koludarov, Ivan; Jones, Alun; King, Glenn F.; Antunes, Agostinho; Sunagar, Kartik

    2013-01-01

    Although it has been established that all toxicoferan squamates share a common venomous ancestor, it has remained unclear whether the maxillary and mandibular venom glands are evolving on separate gene expression trajectories or if they remain under shared genetic control. We show that identical transcripts are simultaneously expressed not only in the mandibular and maxillary glands, but also in the enigmatic snake rictal gland. Toxin molecular frameworks recovered in this study were three-finger toxin (3FTx), CRiSP, crotamine (beta-defensin), cobra venom factor, cystatin, epididymal secretory protein, kunitz, l-amino acid oxidase, lectin, renin aspartate protease, veficolin, and vespryn. We also discovered a novel low-molecular weight disulfide bridged peptide class in pythonid snake glands. In the iguanian lizards, the most highly expressed are potentially antimicrobial in nature (crotamine (beta-defensin) and cystatin), with crotamine (beta-defensin) also the most diverse. However, a number of proteins characterized from anguimorph lizards and caenophidian snakes with hemotoxic or neurotoxic activities were recruited in the common toxicoferan ancestor and remain expressed, albeit in low levels, even in the iguanian lizards. In contrast, the henophidian snakes express 3FTx and lectin toxins as the dominant transcripts. Even in the constricting pythonid and boid snakes, where the glands are predominantly mucous-secreting, low-levels of toxin transcripts can be detected. Venom thus appears to play little role in feeding behavior of most iguanian lizards or the powerful constricting snakes, and the low levels of expression argue against a defensive role. However, clearly the incipient or secondarily atrophied venom systems of these taxa may be a source of novel compounds useful in drug design and discovery. PMID:23547263

  10. Grooves to tubes: evolution of the venom delivery system in a Late Triassic "reptile".

    PubMed

    Mitchell, Jonathan S; Heckert, Andrew B; Sues, Hans-Dieter

    2010-12-01

    Venom delivery systems occur in a wide range of extant and fossil vertebrates and are primarily based on oral adaptations. Teeth range from unmodified (Komodo dragons) to highly specialized fangs similar to hypodermic needles (protero- and solenoglyphous snakes). Developmental biologists have documented evidence for an infolding pathway of fang evolution, where the groove folds over to create the more derived condition. However, the oldest known members of venomous clades retain the same condition as their extant relatives, resulting in no fossil evidence for the transition. Based on a comparison of previously known specimens with newly discovered teeth from North Carolina, we describe a new species of the Late Triassic archosauriform Uatchitodon and provide detailed analyses that provide evidence for both venom conduction and document a complete structural series from shallow grooves to fully enclosed tubular canals. While known only from teeth, Uatchitodon is highly diagnostic in possessing compound serrations and for having two venom canals on each tooth in the dentition. Further, although not a snake, Uatchitodon sheds light on the evolutionary trajectory of venom delivery systems in amniotes and provide solid evidence for venom conduction in archosaur-line diapsids. PMID:21060984

  11. Grooves to tubes: evolution of the venom delivery system in a Late Triassic "reptile"

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mitchell, Jonathan S.; Heckert, Andrew B.; Sues, Hans-Dieter

    2010-12-01

    Venom delivery systems occur in a wide range of extant and fossil vertebrates and are primarily based on oral adaptations. Teeth range from unmodified (Komodo dragons) to highly specialized fangs similar to hypodermic needles (protero- and solenoglyphous snakes). Developmental biologists have documented evidence for an infolding pathway of fang evolution, where the groove folds over to create the more derived condition. However, the oldest known members of venomous clades retain the same condition as their extant relatives, resulting in no fossil evidence for the transition. Based on a comparison of previously known specimens with newly discovered teeth from North Carolina, we describe a new species of the Late Triassic archosauriform Uatchitodon and provide detailed analyses that provide evidence for both venom conduction and document a complete structural series from shallow grooves to fully enclosed tubular canals. While known only from teeth, Uatchitodon is highly diagnostic in possessing compound serrations and for having two venom canals on each tooth in the dentition. Further, although not a snake, Uatchitodon sheds light on the evolutionary trajectory of venom delivery systems in amniotes and provide solid evidence for venom conduction in archosaur-line diapsids.

  12. Laterally Transferred Gene Recruited as a Venom in Parasitoid Wasps.

    PubMed

    Martinson, Ellen O; Martinson, Vincent G; Edwards, Rachel; Mrinalini; Werren, John H

    2016-04-01

    Parasitoid wasps use venom to manipulate the immunity and metabolism of their host insects in a variety of ways to provide resources for their offspring. Yet, how genes are recruited and evolve to perform venom functions remain open questions. A recently recognized source of eukaryotic genome innovation is lateral gene transfer (LGT). Glycoside hydrolase family 19 (GH19) chitinases are widespread in bacteria, microsporidia, and plants where they are used in nutrient acquisition or defense, but have previously not been known in metazoans. In this study, a GH19 chitinase LGT is described from the unicellular microsporidia/Rozella clade into parasitoid wasps of the superfamily Chalcidoidea, where it has become recruited as a venom protein. The GH19 chitinase is present in 15 species of chalcidoid wasps representing four families, and phylogenetic analysis indicates that it was laterally transferred near or before the origin of Chalcidoidea (∼95 Ma). The GH19 chitinase gene is highly expressed in the venom gland of at least seven species, indicating a role in the complex host manipulations performed by parasitoid wasp venom. RNAi knockdown in the model parasitoid Nasonia vitripennis reveals that-following envenomation-the GH19 chitinase induces fly hosts to upregulate genes involved in an immune response to fungi. A second, independent LGT of GH19 chitinase from microsporidia into mosquitoes was also found, also supported by phylogenetic reconstructions. Besides these two LGT events, GH19 chitinase is not found in any other sequenced animal genome, or in any fungi outside the microsporidia/Rozella clade. PMID:26715630

  13. A Limited Role for Gene Duplications in the Evolution of Platypus Venom

    PubMed Central

    Wong, Emily S. W.; Papenfuss, Anthony T.; Whittington, Camilla M.; Warren, Wesley C.; Belov, Katherine

    2012-01-01

    Gene duplication followed by adaptive selection is believed to be the primary driver of venom evolution. However, to date, no studies have evaluated the importance of gene duplications for venom evolution using a genomic approach. The availability of a sequenced genome and a venom gland transcriptome for the enigmatic platypus provides a unique opportunity to explore the role that gene duplication plays in venom evolution. Here, we identify gene duplication events and correlate them with expressed transcripts in an in-season venom gland. Gene duplicates (1,508) were identified. These duplicated pairs (421), including genes that have undergone multiple rounds of gene duplications, were expressed in the venom gland. The majority of these genes are involved in metabolism and protein synthesis not toxin functions. Twelve secretory genes including serine proteases, metalloproteinases, and protease inhibitors likely to produce symptoms of envenomation such as vasodilation and pain were detected. Only 16 of 107 platypus genes with high similarity to known toxins evolved through gene duplication. Platypus venom C-type natriuretic peptides and nerve growth factor do not possess lineage-specific gene duplicates. Extensive duplications, believed to increase the potency of toxic content and promote toxin diversification, were not found. This is the first study to take a genome-wide approach in order to examine the impact of gene duplication on venom evolution. Our findings support the idea that adaptive selection acts on gene duplicates to drive the independent evolution and functional diversification of similar venom genes in venomous species. However, gene duplications alone do not explain the “venome” of the platypus. Other mechanisms, such as alternative splicing and mutation, may be important in venom innovation. PMID:21816864

  14. The king cobra genome reveals dynamic gene evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system

    PubMed Central

    Vonk, Freek J.; Casewell, Nicholas R.; Henkel, Christiaan V.; Heimberg, Alysha M.; Jansen, Hans J.; McCleary, Ryan J. R.; Kerkkamp, Harald M. E.; Vos, Rutger A.; Guerreiro, Isabel; Calvete, Juan J.; Wüster, Wolfgang; Woods, Anthony E.; Logan, Jessica M.; Harrison, Robert A.; Castoe, Todd A.; de Koning, A. P. Jason; Pollock, David D.; Yandell, Mark; Calderon, Diego; Renjifo, Camila; Currier, Rachel B.; Salgado, David; Pla, Davinia; Sanz, Libia; Hyder, Asad S.; Ribeiro, José M. C.; Arntzen, Jan W.; van den Thillart, Guido E. E. J. M.; Boetzer, Marten; Pirovano, Walter; Dirks, Ron P.; Spaink, Herman P.; Duboule, Denis; McGlinn, Edwina; Kini, R. Manjunatha; Richardson, Michael K.

    2013-01-01

    Snakes are limbless predators, and many species use venom to help overpower relatively large, agile prey. Snake venoms are complex protein mixtures encoded by several multilocus gene families that function synergistically to cause incapacitation. To examine venom evolution, we sequenced and interrogated the genome of a venomous snake, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), and compared it, together with our unique transcriptome, microRNA, and proteome datasets from this species, with data from other vertebrates. In contrast to the platypus, the only other venomous vertebrate with a sequenced genome, we find that snake toxin genes evolve through several distinct co-option mechanisms and exhibit surprisingly variable levels of gene duplication and directional selection that correlate with their functional importance in prey capture. The enigmatic accessory venom gland shows a very different pattern of toxin gene expression from the main venom gland and seems to have recruited toxin-like lectin genes repeatedly for new nontoxic functions. In addition, tissue-specific microRNA analyses suggested the co-option of core genetic regulatory components of the venom secretory system from a pancreatic origin. Although the king cobra is limbless, we recovered coding sequences for all Hox genes involved in amniote limb development, with the exception of Hoxd12. Our results provide a unique view of the origin and evolution of snake venom and reveal multiple genome-level adaptive responses to natural selection in this complex biological weapon system. More generally, they provide insight into mechanisms of protein evolution under strong selection. PMID:24297900

  15. The king cobra genome reveals dynamic gene evolution and adaptation in the snake venom system.

    PubMed

    Vonk, Freek J; Casewell, Nicholas R; Henkel, Christiaan V; Heimberg, Alysha M; Jansen, Hans J; McCleary, Ryan J R; Kerkkamp, Harald M E; Vos, Rutger A; Guerreiro, Isabel; Calvete, Juan J; Wüster, Wolfgang; Woods, Anthony E; Logan, Jessica M; Harrison, Robert A; Castoe, Todd A; de Koning, A P Jason; Pollock, David D; Yandell, Mark; Calderon, Diego; Renjifo, Camila; Currier, Rachel B; Salgado, David; Pla, Davinia; Sanz, Libia; Hyder, Asad S; Ribeiro, José M C; Arntzen, Jan W; van den Thillart, Guido E E J M; Boetzer, Marten; Pirovano, Walter; Dirks, Ron P; Spaink, Herman P; Duboule, Denis; McGlinn, Edwina; Kini, R Manjunatha; Richardson, Michael K

    2013-12-17

    Snakes are limbless predators, and many species use venom to help overpower relatively large, agile prey. Snake venoms are complex protein mixtures encoded by several multilocus gene families that function synergistically to cause incapacitation. To examine venom evolution, we sequenced and interrogated the genome of a venomous snake, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), and compared it, together with our unique transcriptome, microRNA, and proteome datasets from this species, with data from other vertebrates. In contrast to the platypus, the only other venomous vertebrate with a sequenced genome, we find that snake toxin genes evolve through several distinct co-option mechanisms and exhibit surprisingly variable levels of gene duplication and directional selection that correlate with their functional importance in prey capture. The enigmatic accessory venom gland shows a very different pattern of toxin gene expression from the main venom gland and seems to have recruited toxin-like lectin genes repeatedly for new nontoxic functions. In addition, tissue-specific microRNA analyses suggested the co-option of core genetic regulatory components of the venom secretory system from a pancreatic origin. Although the king cobra is limbless, we recovered coding sequences for all Hox genes involved in amniote limb development, with the exception of Hoxd12. Our results provide a unique view of the origin and evolution of snake venom and reveal multiple genome-level adaptive responses to natural selection in this complex biological weapon system. More generally, they provide insight into mechanisms of protein evolution under strong selection. PMID:24297900

  16. Molecular Diversity and Gene Evolution of the Venom Arsenal of Terebridae Predatory Marine Snails

    PubMed Central

    Gorson, Juliette; Ramrattan, Girish; Verdes, Aida; Wright, Elizabeth M.; Kantor, Yuri; Rajaram Srinivasan, Ramakrishnan; Musunuri, Raj; Packer, Daniel; Albano, Gabriel; Qiu, Wei-Gang; Holford, Mandë

    2015-01-01

    Venom peptides from predatory organisms are a resource for investigating evolutionary processes such as adaptive radiation or diversification, and exemplify promising targets for biomedical drug development. Terebridae are an understudied lineage of conoidean snails, which also includes cone snails and turrids. Characterization of cone snail venom peptides, conotoxins, has revealed a cocktail of bioactive compounds used to investigate physiological cellular function, predator-prey interactions, and to develop novel therapeutics. However, venom diversity of other conoidean snails remains poorly understood. The present research applies a venomics approach to characterize novel terebrid venom peptides, teretoxins, from the venom gland transcriptomes of Triplostephanus anilis and Terebra subulata. Next-generation sequencing and de novo assembly identified 139 putative teretoxins that were analyzed for the presence of canonical peptide features as identified in conotoxins. To meet the challenges of de novo assembly, multiple approaches for cross validation of findings were performed to achieve reliable assemblies of venom duct transcriptomes and to obtain a robust portrait of Terebridae venom. Phylogenetic methodology was used to identify 14 teretoxin gene superfamilies for the first time, 13 of which are unique to the Terebridae. Additionally, basic local algorithm search tool homology-based searches to venom-related genes and posttranslational modification enzymes identified a convergence of certain venom proteins, such as actinoporin, commonly found in venoms. This research provides novel insights into venom evolution and recruitment in Conoidean predatory marine snails and identifies a plethora of terebrid venom peptides that can be used to investigate fundamental questions pertaining to gene evolution. PMID:26025559

  17. Effects of Gene Duplication, Positive Selection, and Shifts in Gene Expression on the Evolution of the Venom Gland Transcriptome in Widow Spiders.

    PubMed

    Haney, Robert A; Clarke, Thomas H; Gadgil, Rujuta; Fitzpatrick, Ryan; Hayashi, Cheryl Y; Ayoub, Nadia A; Garb, Jessica E

    2016-01-01

    Gene duplication and positive selection can be important determinants of the evolution of venom, a protein-rich secretion used in prey capture and defense. In a typical model of venom evolution, gene duplicates switch to venom gland expression and change function under the action of positive selection, which together with further duplication produces large gene families encoding diverse toxins. Although these processes have been demonstrated for individual toxin families, high-throughput multitissue sequencing of closely related venomous species can provide insights into evolutionary dynamics at the scale of the entire venom gland transcriptome. By assembling and analyzing multitissue transcriptomes from the Western black widow spider and two closely related species with distinct venom toxicity phenotypes, we do not find that gene duplication and duplicate retention is greater in gene families with venom gland biased expression in comparison with broadly expressed families. Positive selection has acted on some venom toxin families, but does not appear to be in excess for families with venom gland biased expression. Moreover, we find 309 distinct gene families that have single transcripts with venom gland biased expression, suggesting that the switching of genes to venom gland expression in numerous unrelated gene families has been a dominant mode of evolution. We also find ample variation in protein sequences of venom gland-specific transcripts, lineage-specific family sizes, and ortholog expression among species. This variation might contribute to the variable venom toxicity of these species. PMID:26733576

  18. Effects of Gene Duplication, Positive Selection, and Shifts in Gene Expression on the Evolution of the Venom Gland Transcriptome in Widow Spiders

    PubMed Central

    Haney, Robert A.; Clarke, Thomas H.; Gadgil, Rujuta; Fitzpatrick, Ryan; Hayashi, Cheryl Y.; Ayoub, Nadia A.; Garb, Jessica E.

    2016-01-01

    Gene duplication and positive selection can be important determinants of the evolution of venom, a protein-rich secretion used in prey capture and defense. In a typical model of venom evolution, gene duplicates switch to venom gland expression and change function under the action of positive selection, which together with further duplication produces large gene families encoding diverse toxins. Although these processes have been demonstrated for individual toxin families, high-throughput multitissue sequencing of closely related venomous species can provide insights into evolutionary dynamics at the scale of the entire venom gland transcriptome. By assembling and analyzing multitissue transcriptomes from the Western black widow spider and two closely related species with distinct venom toxicity phenotypes, we do not find that gene duplication and duplicate retention is greater in gene families with venom gland biased expression in comparison with broadly expressed families. Positive selection has acted on some venom toxin families, but does not appear to be in excess for families with venom gland biased expression. Moreover, we find 309 distinct gene families that have single transcripts with venom gland biased expression, suggesting that the switching of genes to venom gland expression in numerous unrelated gene families has been a dominant mode of evolution. We also find ample variation in protein sequences of venom gland–specific transcripts, lineage-specific family sizes, and ortholog expression among species. This variation might contribute to the variable venom toxicity of these species. PMID:26733576

  19. Globin gene structure in a reptile supports the transpositional model for amniote α- and β-globin gene evolution.

    PubMed

    Patel, Vidushi S; Ezaz, Tariq; Deakin, Janine E; Graves, Jennifer A Marshall

    2010-12-01

    The haemoglobin protein, required for oxygen transportation in the body, is encoded by α- and β-globin genes that are arranged in clusters. The transpositional model for the evolution of distinct α-globin and β-globin clusters in amniotes is much simpler than the previously proposed whole genome duplication model. According to this model, all jawed vertebrates share one ancient region containing α- and β-globin genes and several flanking genes in the order MPG-C16orf35-(α-β)-GBY-LUC7L that has been conserved for more than 410 million years, whereas amniotes evolved a distinct β-globin cluster by insertion of a transposed β-globin gene from this ancient region into a cluster of olfactory receptors flanked by CCKBR and RRM1. It could not be determined whether this organisation is conserved in all amniotes because of the paucity of information from non-avian reptiles. To fill in this gap, we examined globin gene organisation in a squamate reptile, the Australian bearded dragon lizard, Pogona vitticeps (Agamidae). We report here that the α-globin cluster (HBK, HBA) is flanked by C16orf35 and GBY and is located on a pair of microchromosomes, whereas the β-globin cluster is flanked by RRM1 on the 3' end and is located on the long arm of chromosome 3. However, the CCKBR gene that flanks the β-globin cluster on the 5' end in other amniotes is located on the short arm of chromosome 5 in P. vitticeps, indicating that a chromosomal break between the β-globin cluster and CCKBR occurred at least in the agamid lineage. Our data from a reptile species provide further evidence to support the transpositional model for the evolution of β-globin gene cluster in amniotes. PMID:21116705

  20. Application of community phylogenetic approaches to understand gene expression: differential exploration of venom gene space in predatory marine gastropods

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Predatory marine gastropods of the genus Conus exhibit substantial variation in venom composition both within and among species. Apart from mechanisms associated with extensive turnover of gene families and rapid evolution of genes that encode venom components (‘conotoxins’), the evolution of distinct conotoxin expression patterns is an additional source of variation that may drive interspecific differences in the utilization of species’ ‘venom gene space’. To determine the evolution of expression patterns of venom genes of Conus species, we evaluated the expression of A-superfamily conotoxin genes of a set of closely related Conus species by comparing recovered transcripts of A-superfamily genes that were previously identified from the genomes of these species. We modified community phylogenetics approaches to incorporate phylogenetic history and disparity of genes and their expression profiles to determine patterns of venom gene space utilization. Results Less than half of the A-superfamily gene repertoire of these species is expressed, and only a few orthologous genes are coexpressed among species. Species exhibit substantially distinct expression strategies, with some expressing sets of closely related loci (‘under-dispersed’ expression of available genes) while others express sets of more disparate genes (‘over-dispersed’ expression). In addition, expressed genes show higher dN/dS values than either unexpressed or ancestral genes; this implies that expression exposes genes to selection and facilitates rapid evolution of these genes. Few recent lineage-specific gene duplicates are expressed simultaneously, suggesting that expression divergence among redundant gene copies may be established shortly after gene duplication. Conclusions Our study demonstrates that venom gene space is explored differentially by Conus species, a process that effectively permits the independent and rapid evolution of venoms in these species. PMID:24903151

  1. Living without DAT: Loss and compensation of the dopamine transporter gene in sauropsids (birds and reptiles)

    PubMed Central

    Lovell, P. V.; Kasimi, B.; Carleton, J.; Velho, T. A.; Mello, C. V.

    2015-01-01

    The dopamine transporter (DAT) is a major regulator of synaptic dopamine (DA) availability. It plays key roles in motor control and motor learning, memory formation, and reward-seeking behavior, is a major target of cocaine and methamphetamines, and has been assumed to be conserved among vertebrates. We have found, however, that birds, crocodiles, and lizards lack the DAT gene. We also found that the unprecedented loss of this important gene is compensated for by the expression of the noradrenaline transporter (NAT) gene, and not the serotonin transporter genes, in dopaminergic cells, which explains the peculiar pharmacology of the DA reuptake activity previously noted in bird striatum. This unexpected pattern contrasts with that of ancestral vertebrates (e.g. fish) and mammals, where the NAT gene is selectively expressed in noradrenergic cells. DA circuits in birds/reptiles and mammals thus operate with an analogous reuptake mechanism exerted by different genes, bringing new insights into gene expression regulation in dopaminergic cells and the evolution of a key molecular player in reward and addiction pathways. PMID:26364979

  2. Identification and characterization of amelogenin genes in monotremes, reptiles, and amphibians

    PubMed Central

    Toyosawa, Satoru; O’hUigin, Colm; Figueroa, Felipe; Tichy, Herbert; Klein, Jan

    1998-01-01

    Two features make the tooth an excellent model in the study of evolutionary innovations: the relative simplicity of its structure and the fact that the major tooth-forming genes have been identified in eutherian mammals. To understand the nature of the innovation at the molecular level, it is necessary to identify the homologs of tooth-forming genes in other vertebrates. As a first step toward this goal, homologs of the eutherian amelogenin gene have been cloned and characterized in selected species of monotremes (platypus and echidna), reptiles (caiman), and amphibians (African clawed toad). Comparisons of the homologs reveal that the amelogenin gene evolves quickly in the repeat region, in which numerous insertions and deletions have obliterated any similarity among the genes, and slowly in other regions. The gene organization, the distribution of hydrophobic and hydrophilic segments in the encoded protein, and several other features have been conserved throughout the evolution of the tetrapod amelogenin gene. Clones corresponding to one locus only were found in caiman, whereas the clawed toad possesses at least two amelogenin-encoding loci. PMID:9789040

  3. Tissue-Specific Venom Composition and Differential Gene Expression in Sea Anemones.

    PubMed

    Macrander, Jason; Broe, Michael; Daly, Marymegan

    2016-01-01

    Cnidarians represent one of the few groups of venomous animals that lack a centralized venom transmission system. Instead, they are equipped with stinging capsules collectively known as nematocysts. Nematocysts vary in abundance and type across different tissues; however, the venom composition in most species remains unknown. Depending on the tissue type, the venom composition in sea anemones may be vital for predation, defense, or digestion. Using a tissue-specific RNA-seq approach, we characterize the venom assemblage in the tentacles, mesenterial filaments, and column for three species of sea anemone (Anemonia sulcata, Heteractis crispa, and Megalactis griffithsi). These taxa vary with regard to inferred venom potency, symbiont abundance, and nematocyst diversity. We show that there is significant variation in abundance of toxin-like genes across tissues and species. Although the cumulative toxin abundance for the column was consistently the lowest, contributions to the overall toxin assemblage varied considerably among tissues for different toxin types. Our gene ontology (GO) analyses also show sharp contrasts between conserved GO groups emerging from whole transcriptome analysis and tissue-specific expression among GO groups in our differential expression analysis. This study provides a framework for future characterization of tissue-specific venom and other functionally important genes in this lineage of simple bodied animals. PMID:27389690

  4. Tissue-Specific Venom Composition and Differential Gene Expression in Sea Anemones

    PubMed Central

    Macrander, Jason; Broe, Michael; Daly, Marymegan

    2016-01-01

    Cnidarians represent one of the few groups of venomous animals that lack a centralized venom transmission system. Instead, they are equipped with stinging capsules collectively known as nematocysts. Nematocysts vary in abundance and type across different tissues; however, the venom composition in most species remains unknown. Depending on the tissue type, the venom composition in sea anemones may be vital for predation, defense, or digestion. Using a tissue-specific RNA-seq approach, we characterize the venom assemblage in the tentacles, mesenterial filaments, and column for three species of sea anemone (Anemonia sulcata, Heteractis crispa, and Megalactis griffithsi). These taxa vary with regard to inferred venom potency, symbiont abundance, and nematocyst diversity. We show that there is significant variation in abundance of toxin-like genes across tissues and species. Although the cumulative toxin abundance for the column was consistently the lowest, contributions to the overall toxin assemblage varied considerably among tissues for different toxin types. Our gene ontology (GO) analyses also show sharp contrasts between conserved GO groups emerging from whole transcriptome analysis and tissue-specific expression among GO groups in our differential expression analysis. This study provides a framework for future characterization of tissue-specific venom and other functionally important genes in this lineage of simple bodied animals. PMID:27389690

  5. Major Histocompatibility Complex Genes Map to Two Chromosomes in an Evolutionarily Ancient Reptile, the Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus

    PubMed Central

    Miller, Hilary C.; O’Meally, Denis; Ezaz, Tariq; Amemiya, Chris; Marshall-Graves, Jennifer A.; Edwards, Scott

    2015-01-01

    Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are a central component of the vertebrate immune system and usually exist in a single genomic region. However, considerable differences in MHC organization and size exist between different vertebrate lineages. Reptiles occupy a key evolutionary position for understanding how variation in MHC structure evolved in vertebrates, but information on the structure of the MHC region in reptiles is limited. In this study, we investigate the organization and cytogenetic location of MHC genes in the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), the sole extant representative of the early-diverging reptilian order Rhynchocephalia. Sequencing and mapping of 12 clones containing class I and II MHC genes from a bacterial artificial chromosome library indicated that the core MHC region is located on chromosome 13q. However, duplication and translocation of MHC genes outside of the core region was evident, because additional class I MHC genes were located on chromosome 4p. We found a total of seven class I sequences and 11 class II β sequences, with evidence for duplication and pseudogenization of genes within the tuatara lineage. The tuatara MHC is characterized by high repeat content and low gene density compared with other species and we found no antigen processing or MHC framework genes on the MHC gene-containing clones. Our findings indicate substantial differences in MHC organization in tuatara compared with mammalian and avian MHCs and highlight the dynamic nature of the MHC. Further sequencing and annotation of tuatara and other reptile MHCs will determine if the tuatara MHC is representative of nonavian reptiles in general. PMID:25953959

  6. Major Histocompatibility Complex Genes Map to Two Chromosomes in an Evolutionarily Ancient Reptile, the Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus.

    PubMed

    Miller, Hilary C; O'Meally, Denis; Ezaz, Tariq; Amemiya, Chris; Marshall-Graves, Jennifer A; Edwards, Scott

    2015-07-01

    Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are a central component of the vertebrate immune system and usually exist in a single genomic region. However, considerable differences in MHC organization and size exist between different vertebrate lineages. Reptiles occupy a key evolutionary position for understanding how variation in MHC structure evolved in vertebrates, but information on the structure of the MHC region in reptiles is limited. In this study, we investigate the organization and cytogenetic location of MHC genes in the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), the sole extant representative of the early-diverging reptilian order Rhynchocephalia. Sequencing and mapping of 12 clones containing class I and II MHC genes from a bacterial artificial chromosome library indicated that the core MHC region is located on chromosome 13q. However, duplication and translocation of MHC genes outside of the core region was evident, because additional class I MHC genes were located on chromosome 4p. We found a total of seven class I sequences and 11 class II β sequences, with evidence for duplication and pseudogenization of genes within the tuatara lineage. The tuatara MHC is characterized by high repeat content and low gene density compared with other species and we found no antigen processing or MHC framework genes on the MHC gene-containing clones. Our findings indicate substantial differences in MHC organization in tuatara compared with mammalian and avian MHCs and highlight the dynamic nature of the MHC. Further sequencing and annotation of tuatara and other reptile MHCs will determine if the tuatara MHC is representative of nonavian reptiles in general. PMID:25953959

  7. Biased gene conversion and GC-content evolution in the coding sequences of reptiles and vertebrates.

    PubMed

    Figuet, Emeric; Ballenghien, Marion; Romiguier, Jonathan; Galtier, Nicolas

    2015-01-01

    Mammalian and avian genomes are characterized by a substantial spatial heterogeneity of GC-content, which is often interpreted as reflecting the effect of local GC-biased gene conversion (gBGC), a meiotic repair bias that favors G and C over A and T alleles in high-recombining genomic regions. Surprisingly, the first fully sequenced nonavian sauropsid (i.e., reptile), the green anole Anolis carolinensis, revealed a highly homogeneous genomic GC-content landscape, suggesting the possibility that gBGC might not be at work in this lineage. Here, we analyze GC-content evolution at third-codon positions (GC3) in 44 vertebrates species, including eight newly sequenced transcriptomes, with a specific focus on nonavian sauropsids. We report that reptiles, including the green anole, have a genome-wide distribution of GC3 similar to that of mammals and birds, and we infer a strong GC3-heterogeneity to be already present in the tetrapod ancestor. We further show that the dynamic of coding sequence GC-content is largely governed by karyotypic features in vertebrates, notably in the green anole, in agreement with the gBGC hypothesis. The discrepancy between third-codon positions and noncoding DNA regarding GC-content dynamics in the green anole could not be explained by the activity of transposable elements or selection on codon usage. This analysis highlights the unique value of third-codon positions as an insertion/deletion-free marker of nucleotide substitution biases that ultimately affect the evolution of proteins. PMID:25527834

  8. Biased Gene Conversion and GC-Content Evolution in the Coding Sequences of Reptiles and Vertebrates

    PubMed Central

    Figuet, Emeric; Ballenghien, Marion; Romiguier, Jonathan; Galtier, Nicolas

    2015-01-01

    Mammalian and avian genomes are characterized by a substantial spatial heterogeneity of GC-content, which is often interpreted as reflecting the effect of local GC-biased gene conversion (gBGC), a meiotic repair bias that favors G and C over A and T alleles in high-recombining genomic regions. Surprisingly, the first fully sequenced nonavian sauropsid (i.e., reptile), the green anole Anolis carolinensis, revealed a highly homogeneous genomic GC-content landscape, suggesting the possibility that gBGC might not be at work in this lineage. Here, we analyze GC-content evolution at third-codon positions (GC3) in 44 vertebrates species, including eight newly sequenced transcriptomes, with a specific focus on nonavian sauropsids. We report that reptiles, including the green anole, have a genome-wide distribution of GC3 similar to that of mammals and birds, and we infer a strong GC3-heterogeneity to be already present in the tetrapod ancestor. We further show that the dynamic of coding sequence GC-content is largely governed by karyotypic features in vertebrates, notably in the green anole, in agreement with the gBGC hypothesis. The discrepancy between third-codon positions and noncoding DNA regarding GC-content dynamics in the green anole could not be explained by the activity of transposable elements or selection on codon usage. This analysis highlights the unique value of third-codon positions as an insertion/deletion-free marker of nucleotide substitution biases that ultimately affect the evolution of proteins. PMID:25527834

  9. Biochemical characterization of the venom of the coral snake Micrurus tener and comparative biological activities in the mouse and a reptile model.

    PubMed

    Bénard-Valle, Melisa; Carbajal-Saucedo, Alejandro; de Roodt, Adolfo; López-Vera, Estuardo; Alagón, Alejandro

    2014-01-01

    The objective of this study was to identify the venom components that could play a relevant role during envenomation caused by the coral snake Micrurus tener, through its biochemical characterization as well as the analysis of its effects on a murine model. Furthermore, it aimed to evaluate crude venom, in addition to its components, for possible specificity of action on a natural prey model (Conopsis lineata). The toxicity of the crude venom (delivered subcutaneously) showed a significant difference between the Median Lethal Dose (LD₅₀) in mice (4.4 μg/g) and in Conopsis lineata (12.1 μg/g) that was not observed when comparing the Median Paralyzing Dose (PD₅₀) values (mice = 4.7 μg/g; snakes = 4.1 μg/g). These results are evidence that the choice of study model strongly influences the apparent effects of crude venom. Moreover, based on the observed physical signs in the animal models, it was concluded that the most important physical effect caused by the venom is flaccid paralysis, which facilitates capture and subduing of prey regardless of whether it is alive; death is a logical consequence of the lack of oxygenation. Venom fractionation using a C18 reverse phase column yielded 35 fractions from which 16.6% caused paralysis and/or death to both animal models, 21.9% caused paralysis and/or death only to C. lineata and 1.6% were murine specific. Surprisingly, the diversity of snake-specific fractions did not reflect a difference between the PD₅₀s of the crude venom in mice and snakes, making it impossible to assume some type of specificity for either of the study models. Finally, the great diversity and abundance of fractions with no observable effect in snakes or mice (42.7%) suggested that the observed lethal fractions are not the only relevant toxic fractions within the venom and emphasized the possible relevance of interaction between components to generate the syndrome caused by the venom as a whole. PMID:24161616

  10. Expression pattern of three-finger toxin and phospholipase A2 genes in the venom glands of two sea snakes, Lapemis curtus and Acalyptophis peronii: comparison of evolution of these toxins in land snakes, sea kraits and sea snakes

    PubMed Central

    Pahari, Susanta; Bickford, David; Fry, Bryan G; Kini, R Manjunatha

    2007-01-01

    Background Snake venom composition varies widely both among closely related species and within the same species, based on ecological variables. In terrestrial snakes, such variation has been proposed to be due to snakes' diet. Land snakes target various prey species including insects (arthropods), lizards (reptiles), frogs and toads (amphibians), birds (aves), and rodents (mammals), whereas sea snakes target a single vertebrate class (fishes) and often specialize on specific types of fish. It is therefore interesting to examine the evolution of toxins in sea snake venoms compared to that of land snakes. Results Here we describe the expression of toxin genes in the venom glands of two sea snakes, Lapemis curtus (Spine-bellied Sea Snake) and Acalyptophis peronii (Horned Sea Snake), two members of a large adaptive radiation which occupy very different ecological niches. We constructed cDNA libraries from their venom glands and sequenced 214 and 192 clones, respectively. Our data show that despite their explosive evolutionary radiation, there is very little variability in the three-finger toxin (3FTx) as well as the phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes, the two main constituents of Lapemis curtus and Acalyptophis peronii venom. To understand the evolutionary trends among land snakes, sea snakes and sea kraits, pairwise genetic distances (intraspecific and interspecific) of 3FTx and PLA2 sequences were calculated. Results show that these proteins appear to be highly conserved in sea snakes in contrast to land snakes or sea kraits, despite their extremely divergent and adaptive ecological radiation. Conclusion Based on these results, we suggest that streamlining in habitat and diet in sea snakes has possibly kept their toxin genes conserved, suggesting the idea that prey composition and diet breadth may contribute to the diversity and evolution of venom components. PMID:17900344

  11. Reptile Facts.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Steinheimer, Margaret

    1993-01-01

    Describes an award-winning bulletin board for introducing a unit on reptiles. This interactive bulletin board contains fun facts and counters common misconceptions about reptiles. Twelve true-false statements are hidden behind pull-up flaps. Four pictures ask students to identify the difference between often-confused animals. (PR)

  12. Comparative venom gland transcriptome analysis of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus reveals intraspecific toxic gene diversity and new venomous components

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background Lychas mucronatus is one scorpion species widely distributed in Southeast Asia and southern China. Anything is hardly known about its venom components, despite the fact that it can often cause human accidents. In this work, we performed a venomous gland transcriptome analysis by constructing and screening the venom gland cDNA library of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from Yunnan province and compared it with the previous results of Hainan-sourced Lychas mucronatus. Results A total of sixteen known types of venom peptides and proteins are obtained from the venom gland cDNA library of Yunnan-sourced Lychas mucronatus, which greatly increase the number of currently reported scorpion venom peptides. Interestingly, we also identified nineteen atypical types of venom molecules seldom reported in scorpion species. Surprisingly, the comparative transcriptome analysis of Yunnan-sourced Lychas mucronatus and Hainan-sourced Lychas mucronatus indicated that enormous diversity and vastly abundant difference could be found in venom peptides and proteins between populations of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from different geographical regions. Conclusions This work characterizes a large number of venom molecules never identified in scorpion species. This result provides a comparative analysis of venom transcriptomes of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from different geographical regions, which thoroughly reveals the fact that the venom peptides and proteins of the same scorpion species from different geographical regions are highly diversified and scorpion evolves to adapt a new environment by altering the primary structure and abundance of venom peptides and proteins. PMID:20663230

  13. Project Reptile!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Diffily, Deborah

    2001-01-01

    Integrating curriculum is important in helping children make connections within and among areas. Presents a class project for kindergarten children which came out of the students' interests and desire to build a reptile exhibit. (ASK)

  14. Gene structure, regulatory control, and evolution of black widow venom latrotoxins

    PubMed Central

    Bhere, Kanaka Varun; Haney, Robert A.; Ayoub, Nadia A.; Garb, Jessica E.

    2014-01-01

    Black widow venom contains α-latrotoxin, infamous for causing intense pain. Combining 33 kb of Latrodectus hesperus genomic DNA with RNA-Seq, we characterized the α-latrotoxin gene and discovered a paralog, 4.5 kb downstream. Both paralogs exhibit venom gland specific transcription, and may be regulated post-transcriptionally via musashi-like proteins. A 4 kb intron interrupts the α-latrotoxin coding sequence, while a 10 kb intron in the 3′ UTR of the paralog may cause nonsense-mediated decay. Phylogenetic analysis confirms these divergent latrotoxins diversified through recent tandem gene duplications. Thus, latrotoxin genes have more complex structures, regulatory controls, and sequence diversity than previously proposed. PMID:25217831

  15. Uterine Gene Expression in the Live-Bearing Lizard, Chalcides ocellatus, Reveals Convergence of Squamate Reptile and Mammalian Pregnancy Mechanisms

    PubMed Central

    Brandley, Matthew C.; Young, Rebecca L.; Warren, Dan L.; Thompson, Michael B.; Wagner, Günter P.

    2012-01-01

    Although the morphological and physiological changes involved in pregnancy in live-bearing reptiles are well studied, the genetic mechanisms that underlie these changes are not known. We used the viviparous African Ocellated Skink, Chalcides ocellatus, as a model to identify a near complete gene expression profile associated with pregnancy using RNA-Seq analyses of uterine transcriptomes. Pregnancy in C. ocellatus is associated with upregulation of uterine genes involved with metabolism, cell proliferation and death, and cellular transport. Moreover, there are clear parallels between the genetic processes associated with pregnancy in mammals and Chalcides in expression of genes related to tissue remodeling, angiogenesis, immune system regulation, and nutrient provisioning to the embryo. In particular, the pregnant uterine transcriptome is dominated by expression of proteolytic enzymes that we speculate are involved both with remodeling the chorioallantoic placenta and histotrophy in the omphaloplacenta. Elements of the maternal innate immune system are downregulated in the pregnant uterus, indicating a potential mechanism to avoid rejection of the embryo. We found a downregulation of major histocompatability complex loci and estrogen and progesterone receptors in the pregnant uterus. This pattern is similar to mammals but cannot be explained by the mammalian model. The latter finding provides evidence that pregnancy is controlled by different endocrinological mechanisms in mammals and reptiles. Finally, 88% of the identified genes are expressed in both the pregnant and the nonpregnant uterus, and thus, morphological and physiological changes associated with C. ocellatus pregnancy are likely a result of regulation of genes continually expressed in the uterus rather than the initiation of expression of unique genes. PMID:22333490

  16. Toxicologic information resources for reptile envenomations.

    PubMed

    McNally, Jude; Boesen, Keith; Boyer, Leslie

    2008-05-01

    The United States is the largest importer of reptiles in the world, with an estimated 1.5 to 2.0 million households keeping one or more reptiles. Snakes account for about 11% of these imports and it has been estimated that as many as 9% of these reptiles are venomous. Envenomations by nonindigenous venomous species are a rare but often serious medical emergency. Bites may occur during the care and handling of legitimate collections found in universities, zoos, or museums. The other predominant source of exotic envenomation is from amateur collectors participating in importation, propagation, and trade of non-native species. This article provides toxicologic information resources for snake envenomations. PMID:18406394

  17. Diversity of Conotoxin Gene Superfamilies in the Venomous Snail, Conus victoriae

    PubMed Central

    Robinson, Samuel D.; Safavi-Hemami, Helena; McIntosh, Lachlan D.; Purcell, Anthony W.; Norton, Raymond S.; Papenfuss, Anthony T.

    2014-01-01

    Animal venoms represent a vast library of bioactive peptides and proteins with proven potential, not only as research tools but also as drug leads and therapeutics. This is illustrated clearly by marine cone snails (genus Conus), whose venoms consist of mixtures of hundreds of peptides (conotoxins) with a diverse array of molecular targets, including voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels, G-protein coupled receptors and neurotransmitter transporters. Several conotoxins have found applications as research tools, with some being used or developed as therapeutics. The primary objective of this study was the large-scale discovery of conotoxin sequences from the venom gland of an Australian cone snail species, Conus victoriae. Using cDNA library normalization, high-throughput 454 sequencing, de novo transcriptome assembly and annotation with BLASTX and profile hidden Markov models, we discovered over 100 unique conotoxin sequences from 20 gene superfamilies, the highest diversity of conotoxins so far reported in a single study. Many of the sequences identified are new members of known conotoxin superfamilies, some help to redefine these superfamilies and others represent altogether new classes of conotoxins. In addition, we have demonstrated an efficient combination of methods to mine an animal venom gland and generate a library of sequences encoding bioactive peptides. PMID:24505301

  18. Antimicrobial Peptides in Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    van Hoek, Monique L.

    2014-01-01

    Reptiles are among the oldest known amniotes and are highly diverse in their morphology and ecological niches. These animals have an evolutionarily ancient innate-immune system that is of great interest to scientists trying to identify new and useful antimicrobial peptides. Significant work in the last decade in the fields of biochemistry, proteomics and genomics has begun to reveal the complexity of reptilian antimicrobial peptides. Here, the current knowledge about antimicrobial peptides in reptiles is reviewed, with specific examples in each of the four orders: Testudines (turtles and tortosises), Sphenodontia (tuataras), Squamata (snakes and lizards), and Crocodilia (crocodilans). Examples are presented of the major classes of antimicrobial peptides expressed by reptiles including defensins, cathelicidins, liver-expressed peptides (hepcidin and LEAP-2), lysozyme, crotamine, and others. Some of these peptides have been identified and tested for their antibacterial or antiviral activity; others are only predicted as possible genes from genomic sequencing. Bioinformatic analysis of the reptile genomes is presented, revealing many predicted candidate antimicrobial peptides genes across this diverse class. The study of how these ancient creatures use antimicrobial peptides within their innate immune systems may reveal new understandings of our mammalian innate immune system and may also provide new and powerful antimicrobial peptides as scaffolds for potential therapeutic development. PMID:24918867

  19. A transcriptomic analysis of gene expression in the venom gland of the snake Bothrops alternatus (urutu)

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background The genus Bothrops is widespread throughout Central and South America and is the principal cause of snakebite in these regions. Transcriptomic and proteomic studies have examined the venom composition of several species in this genus, but many others remain to be studied. In this work, we used a transcriptomic approach to examine the venom gland genes of Bothrops alternatus, a clinically important species found in southeastern and southern Brazil, Uruguay, northern Argentina and eastern Paraguay. Results A cDNA library of 5,350 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) was produced and assembled into 838 contigs and 4512 singletons. BLAST searches of relevant databases showed 30% hits and 70% no-hits, with toxin-related transcripts accounting for 23% and 78% of the total transcripts and hits, respectively. Gene ontology analysis identified non-toxin genes related to general metabolism, transcription and translation, processing and sorting, (polypeptide) degradation, structural functions and cell regulation. The major groups of toxin transcripts identified were metalloproteinases (81%), bradykinin-potentiating peptides/C-type natriuretic peptides (8.8%), phospholipases A2 (5.6%), serine proteinases (1.9%) and C-type lectins (1.5%). Metalloproteinases were almost exclusively type PIII proteins, with few type PII and no type PI proteins. Phospholipases A2 were essentially acidic; no basic PLA2 were detected. Minor toxin transcripts were related to L-amino acid oxidase, cysteine-rich secretory proteins, dipeptidylpeptidase IV, hyaluronidase, three-finger toxins and ohanin. Two non-toxic proteins, thioredoxin and double-specificity phosphatase Dusp6, showed high sequence identity to similar proteins from other snakes. In addition to the above features, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, microsatellites, transposable elements and inverted repeats that could contribute to toxin diversity were observed. Conclusions Bothrops alternatus venom gland contains the major toxin

  20. Effects of geographical heterogeneity in species interactions on the evolution of venom genes

    PubMed Central

    Chang, Dan; Olenzek, Amy M.; Duda, Thomas F.

    2015-01-01

    Geographical heterogeneity in the composition of biotic interactions can create a mosaic of selection regimes that may drive the differentiation of phenotypes that operate at the interface of these interactions. Nonetheless, little is known about effects of these geographical mosaics on the evolution of genes encoding traits associated with species interactions. Predatory marine snails of the family Conidae use venom, a cocktail of conotoxins, to capture prey. We characterized patterns of geographical variation at five conotoxin genes of a vermivorous species, Conus ebraeus, at Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa, and evaluated how these patterns of variation are associated with geographical heterogeneity in prey utilization. All populations show distinct patterns of prey utilization. Three ‘highly polymorphic’ conotoxin genes showed significant geographical differences in allelic frequency, and appear to be affected by different modes of selection among populations. Two genes exhibited low levels of diversity and a general lack of differentiation among populations. Levels of diversity of ‘highly polymorphic’ genes exhibit a positive relationship with dietary breadth. The different patterns of evolution exhibited by conotoxin genes suggest that these genes play different roles in prey capture, and that some genes are more greatly affected by differences in predator–prey interactions than others. Moreover, differences in dietary breadth appear to have a greater influence on the differentiation of venoms than differences in the species of prey. PMID:25788600

  1. Rapid expansion of the protein disulfide isomerase gene family facilitates the folding of venom peptides.

    PubMed

    Safavi-Hemami, Helena; Li, Qing; Jackson, Ronneshia L; Song, Albert S; Boomsma, Wouter; Bandyopadhyay, Pradip K; Gruber, Christian W; Purcell, Anthony W; Yandell, Mark; Olivera, Baldomero M; Ellgaard, Lars

    2016-03-22

    Formation of correct disulfide bonds in the endoplasmic reticulum is a crucial step for folding proteins destined for secretion. Protein disulfide isomerases (PDIs) play a central role in this process. We report a previously unidentified, hypervariable family of PDIs that represents the most diverse gene family of oxidoreductases described in a single genus to date. These enzymes are highly expressed specifically in the venom glands of predatory cone snails, animals that synthesize a remarkably diverse set of cysteine-rich peptide toxins (conotoxins). Enzymes in this PDI family, termed conotoxin-specific PDIs, significantly and differentially accelerate the kinetics of disulfide-bond formation of several conotoxins. Our results are consistent with a unique biological scenario associated with protein folding: The diversification of a family of foldases can be correlated with the rapid evolution of an unprecedented diversity of disulfide-rich structural domains expressed by venomous marine snails in the superfamily Conoidea. PMID:26957604

  2. Venom of Parasitoid Pteromalus puparum Impairs Host Humoral Antimicrobial Activity by Decreasing Host Cecropin and Lysozyme Gene Expression

    PubMed Central

    Fang, Qi; Wang, Bei-Bei; Ye, Xin-Hai; Wang, Fei; Ye, Gong-Yin

    2016-01-01

    Insect host/parasitoid interactions are co-evolved systems in which host defenses are balanced by parasitoid mechanisms to disable or hide from host immune effectors. Here, we report that Pteromalus puparum venom impairs the antimicrobial activity of its host Pieris rapae. Inhibition zone results showed that bead injection induced the antimicrobial activity of the host hemolymph but that venom inhibited it. The cDNAs encoding cecropin and lysozyme were screened. Relative quantitative PCR results indicated that all of the microorganisms and bead injections up-regulated the transcript levels of the two genes but that venom down-regulated them. At 8 h post bead challenge, there was a peak in the transcript level of the cecropin gene, whereas the peak of lysozyme gene occurred at 24 h. The transcripts levels of the two genes were higher in the granulocytes and fat body than in other tissues. RNA interference decreased the transcript levels of the two genes and the antimicrobial activity of the pupal hemolymph. Venom injections similarly silenced the expression of the two genes during the first 8 h post-treatment in time- and dose-dependent manners, after which the silence effects abated. Additionally, recombinant cecropin and lysozyme had no significant effect on the emergence rate of pupae that were parasitized by P. puparum females. These findings suggest one mechanism of impairing host antimicrobial activity by parasitoid venom. PMID:26907346

  3. Venom of Parasitoid Pteromalus puparum Impairs Host Humoral Antimicrobial Activity by Decreasing Host Cecropin and Lysozyme Gene Expression.

    PubMed

    Fang, Qi; Wang, Bei-Bei; Ye, Xin-Hai; Wang, Fei; Ye, Gong-Yin

    2016-02-01

    Insect host/parasitoid interactions are co-evolved systems in which host defenses are balanced by parasitoid mechanisms to disable or hide from host immune effectors. Here, we report that Pteromalus puparum venom impairs the antimicrobial activity of its host Pieris rapae. Inhibition zone results showed that bead injection induced the antimicrobial activity of the host hemolymph but that venom inhibited it. The cDNAs encoding cecropin and lysozyme were screened. Relative quantitative PCR results indicated that all of the microorganisms and bead injections up-regulated the transcript levels of the two genes but that venom down-regulated them. At 8 h post bead challenge, there was a peak in the transcript level of the cecropin gene, whereas the peak of lysozyme gene occurred at 24 h. The transcripts levels of the two genes were higher in the granulocytes and fat body than in other tissues. RNA interference decreased the transcript levels of the two genes and the antimicrobial activity of the pupal hemolymph. Venom injections similarly silenced the expression of the two genes during the first 8 h post-treatment in time- and dose-dependent manners, after which the silence effects abated. Additionally, recombinant cecropin and lysozyme had no significant effect on the emergence rate of pupae that were parasitized by P. puparum females. These findings suggest one mechanism of impairing host antimicrobial activity by parasitoid venom. PMID:26907346

  4. Reptile Hematology.

    PubMed

    Sykes, John M; Klaphake, Eric

    2015-09-01

    The basic principles of hematology used in mammalian medicine can be applied to reptiles. The appearances of the blood cells are significantly different from those seen in most mammals, and vary with taxa and staining method used. Many causes for abnormalities of the reptilian hemogram are similar to those for mammals, although additional factors such as venipuncture site, season, hibernation status, captivity status, and environmental factors can also affect values, making interpretation of hematologic results challenging. Values in an individual should be compared with reference ranges specific to that species, gender, and environmental conditions when available. PMID:26297412

  5. Mitochondrial genome of the Komodo dragon: efficient sequencing method with reptile-oriented primers and novel gene rearrangements.

    PubMed

    Kumazawa, Yoshinori; Endo, Hideki

    2004-04-30

    The mitochondrial genome of the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) was nearly completely sequenced, except for two highly repetitive noncoding regions. An efficient sequencing method for squamate mitochondrial genomes was established by combining the long polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology and a set of reptile-oriented primers designed for nested PCR amplifications. It was found that the mitochondrial genome had novel gene arrangements in which genes from NADH dehydrogenase subunit 6 to proline tRNA were extensively shuffled with duplicate control regions. These control regions had 99% sequence similarity over 700 bp. Although snake mitochondrial genomes are also known to possess duplicate control regions with nearly identical sequences, the location of the second control region suggested independent occurrence of the duplication on lineages leading to snakes and the Komodo dragon. Another feature of the mitochondrial genome of the Komodo dragon was the considerable number of tandem repeats, including sequences with a strong secondary structure, as a possible site for the slipped-strand mispairing in replication. These observations are consistent with hypotheses that tandem duplications via the slipped-strand mispairing may induce mitochondrial gene rearrangements and may serve to maintain similar copies of the control region. PMID:15449544

  6. Molecular characterization and functional analysis of venom allergen-like protein genes in the potato cyst nematode, Globodera rostochiensis

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Venom allergen-like proteins (VAPs) are members of the SCP/Tpx-1/Ag5/PR-1/Sc7 family of eukaryotic secreted proteins. We have identified a VAP gene (designated GrVAP-1) from the potato cyst nematode Globodera rostochiensis. The GrVAP-1 gene contains an open reading frame (660 bp) encoding a putati...

  7. Molecular characterization and functional analysis of venom allergen-like protein genes in the potato cyst nematode, Globodera rostochiensis

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Venom allergen-like proteins (VAPs) are members of the SCP/Tpx-1/Ag5/PR-1/Sc7 family of eukaryotic secreted proteins. We have identified a VAP gene (designated GrVAP-1) from the potato cyst nematode Globodera rostochiensis. The GrVAP-1 gene contains an open reading frame (660 bp) encoding a putative...

  8. Expression patterns of Wnt genes in the venom claws of centipedes.

    PubMed

    Hayden, Luke; Arthur, Wallace

    2013-01-01

    The venom claws of centipedes, also known as forcipules, represent an evolutionary novelty that must have arisen in the centipede stem species, as they are not found in any other myriapods. The developmental-genetic changes that are involved in the origin of novelties are of considerable interest. It has previously been shown that centipede forcipules have a unique Hox code. However, this is a combinatorial code: no single Hox gene has a forcipule-specific expression. Here, we focus on Wnt genes. Two genes of this family show forcipule-specific expression in the "model centipede" Strigamia maritima: Wnt7 and Wnt11. For Wnt7, this forcipular expression zone seems to be a new one, which has arisen in evolution subsequently to other expression zones of the same gene. However, for Wnt11, the forcipule-specific expression probably arose by reduction of a more general pattern that originally included most or all of the limbs of an ancestral myriapod. Thus the developmental-genetic basis of the evolutionary change that turned the first pair of walking legs into venom claws is complex, involving different types of change in expression pattern. This sort of complexity is likely to be the case regarding evolutionary changes in morphology in general. Whether the origins of those features that can be considered as novelties are different in terms of their developmental-genetic basis from more routine evolutionary changes remains an open question. PMID:24074281

  9. Tears of Venom: Hydrodynamics of Reptilian Envenomation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Young, Bruce A.; Herzog, Florian; Friedel, Paul; Rammensee, Sebastian; Bausch, Andreas; van Hemmen, J. Leo

    2011-05-01

    In the majority of venomous snakes, and in many other reptiles, venom is conveyed from the animal’s gland to the prey’s tissue through an open groove on the surface of the teeth and not through a tubular fang. Here we focus on two key aspects of the grooved delivery system: the hydrodynamics of venom as it interacts with the groove geometry, and the efficiency of the tooth-groove-venom complex as the tooth penetrates the prey’s tissue. We show that the surface tension of the venom is the driving force underlying the envenomation dynamics. In so doing, we explain not only the efficacy of the open groove, but also the prevalence of this mechanism among reptiles.

  10. Identification and phylogeny of Arabian snakes: Comparison of venom chromatographic profiles versus 16S rRNA gene sequences.

    PubMed

    Al Asmari, Abdulrahman; Manthiri, Rajamohammed Abbas; Khan, Haseeb Ahmad

    2014-11-01

    Identification of snake species is important for various reasons including the emergency treatment of snake bite victims. We present a simple method for identification of six snake species using the gel filtration chromatographic profiles of their venoms. The venoms of Echis coloratus, Echis pyramidum, Cerastes gasperettii, Bitis arietans, Naja arabica, and Walterinnesia aegyptia were milked, lyophilized, diluted and centrifuged to separate the mucus from the venom. The clear supernatants were filtered and chromatographed on fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC). We obtained the 16S rRNA gene sequences of the above species and performed phylogenetic analysis using the neighbor-joining method. The chromatograms of venoms from different snake species showed peculiar patterns based on the number and location of peaks. The dendrograms generated from similarity matrix based on the presence/absence of particular chromatographic peaks clearly differentiated Elapids from Viperids. Molecular cladistics using 16S rRNA gene sequences resulted in jumping clades while separating the members of these two families. These findings suggest that chromatographic profiles of snake venoms may provide a simple and reproducible chemical fingerprinting method for quick identification of snake species. However, the validation of this methodology requires further studies on large number of specimens from within and across species. PMID:25313278

  11. Multi-copy venom genes hidden in de novo transcriptome assemblies, a cautionary tale with the snakelocks sea anemone Anemonia sulcata (Pennant, 1977).

    PubMed

    Macrander, Jason; Broe, Michael; Daly, Marymegan

    2015-12-15

    Using a partial transcriptome of the snakelocks anemone (Anemonia sulcata) we identify toxin gene candidates that were incorrectly assembled into several Trinity components. Our approach recovers hidden diversity found within some toxin gene families that would otherwise go undetected when using Trinity, a widely used program for venom-focused transcriptome reconstructions. Unidentified hidden transcripts may significantly impact conclusions made regarding venom composition (or other multi-copy conserved genes) when using Trinity or other de novo assembly programs. PMID:26464059

  12. Venom gland transcriptomes of two elapid snakes (Bungarus multicinctus and Naja atra) and evolution of toxin genes

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Kraits (genus Bungarus) and cobras (genus Naja) are two representative toxic genera of elapids in the old world. Although they are closely related genera and both of their venoms are very toxic, the compositions of their venoms are very different. To unveil their detailed venoms and their evolutionary patterns, we constructed venom gland cDNA libraries and genomic bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries for Bungarus multicinctus and Naja atra, respectively. We sequenced about 1500 cDNA clones for each of the venom cDNA libraries and screened BAC libraries of the two snakes by blot analysis using four kinds of toxin probes; i.e., three-finger toxin (3FTx), phospholipase A2 (PLA2), kunitz-type protease inhibitor (Kunitz), and natriuretic peptide (NP). Results In total, 1092 valid expressed sequences tags (ESTs) for B. multicinctus and 1166 ESTs for N. atra were generated. About 70% of these ESTs can be annotated as snake toxin transcripts. 3FTx (64.5%) and β bungarotoxin (25.1%) comprise the main toxin classes in B. multicinctus, while 3FTx (95.8%) is the dominant toxin in N. atra. We also observed several less abundant venom families in B. multicinctus and N. atra, such as PLA2, C-type lectins, and Kunitz. Peculiarly a cluster of NP precursors with tandem NPs was detected in B. multicinctus. A total of 71 positive toxin BAC clones in B. multicinctus and N. atra were identified using four kinds of toxin probes (3FTx, PLA2, Kunitz, and NP), among which 39 3FTx-postive BACs were sequenced to reveal gene structures of 3FTx toxin genes. Conclusions Based on the toxin ESTs and 3FTx gene sequences, the major components of B. multicinctus venom transcriptome are neurotoxins, including long chain alpha neurotoxins (α-ntx) and the recently originated β bungarotoxin, whereas the N. atra venom transcriptome mainly contains 3FTxs with cytotoxicity and neurotoxicity (short chain α-ntx). The data also revealed that tandem duplications contributed the most to

  13. Molecular Evolution, Functional Variation, and Proposed Nomenclature of the Gene Family That Includes Sphingomyelinase D in Sicariid Spider Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Bodner, Melissa R.; Cordes, Matthew H.J.; Baldwin, Katherine L.; Rynerson, Melody R.; Burns, Scott N.; Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A.

    2009-01-01

    The venom enzyme sphingomyelinase D (SMase D) in the spider family Sicariidae (brown or fiddleback spiders [Loxosceles] and six-eyed sand spiders [Sicarius]) causes dermonecrosis in mammals. SMase D is in a gene family with multiple venom-expressed members that vary in functional specificity. We analyze molecular evolution of this family and variation in SMase D activity among crude venoms using a data set that represents the phylogenetic breadth of Loxosceles and Sicarius. We isolated a total of 190 nonredundant nucleotide sequences encoding 168 nonredundant amino acid sequences of SMase D homologs from 21 species. Bayesian phylogenies support two major clades that we name α and β, within which we define seven and three subclades, respectively. Sequences in the α clade are exclusively from New World Loxosceles and Loxosceles rufescens and include published genes for which expression products have SMase D and dermonecrotic activity. The β clade includes paralogs from New World Loxosceles that have no, or reduced, SMase D and no dermonecrotic activity and also paralogs from Sicarius and African Loxosceles of unknown activity. Gene duplications are frequent, consistent with a birth-and-death model, and there is evidence of purifying selection with episodic positive directional selection. Despite having venom-expressed SMase D homologs, venoms from New World Sicarius have reduced, or no, detectable SMase D activity, and Loxosceles in the Southern African spinulosa group have low SMase D activity. Sequence conservation mapping shows >98% conservation of proposed catalytic residues of the active site and around a plug motif at the opposite end of the TIM barrel, but α and β clades differ in conservation of key residues surrounding the apparent substrate binding pocket. Based on these combined results, we propose an inclusive nomenclature for the gene family, renaming it SicTox, and discuss emerging patterns of functional diversification. PMID:19042943

  14. The phylogeny of squamate reptiles (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians) inferred from nine nuclear protein-coding genes.

    PubMed

    Vidal, Nicolas; Hedges, S Blair

    2005-01-01

    Squamate reptiles number approximately 8000 living species and are a major component of the world's terrestrial vertebrate diversity. However, the established relationships of the higher-level groups have been questioned in recent molecular analyses. Here we expand the molecular data to include DNA sequences, totaling 6192 base pairs (bp), from nine nuclear protein-coding genes (C-mos, RAG1, RAG2, R35, HOXA13, JUN, alpha-enolase, amelogenin and MAFB) for 19 taxa representing all major lineages. Our phylogenetic analyses yield a largely resolved phylogeny that challenges previous morphological analyses and requires a new classification. The limbless dibamids are the most basal squamates. Of the remaining taxa (Bifurcata), the gekkonids form a basal lineage. The Unidentata, squamates that are neither dibamids nor gekkonids, are divided into the Scinciformata (scincids, xantusiids, and cordylids) and the Episquamata (remaining taxa). Episquamata includes Laterata (Teiformata, Lacertiformata, and Amphisbaenia, with the latter two joined in Lacertibaenia) and Toxicofera (iguanians, anguimorphs and snakes). Our results reject several previous hypotheses that identified either the varanids, or a burrowing lineage such as amphisbaenians or dibamids, as the closest relative of snakes. Our study also rejects the monophyly of both Scleroglossa and Autarchoglossa, because Iguania, a species-rich lineage (ca. 1440 sp.), is in a highly nested position rather than being basal among Squamata. Thus iguanians should not be viewed as representing a primitive state of squamate evolution but rather a specialized and successful clade combining lingual prehension, dependence on visual cues, and ambush foraging mode, and which feeds mainly on prey avoided by other squamates. Molecular time estimates show that the Triassic and Jurassic (from 250 to 150 Myr) were important times for squamate evolution and diversification. PMID:16286089

  15. Reptiles in the Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gantert, Robert L.

    1972-01-01

    Discusses the advantages of using reptiles in biology and elementary school classes, describes demonstration techniques used by the author, and suggests some student activities using reptiles, especially snakes and lizards. (AL)

  16. Viruses Infecting Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Marschang, Rachel E.

    2011-01-01

    A large number of viruses have been described in many different reptiles. These viruses include arboviruses that primarily infect mammals or birds as well as viruses that are specific for reptiles. Interest in arboviruses infecting reptiles has mainly focused on the role reptiles may play in the epidemiology of these viruses, especially over winter. Interest in reptile specific viruses has concentrated on both their importance for reptile medicine as well as virus taxonomy and evolution. The impact of many viral infections on reptile health is not known. Koch’s postulates have only been fulfilled for a limited number of reptilian viruses. As diagnostic testing becomes more sensitive, multiple infections with various viruses and other infectious agents are also being detected. In most cases the interactions between these different agents are not known. This review provides an update on viruses described in reptiles, the animal species in which they have been detected, and what is known about their taxonomic positions. PMID:22163336

  17. A Comprehensive Analysis of the Phylogeny, Genomic Organization and Expression of Immunoglobulin Light Chain Genes in Alligator sinensis, an Endangered Reptile Species

    PubMed Central

    Lu, Yan; Zhang, Chenglin; Wu, Xiaobing; Han, Haitang; Zhao, Yaofeng; Ren, Liming

    2016-01-01

    Crocodilians are evolutionarily distinct reptiles that are distantly related to lizards and are thought to be the closest relatives of birds. Compared with birds and mammals, few studies have investigated the Ig light chain of crocodilians. Here, employing an Alligator sinensis genomic bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library and available genome data, we characterized the genomic organization of the Alligator sinensis IgL gene loci. The Alligator sinensis has two IgL isotypes, λ and κ, the same as Anolis carolinensis. The Igλ locus contains 6 Cλ genes, each preceded by a Jλ gene, and 86 potentially functional Vλ genes upstream of (Jλ-Cλ)n. The Igκ locus contains a single Cκ gene, 6 Jκs and 62 functional Vκs. All VL genes are classified into a total of 31 families: 19 Vλ families and 12 Vκ families. Based on an analysis of the chromosomal location of the light chain genes among mammals, birds, lizards and frogs, the data further confirm that there are two IgL isotypes in the Alligator sinensis: Igλ and Igκ. By analyzing the cloned Igλ/κ cDNA, we identified a biased usage pattern of V families in the expressed Vλ and Vκ. An analysis of the junctions of the recombined VJ revealed the presence of N and P nucleotides in both expressed λ and κ sequences. Phylogenetic analysis of the V genes revealed V families shared by mammals, birds, reptiles and Xenopus, suggesting that these conserved V families are orthologous and have been retained during the evolution of IgL. Our data suggest that the Alligator sinensis IgL gene repertoire is highly diverse and complex and provide insight into immunoglobulin gene evolution in vertebrates. PMID:26901135

  18. A Comprehensive Analysis of the Phylogeny, Genomic Organization and Expression of Immunoglobulin Light Chain Genes in Alligator sinensis, an Endangered Reptile Species.

    PubMed

    Wang, Xifeng; Cheng, Gang; Lu, Yan; Zhang, Chenglin; Wu, Xiaobing; Han, Haitang; Zhao, Yaofeng; Ren, Liming

    2016-01-01

    Crocodilians are evolutionarily distinct reptiles that are distantly related to lizards and are thought to be the closest relatives of birds. Compared with birds and mammals, few studies have investigated the Ig light chain of crocodilians. Here, employing an Alligator sinensis genomic bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library and available genome data, we characterized the genomic organization of the Alligator sinensis IgL gene loci. The Alligator sinensis has two IgL isotypes, λ and κ, the same as Anolis carolinensis. The Igλ locus contains 6 Cλ genes, each preceded by a Jλ gene, and 86 potentially functional Vλ genes upstream of (Jλ-Cλ)n. The Igκ locus contains a single Cκ gene, 6 Jκs and 62 functional Vκs. All VL genes are classified into a total of 31 families: 19 Vλ families and 12 Vκ families. Based on an analysis of the chromosomal location of the light chain genes among mammals, birds, lizards and frogs, the data further confirm that there are two IgL isotypes in the Alligator sinensis: Igλ and Igκ. By analyzing the cloned Igλ/κ cDNA, we identified a biased usage pattern of V families in the expressed Vλ and Vκ. An analysis of the junctions of the recombined VJ revealed the presence of N and P nucleotides in both expressed λ and κ sequences. Phylogenetic analysis of the V genes revealed V families shared by mammals, birds, reptiles and Xenopus, suggesting that these conserved V families are orthologous and have been retained during the evolution of IgL. Our data suggest that the Alligator sinensis IgL gene repertoire is highly diverse and complex and provide insight into immunoglobulin gene evolution in vertebrates. PMID:26901135

  19. Diversification of a single ancestral gene into a successful toxin superfamily in highly venomous Australian funnel-web spiders

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Spiders have evolved pharmacologically complex venoms that serve to rapidly subdue prey and deter predators. The major toxic factors in most spider venoms are small, disulfide-rich peptides. While there is abundant evidence that snake venoms evolved by recruitment of genes encoding normal body proteins followed by extensive gene duplication accompanied by explosive structural and functional diversification, the evolutionary trajectory of spider-venom peptides is less clear. Results Here we present evidence of a spider-toxin superfamily encoding a high degree of sequence and functional diversity that has evolved via accelerated duplication and diversification of a single ancestral gene. The peptides within this toxin superfamily are translated as prepropeptides that are posttranslationally processed to yield the mature toxin. The N-terminal signal sequence, as well as the protease recognition site at the junction of the propeptide and mature toxin are conserved, whereas the remainder of the propeptide and mature toxin sequences are variable. All toxin transcripts within this superfamily exhibit a striking cysteine codon bias. We show that different pharmacological classes of toxins within this peptide superfamily evolved under different evolutionary selection pressures. Conclusions Overall, this study reinforces the hypothesis that spiders use a combinatorial peptide library strategy to evolve a complex cocktail of peptide toxins that target neuronal receptors and ion channels in prey and predators. We show that the ω-hexatoxins that target insect voltage-gated calcium channels evolved under the influence of positive Darwinian selection in an episodic fashion, whereas the κ-hexatoxins that target insect calcium-activated potassium channels appear to be under negative selection. A majority of the diversifying sites in the ω-hexatoxins are concentrated on the molecular surface of the toxins, thereby facilitating neofunctionalisation leading to new toxin

  20. Trends in the Evolution of Snake Toxins Underscored by an Integrative Omics Approach to Profile the Venom of the Colubrid Phalotris mertensi.

    PubMed

    Campos, Pollyanna Fernandes; Andrade-Silva, Débora; Zelanis, André; Paes Leme, Adriana Franco; Rocha, Marisa Maria Teixeira; Menezes, Milene Cristina; Serrano, Solange M T; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio de Loiola Meirelles

    2016-01-01

    Only few studies on snake venoms were dedicated to deeply characterize the toxin secretion of animals from the Colubridae family, despite the fact that they represent the majority of snake diversity. As a consequence, some evolutionary trends observed in venom proteins that underpinned the evolutionary histories of snake toxins were based on data from a minor parcel of the clade. Here, we investigated the proteins of the totally unknown venom from Phalotris mertensi (Dipsadinae subfamily), in order to obtain a detailed profile of its toxins and to appreciate evolutionary tendencies occurring in colubrid venoms. By means of integrated omics and functional approaches, including RNAseq, Sanger sequencing, high-resolution proteomics, recombinant protein production, and enzymatic tests, we verified an active toxic secretion containing up to 21 types of proteins. A high content of Kunitz-type proteins and C-type lectins were observed, although several enzymatic components such as metalloproteinases and an L-amino acid oxidase were also present in the venom. Interestingly, an arguable venom component of other species was demonstrated as a true venom protein and named svLIPA (snake venom acid lipase). This finding indicates the importance of checking the actual protein occurrence across species before rejecting genes suggested to code for toxins, which are relevant for the discussion about the early evolution of reptile venoms. Moreover, trends in the evolution of some toxin classes, such as simplification of metalloproteinases and rearrangements of Kunitz and Wap domains, parallel similar phenomena observed in other venomous snake families and provide a broader picture of toxin evolution. PMID:27412610

  1. Trends in the Evolution of Snake Toxins Underscored by an Integrative Omics Approach to Profile the Venom of the Colubrid Phalotris mertensi

    PubMed Central

    Campos, Pollyanna Fernandes; Andrade-Silva, Débora; Zelanis, André; Paes Leme, Adriana Franco; Rocha, Marisa Maria Teixeira; Menezes, Milene Cristina; Serrano, Solange M.T.; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio de Loiola Meirelles

    2016-01-01

    Only few studies on snake venoms were dedicated to deeply characterize the toxin secretion of animals from the Colubridae family, despite the fact that they represent the majority of snake diversity. As a consequence, some evolutionary trends observed in venom proteins that underpinned the evolutionary histories of snake toxins were based on data from a minor parcel of the clade. Here, we investigated the proteins of the totally unknown venom from Phalotris mertensi (Dipsadinae subfamily), in order to obtain a detailed profile of its toxins and to appreciate evolutionary tendencies occurring in colubrid venoms. By means of integrated omics and functional approaches, including RNAseq, Sanger sequencing, high-resolution proteomics, recombinant protein production, and enzymatic tests, we verified an active toxic secretion containing up to 21 types of proteins. A high content of Kunitz-type proteins and C-type lectins were observed, although several enzymatic components such as metalloproteinases and an L-amino acid oxidase were also present in the venom. Interestingly, an arguable venom component of other species was demonstrated as a true venom protein and named svLIPA (snake venom acid lipase). This finding indicates the importance of checking the actual protein occurrence across species before rejecting genes suggested to code for toxins, which are relevant for the discussion about the early evolution of reptile venoms. Moreover, trends in the evolution of some toxin classes, such as simplification of metalloproteinases and rearrangements of Kunitz and Wap domains, parallel similar phenomena observed in other venomous snake families and provide a broader picture of toxin evolution. PMID:27412610

  2. Combining phylogenomic and supermatrix approaches, and a time-calibrated phylogeny for squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) based on 52 genes and 4162 species.

    PubMed

    Zheng, Yuchi; Wiens, John J

    2016-01-01

    Two common approaches for estimating phylogenies in species-rich groups are to: (i) sample many loci for few species (e.g. phylogenomic approach), or (ii) sample many species for fewer loci (e.g. supermatrix approach). In theory, these approaches can be combined to simultaneously resolve both higher-level relationships (with many genes) and species-level relationships (with many taxa). However, fundamental questions remain unanswered about this combined approach. First, will higher-level relationships more closely resemble those estimated from many genes or those from many taxa? Second, will branch support increase for higher-level relationships (relative to the estimate from many taxa)? Here, we address these questions in squamate reptiles. We combined two recently published datasets, one based on 44 genes for 161 species, and one based on 12 genes for 4161 species. The likelihood-based tree from the combined matrix (52 genes, 4162 species) shared more higher-level clades with the 44-gene tree (90% vs. 77% shared). Branch support for higher level-relationships was marginally higher than in the 12-gene tree, but lower than in the 44-gene tree. Relationships were apparently not obscured by the abundant missing data (92% overall). We provide a time-calibrated phylogeny based on extensive sampling of genes and taxa as a resource for comparative studies. PMID:26475614

  3. Cloning and characterization of a venom allergen-like protein gene cluster from the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus.

    PubMed

    Lin, Shifeng; Jian, Heng; Zhao, Haijuan; Yang, Dan; Liu, Qian

    2011-02-01

    Pinewood nematode (PWN) is the causal agent of the pine wilt disease. Previous studies have suggested that secretions from the esophageal glands of PWN play an important role in pathogenicity. A cluster of three venom allergen-like protein genes and one pseudogene, Bx-vap-1, Bx-vap-2, Bx-vap-3 and Bx-vap-P, were identified within a 3.7-kb region. Additionally, three putative modification, transport and regulatory protein genes were also detected in the same flanking region of the Bx-vap gene cluster. Genes vap-1, -2 and -3 are functional and encode three major allelic variants of PWN venom allergen-like proteins. But Bx-vap-P is an untranscribed pseudogene. Genes vap-1, -2 and -3 produce predicted products of 204, 206 and 203 amino acid residues, respectively, including the putative signal peptide sequence at the amino termini. In situ mRNA hybridization analysis showed that the transcripts of genes vap-1, -2 and -3 accumulated exclusively within the esophageal gland cells of Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. PMID:20971105

  4. Integrated “omics” profiling indicates that miRNAs are modulators of the ontogenetic venom composition shift in the Central American rattlesnake, Crotalus simus simus

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    toxins are the result of early recruitment events in the Toxicofera clade of reptiles by which ordinary genes were duplicated, and the new genes selectively expressed in the venom gland and amplified to multigene families with extensive neofunctionalization throughout the approximately 112–125 million years of ophidian evolution. Our findings support the view that understanding the phenotypic diversity of snake venoms requires a deep knowledge of the mechanisms regulating the transcriptional and translational activity of the venom gland. Our results suggest a functional role for miRNAs. The impact of specific miRNAs in the modulation of venom composition, and the integration of the mechanisms responsible for the generation of these miRNAs in the evolutionary landscape of the snake's venom gland, are further challenges for future research. PMID:23575160

  5. Extraction of Venom and Venom Gland Microdissections from Spiders for Proteomic and Transcriptomic Analyses

    PubMed Central

    Garb, Jessica E.

    2014-01-01

    Venoms are chemically complex secretions typically comprising numerous proteins and peptides with varied physiological activities. Functional characterization of venom proteins has important biomedical applications, including the identification of drug leads or probes for cellular receptors. Spiders are the most species rich clade of venomous organisms, but the venoms of only a few species are well-understood, in part due to the difficulty associated with collecting minute quantities of venom from small animals. This paper presents a protocol for the collection of venom from spiders using electrical stimulation, demonstrating the procedure on the Western black widow (Latrodectus hesperus). The collected venom is useful for varied downstream analyses including direct protein identification via mass spectrometry, functional assays, and stimulation of venom gene expression for transcriptomic studies. This technique has the advantage over protocols that isolate venom from whole gland homogenates, which do not separate genuine venom components from cellular proteins that are not secreted as part of the venom. Representative results demonstrate the detection of known venom peptides from the collected sample using mass spectrometry. The venom collection procedure is followed by a protocol for dissecting spider venom glands, with results demonstrating that this leads to the characterization of venom-expressed proteins and peptides at the sequence level. PMID:25407635

  6. Sphingomyelinase D from venoms of Loxosceles spiders: evolutionary insights from cDNA sequences and gene structure.

    PubMed

    Binford, Greta J; Cordes, Matthew H J; Wells, Michael A

    2005-04-01

    Loxosceles spider venoms cause dermonecrosis in mammalian tissues. The toxin sphingomyelinase D (SMaseD) is a sufficient causative agent in lesion formation and is only known in these spiders and a few pathogenic bacteria. Similarities between spider and bacterial SMaseD in molecular weights, pIs and N-terminal amino acid sequence suggest an evolutionary relationship between these molecules. We report three cDNA sequences from venom-expressed mRNAs, analyses of amino acid sequences, and partial characterization of gene structure of SMaseD homologs from Loxosceles arizonica with the goal of better understanding the evolution of this toxin. Sequence analyses indicate SMaseD is a single domain protein and a divergent member of the ubitiquous, broadly conserved glycerophosphoryl diester phosphodiesterase family (GDPD). Bacterial SMaseDs are not identifiable as homologs of spider SMaseD or GDPD family members. Amino acid sequence similarities do not afford clear distinction between independent origin of toxic SMaseD activity in spiders and bacteria and origin in one lineage by ancient horizontal transfer from the other. The SMaseD genes span at least 6500bp and contain at least 5 introns. Together, these data indicate L. arizonica SMaseD has been evolving within a eukaryotic genome for a long time ruling out origin by recent transfer from bacteria. PMID:15777950

  7. Internal parasites of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Raś-Noryńska, Małgorzata; Sokół, Rajmund

    2015-01-01

    Nowadays a growing number of exotic reptiles are kept as pets. The aim of this study was to determine the species of parasites found in reptile patients of veterinary practices in Poland. Fecal samples obtained from 76 lizards, 15 turtles and 10 snakes were examined by flotation method and direct smear stained with Lugol's iodine. In 63 samples (62.4%) the presence of parasite eggs and oocysts was revealed. Oocysts of Isospora spp. (from 33% to 100% of the samples, depending on the reptilian species) and Oxyurids eggs (10% to 75%) were predominant. In addition, isolated Eimeria spp. oocysts and Giardia intestinalis cysts were found, as well as Strongylus spp. and Hymenolepis spp. eggs. Pet reptiles are often infected with parasites, some of which are potentially dangerous to humans. A routine parasitological examination should be done in such animals. PMID:26342508

  8. A new approach for investigating venom function applied to venom calreticulin in a parasitoid wasp.

    PubMed

    Siebert, Aisha L; Wheeler, David; Werren, John H

    2015-12-01

    A new method is developed to investigate functions of venom components, using venom gene RNA interference knockdown in the venomous animal coupled with RNA sequencing in the envenomated host animal. The vRNAi/eRNA-Seq approach is applied to the venom calreticulin component (v-crc) of the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. Parasitoids are common, venomous animals that inject venom proteins into host insects, where they modulate physiology and metabolism to produce a better food resource for the parasitoid larvae. vRNAi/eRNA-Seq indicates that v-crc acts to suppress expression of innate immune cell response, enhance expression of clotting genes in the host, and up-regulate cuticle genes. V-crc KD also results in an increased melanization reaction immediately following envenomation. We propose that v-crc inhibits innate immune response to parasitoid venom and reduces host bleeding during adult and larval parasitoid feeding. Experiments do not support the hypothesis that v-crc is required for the developmental arrest phenotype observed in envenomated hosts. We propose that an important role for some venom components is to reduce (modulate) the exaggerated effects of other venom components on target host gene expression, physiology, and survival, and term this venom mitigation. A model is developed that uses vRNAi/eRNA-Seq to quantify the contribution of individual venom components to total venom phenotypes, and to define different categories of mitigation by individual venoms on host gene expression. Mitigating functions likely contribute to the diversity of venom proteins in parasitoids and other venomous organisms. PMID:26359852

  9. Rapid Evolution of Beta-Keratin Genes Contribute to Phenotypic Differences That Distinguish Turtles and Birds from Other Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Li, Yang I.; Kong, Lesheng; Ponting, Chris P.; Haerty, Wilfried

    2013-01-01

    Sequencing of vertebrate genomes permits changes in distinct protein families, including gene gains and losses, to be ascribed to lineage-specific phenotypes. A prominent example of this is the large-scale duplication of beta-keratin genes in the ancestors of birds, which was crucial to the subsequent evolution of their beaks, claws, and feathers. Evidence suggests that the shell of Pseudomys nelsoni contains at least 16 beta-keratins proteins, but it is unknown whether this is a complete set and whether their corresponding genes are orthologous to avian beak, claw, or feather beta-keratin genes. To address these issues and to better understand the evolution of the turtle shell at a molecular level, we surveyed the diversity of beta-keratin genes from the genome assemblies of three turtles, Chrysemys picta, Pelodiscus sinensis, and Chelonia mydas, which together represent over 160 Myr of chelonian evolution. For these three turtles, we found 200 beta-keratins, which indicate that, as for birds, a large expansion of beta-keratin genes in turtles occurred concomitantly with the evolution of a unique phenotype, namely, their plastron and carapace. Phylogenetic reconstruction of beta-keratin gene evolution suggests that separate waves of gene duplication within a single genomic location gave rise to scales, claws, and feathers in birds, and independently the scutes of the shell in turtles. PMID:23576313

  10. Parasites in pet reptiles

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Exotic reptiles originating from the wild can be carriers of many different pathogens and some of them can infect humans. Reptiles imported into Slovenia from 2000 to 2005, specimens of native species taken from the wild and captive bred species were investigated. A total of 949 reptiles (55 snakes, 331 lizards and 563 turtles), belonging to 68 different species, were examined for the presence of endoparasites and ectoparasites. Twelve different groups (Nematoda (5), Trematoda (1), Acanthocephala (1), Pentastomida (1) and Protozoa (4)) of endoparasites were determined in 26 (47.3%) of 55 examined snakes. In snakes two different species of ectoparasites were also found. Among the tested lizards eighteen different groups (Nematoda (8), Cestoda (1), Trematoda (1), Acanthocephala (1), Pentastomida (1) and Protozoa (6)) of endoparasites in 252 (76.1%) of 331 examined animals were found. One Trombiculid ectoparasite was determined. In 563 of examined turtles eight different groups (Nematoda (4), Cestoda (1), Trematoda (1) and Protozoa (2)) of endoparasites were determined in 498 (88.5%) animals. In examined turtles three different species of ectoparasites were seen. The established prevalence of various parasites in reptiles used as pet animals indicates the need for examination on specific pathogens prior to introduction to owners. PMID:21624124

  11. Rainforest: Reptiles and Amphibians

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Olson, Susanna

    2006-01-01

    Rainforest reptiles and amphibians are a vibrantly colored, multimedia art experience. To complete the entire project one may need to dedicate many class periods to production, yet in each aspect of the project a new and important skill, concept, or element is being taught or reinforced. This project incorporates the study of warm and cool color…

  12. Viruses in reptiles

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    The etiology of reptilian viral diseases can be attributed to a wide range of viruses occurring across different genera and families. Thirty to forty years ago, studies of viruses in reptiles focused mainly on the zoonotic potential of arboviruses in reptiles and much effort went into surveys and challenge trials of a range of reptiles with eastern and western equine encephalitis as well as Japanese encephalitis viruses. In the past decade, outbreaks of infection with West Nile virus in human populations and in farmed alligators in the USA has seen the research emphasis placed on the issue of reptiles, particularly crocodiles and alligators, being susceptible to, and reservoirs for, this serious zoonotic disease. Although there are many recognised reptilian viruses, the evidence for those being primary pathogens is relatively limited. Transmission studies establishing pathogenicity and cofactors are likewise scarce, possibly due to the relatively low commercial importance of reptiles, difficulties with the availability of animals and permits for statistically sound experiments, difficulties with housing of reptiles in an experimental setting or the inability to propagate some viruses in cell culture to sufficient titres for transmission studies. Viruses as causes of direct loss of threatened species, such as the chelonid fibropapilloma associated herpesvirus and ranaviruses in farmed and wild tortoises and turtles, have re-focused attention back to the characterisation of the viruses as well as diagnosis and pathogenesis in the host itself. 1. Introduction 2. Methods for working with reptilian viruses 3. Reptilian viruses described by virus families 3.1. Herpesviridae 3.2. Iridoviridae 3.2.1 Ranavirus 3.2.2 Erythrocytic virus 3.2.3 Iridovirus 3.3. Poxviridae 3.4. Adenoviridae 3.5. Papillomaviridae 3.6. Parvoviridae 3.7. Reoviridae 3.8. Retroviridae and inclusion body disease of Boid snakes 3.9. Arboviruses 3.9.1. Flaviviridae 3.9.2. Togaviridae 3.10. Caliciviridae

  13. Proteomics and Deep Sequencing Comparison of Seasonally Active Venom Glands in the Platypus Reveals Novel Venom Peptides and Distinct Expression Profiles*

    PubMed Central

    Wong, Emily S. W.; Morgenstern, David; Mofiz, Ehtesham; Gombert, Sara; Morris, Katrina M.; Temple-Smith, Peter; Renfree, Marilyn B.; Whittington, Camilla M.; King, Glenn F.; Warren, Wesley C.; Papenfuss, Anthony T.; Belov, Katherine

    2012-01-01

    The platypus is a venomous monotreme. Male platypuses possess a spur on their hind legs that is connected to glands in the pelvic region. They produce venom only during the breeding season, presumably to fight off conspecifics. We have taken advantage of this unique seasonal production of venom to compare the transcriptomes of in- and out-of-season venom glands, in conjunction with proteomic analysis, to identify previously undiscovered venom genes. Comparison of the venom glands revealed distinct gene expression profiles that are consistent with changes in venom gland morphology and venom volumes in and out of the breeding season. Venom proteins were identified through shot-gun sequenced venom proteomes of three animals using RNA-seq-derived transcripts for peptide-spectral matching. 5,157 genes were expressed in the venom glands, 1,821 genes were up-regulated in the in-season gland, and 10 proteins were identified in the venom. New classes of platypus-venom proteins identified included antimicrobials, amide oxidase, serpin protease inhibitor, proteins associated with the mammalian stress response pathway, cytokines, and other immune molecules. Five putative toxins have only been identified in platypus venom: growth differentiation factor 15, nucleobindin-2, CD55, a CXC-chemokine, and corticotropin-releasing factor-binding protein. These novel venom proteins have potential biomedical and therapeutic applications and provide insights into venom evolution. PMID:22899769

  14. Allergies to Insect Venom

    MedlinePlus

    ... The smell of food attracts these insects.  Use insect repellents and keep insecticide available. Treatment tips:  Venom immunotherapy (allergy shots to insect venom(s) is highly effective in preventing subsequent sting ...

  15. Molecular Mechanisms of Sex Determination in Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Rhen, T.; Schroeder, A.

    2010-01-01

    Charles Darwin first provided a lucid explanation of how gender differences evolve nearly 140 years ago. Yet, a disconnect remains between his theory of sexual selection and the mechanisms that underlie the development of males and females. In particular, comparisons between representatives of different phyla (i.e., flies and mice) reveal distinct genetic mechanisms for sexual differentiation. Such differences are hard to comprehend unless we study organisms that bridge the phylogenetic gap. Analysis of variation within monophyletic groups (i.e., amniotes) is just as important if we hope to elucidate the evolution of mechanisms underlying sexual differentiation. Here we review the molecular, cellular, morphological, and physiological changes associated with sex determination in reptiles. Most research on the molecular biology of sex determination in reptiles describes expression patterns for orthologs of mammalian sex-determining genes. Many of these genes have evolutionarily conserved expression profiles (i.e., DMRT1 and SOX9 are expressed at a higher level in developing testes vs. developing ovaries in all species), which suggests functional conservation. However, expression profiling alone does not test gene function and will not identify novel sex-determining genes or gene interactions. For that reason, we provide a prospectus on various techniques that promise to reveal new sex-determining genes and regulatory interactions among these genes. We offer specific examples of novel candidate genes and a new signaling pathway in support of these techniques. PMID:20145384

  16. IgE-associated IGHV genes from venom and peanut allergic individuals lack mutational evidence of antigen selection.

    PubMed

    Wang, Yan; Jackson, Katherine J L; Davies, Janet; Chen, Zhiliang; Gaeta, Bruno A; Rimmer, Janet; Sewell, William A; Collins, Andrew M

    2014-01-01

    Antigen selection of B cells within the germinal center reaction generally leads to the accumulation of replacement mutations in the complementarity-determining regions (CDRs) of immunoglobulin genes. Studies of mutations in IgE-associated VDJ gene sequences have cast doubt on the role of antigen selection in the evolution of the human IgE response, and it may be that selection for high affinity antibodies is a feature of some but not all allergic diseases. The severity of IgE-mediated anaphylaxis is such that it could result from higher affinity IgE antibodies. We therefore investigated IGHV mutations in IgE-associated sequences derived from ten individuals with a history of anaphylactic reactions to bee or wasp venom or peanut allergens. IgG sequences, which more certainly experience antigen selection, served as a control dataset. A total of 6025 unique IgE and 5396 unique IgG sequences were generated using high throughput 454 pyrosequencing. The proportion of replacement mutations seen in the CDRs of the IgG dataset was significantly higher than that of the IgE dataset, and the IgE sequences showed little evidence of antigen selection. To exclude the possibility that 454 errors had compromised analysis, rigorous filtering of the datasets led to datasets of 90 core IgE sequences and 411 IgG sequences. These sequences were present as both forward and reverse reads, and so were most unlikely to include sequencing errors. The filtered datasets confirmed that antigen selection plays a greater role in the evolution of IgG sequences than of IgE sequences derived from the study participants. PMID:24586993

  17. Insights into the Evolution of a Snake Venom Multi-Gene Family from the Genomic Organization of Echis ocellatus SVMP Genes

    PubMed Central

    Sanz, Libia; Calvete, Juan J.

    2016-01-01

    The molecular events underlying the evolution of the Snake Venom Metalloproteinase (SVMP) family from an A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase (ADAM) ancestor remain poorly understood. Comparative genomics may provide decisive information to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this multi-locus toxin family. Here, we report the genomic organization of Echis ocellatus genes encoding SVMPs from the PII and PI classes. Comparisons between them and between these genes and the genomic structures of Anolis carolinensis ADAM28 and E. ocellatus PIII-SVMP EOC00089 suggest that insertions and deletions of intronic regions played key roles along the evolutionary pathway that shaped the current diversity within the multi-locus SVMP gene family. In particular, our data suggest that emergence of EOC00028-like PI-SVMP from an ancestral PII(e/d)-type SVMP involved splicing site mutations that abolished both the 3′ splice AG acceptor site of intron 12* and the 5′ splice GT donor site of intron 13*, and resulted in the intronization of exon 13* and the consequent destruction of the structural integrity of the PII-SVMP characteristic disintegrin domain. PMID:27420095

  18. Insights into the Evolution of a Snake Venom Multi-Gene Family from the Genomic Organization of Echis ocellatus SVMP Genes.

    PubMed

    Sanz, Libia; Calvete, Juan J

    2016-01-01

    The molecular events underlying the evolution of the Snake Venom Metalloproteinase (SVMP) family from an A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase (ADAM) ancestor remain poorly understood. Comparative genomics may provide decisive information to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this multi-locus toxin family. Here, we report the genomic organization of Echis ocellatus genes encoding SVMPs from the PII and PI classes. Comparisons between them and between these genes and the genomic structures of Anolis carolinensis ADAM28 and E. ocellatus PIII-SVMP EOC00089 suggest that insertions and deletions of intronic regions played key roles along the evolutionary pathway that shaped the current diversity within the multi-locus SVMP gene family. In particular, our data suggest that emergence of EOC00028-like PI-SVMP from an ancestral PII(e/d)-type SVMP involved splicing site mutations that abolished both the 3' splice AG acceptor site of intron 12* and the 5' splice GT donor site of intron 13*, and resulted in the intronization of exon 13* and the consequent destruction of the structural integrity of the PII-SVMP characteristic disintegrin domain. PMID:27420095

  19. Neurotropic effects of venoms and other factors that promote prey acquisition.

    PubMed

    Gennaro, Joseph Francis; Hall, Hollis Pace; Casey, Ernest Raymond; Hayes, William Kent

    2007-09-01

    Mammals envenomed by either the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) or the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) exhibit an immediate but transitory pupillar contraction, a parasympathomimetic effect mediated through the ciliary ganglion that can be prevented by a retrobulbar injection of anesthetic. The venom of the cottonmouth injected into the lymph spaces of the frog (Rana pipiens) produces an immediate and total collapse of the lung sacs. Applied locally to the surface, it produces a constriction that eventually collapses the entire sac. Tests of venoms and toxins from both anterior and posterior parts of the venom apparatus indicate that the lung-collapsing moiety originates in the accessory, not the main portion of the venom gland. This is the first example of a functional specialization within the whole structure. It seems that this factor is elaborated primarily in snakes that prey upon frogs, although insufficient data are available from this study to confirm this. In both reptile species, the predatory strike is accompanied by an immediate effect, perhaps mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system, designed to incapacitate the prey and facilitate capture. These effects cannot now be attributed to neurotoxins because the effect of the former is transitory (and not lethal) and neither has been purified sufficiently to determine potency or structure. Both take part in securing, but not killing, the prey, and both directly oppose the sympathetic nervous system "fright-fight/flight" response. Evidence is presented to support the possibility that known epigenetic mechanisms are capable of effecting heritable changes in gene expression that could allow for the development of factors that facilitate prey acquisition and promote rapid adaptation to environmental change. PMID:17620305

  20. Echidna venom gland transcriptome provides insights into the evolution of monotreme venom.

    PubMed

    Wong, Emily S W; Nicol, Stewart; Warren, Wesley C; Belov, Katherine

    2013-01-01

    Monotremes (echidna and platypus) are egg-laying mammals. One of their most unique characteristic is that males have venom/crural glands that are seasonally active. Male platypuses produce venom during the breeding season, delivered via spurs, to aid in competition against other males. Echidnas are not able to erect their spurs, but a milky secretion is produced by the gland during the breeding season. The function and molecular composition of echidna venom is as yet unknown. Hence, we compared the deeply sequenced transcriptome of an in-season echidna crural gland to that of a platypus and searched for putative venom genes to provide clues into the function of echidna venom and the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. We found that the echidna venom gland transcriptome was markedly different from the platypus with no correlation between the top 50 most highly expressed genes. Four peptides found in the venom of the platypus were detected in the echidna transcriptome. However, these genes were not highly expressed in echidna, suggesting that they are the remnants of the evolutionary history of the ancestral venom gland. Gene ontology terms associated with the top 100 most highly expressed genes in echidna, showed functional terms associated with steroidal and fatty acid production, suggesting that echidna "venom" may play a role in scent communication during the breeding season. The loss of the ability to erect the spur and other unknown evolutionary forces acting in the echidna lineage resulted in the gradual decay of venom components and the evolution of a new role for the crural gland. PMID:24265746

  1. Venomics of New World pit vipers: Genus-wide comparisons of venom proteomes across Agkistrodon

    PubMed Central

    Lomonte, Bruno; Tsai, Wan-Chih; Ureña-Diaz, Juan Manuel; Sanz, Libia; Mora-Obando, Diana; Sánchez, Elda E.; Fry, Bryan G.; Gutiérrez, José María; Gibbs, H. Lisle; Sovic, Michael G.; Calvete, Juan J.

    2015-01-01

    We report a genus-wide comparison of venom proteome variation across New World pit vipers in the genus Agkistrodon. Despite the wide variety of habitats occupied by this genus and that all its taxa feed on diverse species of vertebrates and invertebrate prey, the venom proteomes of copperheads, cottonmouths, and cantils are remarkably similar, both in the type and relative abundance of their different toxin families. The venoms from all the eleven species and subspecies sampled showed relatively similar proteolytic and PLA2 activities. In contrast, quantitative differences were observed in hemorrhagic and myotoxic activities in mice. The highest myotoxic activity was observed with the venoms of A. b. bilineatus, followed by A. p. piscivorus, whereas the venoms of A. c. contortrix and A. p. leucostoma induced the lowest myotoxic activity. The venoms of Agkistrodon bilineatus subspecies showed the highest hemorrhagic activity and A. c. contortrix the lowest. Compositional and toxicological analyses agree with clinical observations of envenomations by Agkistrodon in the USA and Central America. A comparative analysis of Agkistrodon shows that venom divergence tracks phylogeny of this genus to a greater extent than in Sistrurus rattlesnakes, suggesting that the distinct natural histories of Agkistrodon and Sistrurus clades may have played a key role in molding the patterns of evolution of their venom protein genes. Biological significance A deep understanding of the structural and functional profiles of venoms and of the principles governing the evolution of venomous systems is a goal of venomics. Isolated proteomics analyses have been conducted on venoms from many species of vipers and pit vipers. However, making sense of these large inventories of data requires the integration of this information across multiple species to identify evolutionary and ecological trends. Our genus-wide venomics study provides a comprehensive overview of the toxic arsenal across

  2. Prophenoloxidase from Pieris rapae: gene cloning, activity, and transcription in response to venom/calyx fluid from the endoparasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata *

    PubMed Central

    Zhu, Jia-ying; Yang, Pu; Wu, Guo-xing

    2011-01-01

    Prophenoloxidase (PPO) plays an important role in melanization, necessary for defense against intruding parasitoids. Parasitoids have evolved to inject maternal virulence factors into the host hemocoel to suppress hemolymph melanization for the successful development of their progeny. In this study, the full-length complementary DNA (cDNA) of a Pieris rapae PPO was cloned. Its cDNA contained a 2 076-base pair (bp) open reading frame (ORF) encoding 691 amino acids (aa). Two putative copper-binding sites, a proteolytic activation site, three conserved hemocyanin domains, and a thiol ester motif were found in the deduced amino acid sequence. According to both multiple alignment and phylogenetic analysis, P. rapae PPO gene cloned here is a member of the lepidopteran PPO-2 family. Injection of Cotesia glomerata venom or calyx fluid resulted in reduction of P. rapae hemolymph phenoloxidase activity, demonstrating the ability to inhibit the host′s melanization. Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed that transcripts of P. rapae PPO-2 in the haemocytes from larvae had not significantly changed following venom injection, suggesting that the regulation of PPO messenger RNA (mRNA) expression by venom was not employed by C. glomerata to cause failure of melanization in parasitized host. While decreased P. rapae PPO-2 gene expression was observed in the haemocytes after calyx fluid injection, no detectable transcriptional change was induced by parasitization, indicating that transcriptional down-regulation of PPO by calyx fluid might play a minor role involved in inhibiting the host′s melanization. PMID:21265042

  3. Preserving reptiles for research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gotte, Steve W.; Jacobs, Jeremy F.; Zug, George R.

    2016-01-01

    What are voucher specimens and why do we collect them? Voucher specimens are animals and/or their parts that are deposited in a research museum to document the occurrence of a taxon at a specific location in space and time (Pleijel et al., 2008; Reynolds and McDiarmid, 2012). For field biologists, vouchers are the repeatable element of a field study as they allow other biologists, now and in the future, to confirm the identity of species that were studied. The scientific importance of a voucher specimen or series of specimens is that other people are afforded the opportunity to examine the entire animal and confirm or correct identifications. A photographic record is somewhat useful for recording the occurrence of a species, but such records can be insufficient for reliable confirmation of specific identity. Even if a photo shows diagnostic characters of currently recognized taxa, it may not show characters that separate taxa that may be described in the future. Substantial cryptic biodiversity is being found in even relatively well-known herpetofaunas (Crawford et al., 2010), and specimens allow researchers to retroactively evaluate the true diversity in a study as understanding of taxonomy evolves. They enable biologists to study the systematic relationships of populations by quantifying variation in different traits. Specimens are also a source of biological data such as behaviour, ecology, epidemiology, and reproduction through examination of their anatomy, reproductive and digestive tracts, and parasites (Suarez and Tsutsui, 2004). Preserving reptiles as vouchers is not difficult, although doing it properly requires care, effort, and time. Poorly preserved vouchers can invalidate the results and conclusions of your study because of the inability to confirm the identity of your study animals. Good science requires repeatability of observations, and the absence of vouchers or poorly preserved ones prevents such confirmation. Due to space restrictions, we are

  4. DNA barcoding amphibians and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Vences, Miguel; Nagy, Zoltán T; Sonet, Gontran; Verheyen, Erik

    2012-01-01

    Only a few major research programs are currently targeting COI barcoding of amphibians and reptiles (including chelonians and crocodiles), two major groups of tetrapods. Amphibian and reptile species are typically old, strongly divergent, and contain deep conspecific lineages which might lead to problems in species assignment with incomplete reference databases. As far as known, there is no single pair of COI primers that will guarantee a sufficient rate of success across all amphibian and reptile taxa, or within major subclades of amphibians and reptiles, which means that the PCR amplification strategy needs to be adjusted depending on the specific research question. In general, many more amphibian and reptile taxa have been sequenced for 16S rDNA, which for some purposes may be a suitable complementary marker, at least until a more comprehensive COI reference database becomes available. DNA barcoding has successfully been used to identify amphibian larval stages (tadpoles) in species-rich tropical assemblages. Tissue sampling, DNA extraction, and amplification of COI is straightforward in amphibians and reptiles. Single primer pairs are likely to have a failure rate between 5 and 50% if taxa of a wide taxonomic range are targeted; in such cases the use of primer cocktails or subsequent hierarchical usage of different primer pairs is necessary. If the target group is taxonomically limited, many studies have followed a strategy of designing specific primers which then allow an easy and reliable amplification of all samples. PMID:22684953

  5. Deciphering the main venom components of the ectoparasitic ant-like bethylid wasp, Scleroderma guani.

    PubMed

    Zhu, Jia-Ying

    2016-04-01

    Similar to venom found in most venomous animals, parasitoid venoms contain a complex cocktail of proteins with potential agrichemical and pharmaceutical use. Even though parasitoids are one of the largest group of venomous animals, little is known about their venom composition. Recent few studies revealed high variated venom composition existing not only in different species but also between closely related strains, impling that increasing information on the venom proteins from more greater diversity of species of different taxa is key to comprehensively uncover the complete picture of parasitoid venom. Here, we explored the major protein components of the venom of ectoparasitic ant-like bethylid wasp, Scleroderma guani by an integrative transcriptomic-proteomic approach. Illumina deep sequencing of venom apparatus cDNA produced 49,873 transcripts. By mapping the peptide spectral data derived from venom reservoir against these transcripts, mass spectrometry analysis revealed ten main venom proteins, including serine proteinase, metalloprotease, dipeptidyl peptidase IV, esterase, antithrombin-III, acid phosphatase, neural/ectodermal development factor IMP-L2 like protein, venom allergen 3, and unknown protein. Interestingly, one serine proteinase was firstly identified with rarely high molecular weight about 200 kDa in parasitoid venom. The occurrence of abundant acid phosphatase, antithrombin-III and venom allergen 3 demonstrated that S. guani venom composition is similar to that of social wasp venoms. All identified venom genes showed abundantly biased expression in venom apparatus, indicating their virulent functions involved in parasitization. This study shed light on the more better understanding of parasitoid venom evolution across species and will facilitate the further elucidation of function and toxicity of these venom proteins. PMID:26853496

  6. Echidna Venom Gland Transcriptome Provides Insights into the Evolution of Monotreme Venom

    PubMed Central

    Wong, Emily S. W.; Nicol, Stewart; Warren, Wesley C.; Belov, Katherine

    2013-01-01

    Monotremes (echidna and platypus) are egg-laying mammals. One of their most unique characteristic is that males have venom/crural glands that are seasonally active. Male platypuses produce venom during the breeding season, delivered via spurs, to aid in competition against other males. Echidnas are not able to erect their spurs, but a milky secretion is produced by the gland during the breeding season. The function and molecular composition of echidna venom is as yet unknown. Hence, we compared the deeply sequenced transcriptome of an in-season echidna crural gland to that of a platypus and searched for putative venom genes to provide clues into the function of echidna venom and the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. We found that the echidna venom gland transcriptome was markedly different from the platypus with no correlation between the top 50 most highly expressed genes. Four peptides found in the venom of the platypus were detected in the echidna transcriptome. However, these genes were not highly expressed in echidna, suggesting that they are the remnants of the evolutionary history of the ancestral venom gland. Gene ontology terms associated with the top 100 most highly expressed genes in echidna, showed functional terms associated with steroidal and fatty acid production, suggesting that echidna “venom” may play a role in scent communication during the breeding season. The loss of the ability to erect the spur and other unknown evolutionary forces acting in the echidna lineage resulted in the gradual decay of venom components and the evolution of a new role for the crural gland. PMID:24265746

  7. Hydra actinoporin-like toxin-1, an unusual hemolysin from the nematocyst venom of Hydra magnipapillata which belongs to an extended gene family.

    PubMed

    Glasser, Eliezra; Rachamim, Tamar; Aharonovich, Dikla; Sher, Daniel

    2014-12-01

    Cnidarians rely on their nematocysts and the venom injected through these unique weaponry systems to catch prey and protect themselves from predators. The development and physiology of the nematocysts of Hydra magnipapillata, a classic model organism, have been intensively studied, yet the composition and biochemical activity of their venom components are mostly unknown. Here, we show that hydra actinoporin-like toxins (HALTs), which have previously been associated with Hydra nematocysts, belong to a multigene family comprising six genes, which have diverged from a single common ancestor. All six genes are expressed in a population of Hydra magnipapillata. When expressed recombinantly, HALT-1 (Δ-HYTX-Hma1a), an actinoporin-like protein found in the stenoteles (the main penetrating nematocysts used in prey capture), reveals hemolytic activity, albeit about two-thirds lower than that of the anemone actinoporin equinatoxin II (EqTII, Δ-AITX-Aeq1a). HALT-1 also differs from EqTII in the size of its pores, and likely does not utilize sphingomyelin as a membrane receptor. We describe features of the HALT-1 sequence which may contribute to this difference in activity, and speculate on the role of this unusual family of pore-forming toxins in the ecology of Hydra. PMID:24768765

  8. Are ticks venomous animals?

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Introduction As an ecological adaptation venoms have evolved independently in several species of Metazoa. As haematophagous arthropods ticks are mainly considered as ectoparasites due to directly feeding on the skin of animal hosts. Ticks are of major importance since they serve as vectors for several diseases affecting humans and livestock animals. Ticks are rarely considered as venomous animals despite that tick saliva contains several protein families present in venomous taxa and that many Ixodida genera can induce paralysis and other types of toxicoses. Tick saliva was previously proposed as a special kind of venom since tick venom is used for blood feeding that counteracts host defense mechanisms. As a result, the present study provides evidence to reconsider the venomous properties of tick saliva. Results Based on our extensive literature mining and in silico research, we demonstrate that ticks share several similarities with other venomous taxa. Many tick salivary protein families and their previously described functions are homologous to proteins found in scorpion, spider, snake, platypus and bee venoms. This infers that there is a structural and functional convergence between several molecular components in tick saliva and the venoms from other recognized venomous taxa. We also highlight the fact that the immune response against tick saliva and venoms (from recognized venomous taxa) are both dominated by an allergic immunity background. Furthermore, by comparing the major molecular components of human saliva, as an example of a non-venomous animal, with that of ticks we find evidence that ticks resemble more venomous than non-venomous animals. Finally, we introduce our considerations regarding the evolution of venoms in Arachnida. Conclusions Taking into account the composition of tick saliva, the venomous functions that ticks have while interacting with their hosts, and the distinguishable differences between human (non-venomous) and tick salivary

  9. Venomous Animals and Their Victims: A Program for Sophomore Medical Students

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Daly, James J.

    1977-01-01

    In the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences program, lectures are given on the recognition and general biology of dangerous reptiles and anthropods, the nature of animal venoms, immunological aspects of envenomation, and treatment of bites and stings. Both first-aid and clinical management are included. (Author/LBH)

  10. [Venomous spiders and their venoms].

    PubMed

    Schmidt, G

    1985-01-01

    The history of araneidism is long and confusing. The superstition seems to be inexterminatable that tropical mygalomorphs and mediterranean tarantulas are dangerous for humans. It can be looked up even in the most recent edition of the widespread clinical dictionary of Pschyrembel. In contrast to this certain ctenids, the most dangerous spiders up to now known, are mentioned not at all in medical publications. Exaggerated spider-fear is out of place because about 0.1% of all species are dangerous for man only and many of the venomous species live as hidden as they scarcely come in contact with humans. PMID:3895572

  11. Hymenoptera allergens: from venom to "venome".

    PubMed

    Spillner, Edzard; Blank, Simon; Jakob, Thilo

    2014-01-01

    In Western Europe, Hymenoptera venom allergy (HVA) primarily relates to venoms of the honeybee and the common yellow jacket. In contrast to other allergen sources, only a few major components of Hymenoptera venoms had been characterized until recently. Improved expression systems and proteomic detection strategies have allowed the identification and characterization of a wide range of additional allergens. The field of HVA research has moved rapidly from focusing on venom extract and single major allergens to a molecular understanding of the entire "venome" as a system of unique and characteristic components. An increasing number of such components has been identified, characterized regarding function, and assessed for allergenic potential. Moreover, advanced expression strategies for recombinant production of venom allergens allow selective modification of molecules and provide insight into different types of immunoglobulin E reactivities and sensitization patterns. The obtained information contributes to an increased diagnostic precision in HVA and may serve for monitoring, re-evaluation, and improvement of current therapeutic strategies. PMID:24616722

  12. Covering the Plane with Rep-Tiles.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Fosnaugh, Linda S.; Harrell, Marvin E.

    1996-01-01

    Presents an activity in which students use geometric figures, rep-tiles, to design a tile floor. Rep-tiles are geometric figures of which copies can fit together to form a larger similar figure. Includes reproducible student worksheet. (MKR)

  13. Ovodefensins, an Oviduct-Specific Antimicrobial Gene Family, Have Evolved in Birds and Reptiles to Protect the Egg by Both Sequence and Intra-Six-Cysteine Sequence Motif Spacing.

    PubMed

    Whenham, Natasha; Lu, Tian Chee; Maidin, Maisarah B M; Wilson, Peter W; Bain, Maureen M; Stevenson, M Lynn; Stevens, Mark P; Bedford, Michael R; Dunn, Ian C

    2015-06-01

    Ovodefensins are a novel beta defensin-related family of antimicrobial peptides containing conserved glycine and six cysteine residues. Originally thought to be restricted to the albumen-producing region of the avian oviduct, expression was found in chicken, turkey, duck, and zebra finch in large quantities in many parts of the oviduct, but this varied between species and between gene forms in the same species. Using new search strategies, the ovodefensin family now has 35 members, including reptiles, but no representatives outside birds and reptiles have been found. Analysis of their evolution shows that ovodefensins divide into six groups based on the intra-cysteine amino acid spacing, representing a unique mechanism alongside traditional evolution of sequence. The groups have been used to base a nomenclature for the family. Antimicrobial activity for three ovodefensins from chicken and duck was confirmed against Escherichia coli and a pathogenic E. coli strain as well as a Gram-positive organism, Staphylococcus aureus, for the first time. However, activity varied greatly between peptides, with Gallus gallus OvoDA1 being the most potent, suggesting a link with the different structures. Expression of Gallus gallus OvoDA1 (gallin) in the oviduct was increased by estrogen and progesterone and in the reproductive state. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that ovodefensins evolved to protect the egg, but they are not necessarily restricted to the egg white. Therefore, divergent motif structure and sequence present an interesting area of research for antimicrobial peptide design and understanding protection of the cleidoic egg. PMID:25972010

  14. Ecotoxicology of Amphibians and Reptiles

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    2000-01-01

    For many years, ecological research on amphibians and reptiles has lagged behind that of other vertebrates such as fishes, birds, and mammals, despite the known importance of these animals in their environments. The lack of study has been particularly acute in the he area of ecotoxicology where the number of published scientific papers is a fraction of that found for the other vertebrate classes. Recently, scientists have become aware of severe crises among amphibian populations, including unexplained and sudden extinctions, worldwide declines, and hideous malformations. In many of these instances, contaminants have been listed as probable contributors. Data on the effects of contaminants on reptiles are so depauperate that even the most elementary interpretations are difficult. This state-of-the-science review and synthesis of amphibian and reptile ecotoxicology demonstrates the inter-relationships among distribution, ecology, physiology, and contaminant exposure, and interprets these topics as they pertain to comparative toxicity, population declines, malformations, and risk assessment . In this way, the book identifies and serves as a basis for the most pressing research needs in the coming years. The editors have invited 27 other internationally respected experts to examine the state of existing data in specific areas, interpret it in light of current problems, and identify research gaps and needs. Through its emphasis on recent research, extensive reviews and synthesis, Ecotoxicology of Amphibians and Reptiles will remain a definitive reference work well into the new century.

  15. Plectreurys tristis venome: A proteomic and transcriptomic analysis

    PubMed Central

    Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A; Thomas, Emily Z; David, Cynthia L; Breci, Linda A; Binford, Greta J

    2014-01-01

    Spider venoms are complex cocktails rich in peptides, proteins and organic molecules that collectively act to immobilize prey. Venoms of the primitive hunting spider, Plectreurys tristis, have numerous neurotoxic peptides called “plectoxins” (PLTX), a unique acylpolyamine called bis(agmatine)oxalamide, and larger unidentified protein components. These spiders also have unconventional multi-lobed venom glands. Inspired by these unusual characteristics and their phylogenetic position as Haplogynes, we have partially characterized the venome of P. tristis using combined transcriptomic and proteomic methods. With these analyses we found known venom neurotoxins U1-PLTX-Pt1a, U3-PLTX-Pt1a, and we discovered new groups of potential neurotoxins, expanding the U1- and ω-PLTX families and adding U4-through U9-PLTX as six new groups. The venom also contains proteins that are homologs of astacin metalloproteases that, combined with venom peptides, make up 94% of components detected in crude venom, while the remaining 6% is a single undescribed protein with unknown function. Other proteins detected in the transcriptome were found to be members of conserved gene families and make up 20% of the transcripts. These include cDNA sequences that match venom proteins from Mesobuthus and Hottentotta scorpions, Loxosceles and Dysdera spiders, and also salivary and secreted peptide sequences from Ixodes, Amblyomma and Rhipicephalus ticks. Finally, we show that crude venom has neurotoxic effects and an effective paralytic dose on crickets of 3.3µg/gm. PMID:25400903

  16. Medically important differences in snake venom composition are dictated by distinct postgenomic mechanisms.

    PubMed

    Casewell, Nicholas R; Wagstaff, Simon C; Wüster, Wolfgang; Cook, Darren A N; Bolton, Fiona M S; King, Sarah I; Pla, Davinia; Sanz, Libia; Calvete, Juan J; Harrison, Robert A

    2014-06-24

    Variation in venom composition is a ubiquitous phenomenon in snakes and occurs both interspecifically and intraspecifically. Venom variation can have severe outcomes for snakebite victims by rendering the specific antibodies found in antivenoms ineffective against heterologous toxins found in different venoms. The rapid evolutionary expansion of different toxin-encoding gene families in different snake lineages is widely perceived as the main cause of venom variation. However, this view is simplistic and disregards the understudied influence that processes acting on gene transcription and translation may have on the production of the venom proteome. Here, we assess the venom composition of six related viperid snakes and compare interspecific changes in the number of toxin genes, their transcription in the venom gland, and their translation into proteins secreted in venom. Our results reveal that multiple levels of regulation are responsible for generating variation in venom composition between related snake species. We demonstrate that differential levels of toxin transcription, translation, and their posttranslational modification have a substantial impact upon the resulting venom protein mixture. Notably, these processes act to varying extents on different toxin paralogs found in different snakes and are therefore likely to be as important as ancestral gene duplication events for generating compositionally distinct venom proteomes. Our results suggest that these processes may also contribute to altering the toxicity of snake venoms, and we demonstrate how this variability can undermine the treatment of a neglected tropical disease, snakebite. PMID:24927555

  17. Medically important differences in snake venom composition are dictated by distinct postgenomic mechanisms

    PubMed Central

    Casewell, Nicholas R.; Wagstaff, Simon C.; Wüster, Wolfgang; Cook, Darren A. N.; Bolton, Fiona M. S.; King, Sarah I.; Pla, Davinia; Sanz, Libia; Calvete, Juan J.; Harrison, Robert A.

    2014-01-01

    Variation in venom composition is a ubiquitous phenomenon in snakes and occurs both interspecifically and intraspecifically. Venom variation can have severe outcomes for snakebite victims by rendering the specific antibodies found in antivenoms ineffective against heterologous toxins found in different venoms. The rapid evolutionary expansion of different toxin-encoding gene families in different snake lineages is widely perceived as the main cause of venom variation. However, this view is simplistic and disregards the understudied influence that processes acting on gene transcription and translation may have on the production of the venom proteome. Here, we assess the venom composition of six related viperid snakes and compare interspecific changes in the number of toxin genes, their transcription in the venom gland, and their translation into proteins secreted in venom. Our results reveal that multiple levels of regulation are responsible for generating variation in venom composition between related snake species. We demonstrate that differential levels of toxin transcription, translation, and their posttranslational modification have a substantial impact upon the resulting venom protein mixture. Notably, these processes act to varying extents on different toxin paralogs found in different snakes and are therefore likely to be as important as ancestral gene duplication events for generating compositionally distinct venom proteomes. Our results suggest that these processes may also contribute to altering the toxicity of snake venoms, and we demonstrate how this variability can undermine the treatment of a neglected tropical disease, snakebite. PMID:24927555

  18. Systematic interrogation of the Conus marmoreus venom duct transcriptome with ConoSorter reveals 158 novel conotoxins and 13 new gene superfamilies

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Conopeptides, often generically referred to as conotoxins, are small neurotoxins found in the venom of predatory marine cone snails. These molecules are highly stable and are able to efficiently and selectively interact with a wide variety of heterologous receptors and channels, making them valuable pharmacological probes and potential drug leads. Recent advances in next-generation RNA sequencing and high-throughput proteomics have led to the generation of large data sets that require purpose-built and dedicated bioinformatics tools for efficient data mining. Results Here we describe ConoSorter, an algorithm that categorizes cDNA or protein sequences into conopeptide superfamilies and classes based on their signal, pro- and mature region sequence composition. ConoSorter also catalogues key sequence characteristics (including relative sequence frequency, length, number of cysteines, N-terminal hydrophobicity, sequence similarity score) and automatically searches the ConoServer database for known precursor sequences, facilitating identification of known and novel conopeptides. When applied to ConoServer and UniProtKB/Swiss-Prot databases, ConoSorter is able to recognize 100% of known conotoxin superfamilies and classes with a minimum species specificity of 99%. As a proof of concept, we performed a reanalysis of Conus marmoreus venom duct transcriptome and (i) correctly classified all sequences previously annotated, (ii) identified 158 novel precursor conopeptide transcripts, 106 of which were confirmed by protein mass spectrometry, and (iii) identified another 13 novel conotoxin gene superfamilies. Conclusions Taken together, these findings indicate that ConoSorter is not only capable of robust classification of known conopeptides from large RNA data sets, but can also facilitate de novo identification of conopeptides which may have pharmaceutical importance. PMID:24131469

  19. The toxicogenomic multiverse: convergent recruitment of proteins into animal venoms.

    PubMed

    Fry, Bryan G; Roelants, Kim; Champagne, Donald E; Scheib, Holger; Tyndall, Joel D A; King, Glenn F; Nevalainen, Timo J; Norman, Janette A; Lewis, Richard J; Norton, Raymond S; Renjifo, Camila; de la Vega, Ricardo C Rodríguez

    2009-01-01

    Throughout evolution, numerous proteins have been convergently recruited into the venoms of various animals, including centipedes, cephalopods, cone snails, fish, insects (several independent venom systems), platypus, scorpions, shrews, spiders, toxicoferan reptiles (lizards and snakes), and sea anemones. The protein scaffolds utilized convergently have included AVIT/colipase/prokineticin, CAP, chitinase, cystatin, defensins, hyaluronidase, Kunitz, lectin, lipocalin, natriuretic peptide, peptidase S1, phospholipase A(2), sphingomyelinase D, and SPRY. Many of these same venom protein types have also been convergently recruited for use in the hematophagous gland secretions of invertebrates (e.g., fleas, leeches, kissing bugs, mosquitoes, and ticks) and vertebrates (e.g., vampire bats). Here, we discuss a number of overarching structural, functional, and evolutionary generalities of the protein families from which these toxins have been frequently recruited and propose a revised and expanded working definition for venom. Given the large number of striking similarities between the protein compositions of conventional venoms and hematophagous secretions, we argue that the latter should also fall under the same definition. PMID:19640225

  20. Target tracking during venom ‘spitting’ by cobras

    PubMed Central

    Westhoff, Guido; Boetig, Melissa; Bleckmann, Horst; Young, Bruce A.

    2010-01-01

    Spitting cobras, which defend themselves by streaming venom towards the face and/or eyes of a predator, must be highly accurate because the venom they spit is only an effective deterrent if it lands on the predator's cornea. Several factors make this level of accuracy difficult to achieve; the target is moving, is frequently >1 m away from the snake and the venom stream is released in approximately 50 ms. In the present study we show that spitting cobras can accurately track the movements of a potentially threatening vertebrate, and by anticipating its subsequent (short-term) movements direct their venom to maximize the likelihood of striking the target's eye. Unlike other animals that project material, in spitting cobras the discharge orifice (the fang) is relatively fixed so directing the venom stream requires rapid movements of the entire head. The cobra's ability to track and anticipate the target's movement, and to perform rapid cephalic oscillations that coordinate with the target's movements suggest a level of neural processing that has not been attributed to snakes, or other reptiles, previously. PMID:20472765

  1. The genesis of an exceptionally lethal venom in the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) revealed through comparative venom-gland transcriptomics

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Snake venoms generally show sequence and quantitative variation within and between species, but some rattlesnakes have undergone exceptionally rapid, dramatic shifts in the composition, lethality, and pharmacological effects of their venoms. Such shifts have occurred within species, most notably in Mojave (Crotalus scutulatus), South American (C. durissus), and timber (C. horridus) rattlesnakes, resulting in some populations with extremely potent, neurotoxic venoms without the hemorrhagic effects typical of rattlesnake bites. Results To better understand the evolutionary changes that resulted in the potent venom of a population of C. horridus from northern Florida, we sequenced the venom-gland transcriptome of an animal from this population for comparison with the previously described transcriptome of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (C. adamanteus), a congener with a more typical rattlesnake venom. Relative to the toxin transcription of C. adamanteus, which consisted primarily of snake-venom metalloproteinases, C-type lectins, snake-venom serine proteinases, and myotoxin-A, the toxin transcription of C. horridus was far simpler in composition and consisted almost entirely of snake-venom serine proteinases, phospholipases A2, and bradykinin-potentiating and C-type natriuretic peptides. Crotalus horridus lacked significant expression of the hemorrhagic snake-venom metalloproteinases and C-type lectins. Evolution of shared toxin families involved differential expansion and loss of toxin clades within each species and pronounced differences in the highly expressed toxin paralogs. Toxin genes showed significantly higher rates of nonsynonymous substitution than nontoxin genes. The expression patterns of nontoxin genes were conserved between species, despite the vast differences in toxin expression. Conclusions Our results represent the first complete, sequence-based comparison between the venoms of closely related snake species and reveal in unprecedented

  2. Environmental sex determination mechanisms in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Merchant-Larios, H; Díaz-Hernández, V

    2013-01-01

    Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) was first discovered in reptiles. Since then, a great diversity of sex-determining responses to temperature has been reported. Higher temperatures can produce either males or females, and the temperature ranges and lengths of exposure that influence TSD are remarkably variable among species. In addition, transitory gene regulatory networks leading to gonadal TSD have evolved. Although most genes involved in gonadal development are conserved in vertebrates, including TSD species, temporal and spatial gene expression patterns vary among species. Despite variation in TSD pattern and gene expression heterochrony, the structural framework, the medullary cords, and cortex of the bipotential gonad have been strongly conserved. Aromatase (CYP19), which regulates gonadal estrogen levels, is proposed to be the main target of a putative thermosensitive factor for TSD. However, manipulation of estrogen levels rarely mimics the precise timing of temperature effects on expression of gonadal genes, as occurs with TSD. Estrogen levels may influence sex determination or gonad differentiation depending on the species. Furthermore, the process leading to sex determination under the influence of temperature poses problems that are not encountered by species with genetic sex determination. Yolk steroids of maternal origin and steroids produced by the embryonic nervous system should also be considered as sources of hormones that may play a role in TSD. PMID:22948613

  3. Functional and Structural Diversification of the Anguimorpha Lizard Venom System*

    PubMed Central

    Fry, Bryan G.; Winter, Kelly; Norman, Janette A.; Roelants, Kim; Nabuurs, Rob J. A.; van Osch, Matthias J. P.; Teeuwisse, Wouter M.; van der Weerd, Louise; Mcnaughtan, Judith E.; Kwok, Hang Fai; Scheib, Holger; Greisman, Laura; Kochva, Elazar; Miller, Laurence J.; Gao, Fan; Karas, John; Scanlon, Denis; Lin, Feng; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Shaw, Chris; Wong, Lily; Hodgson, Wayne C.

    2010-01-01

    Venom has only been recently discovered to be a basal trait of the Anguimorpha lizards. Consequently, very little is known about the timings of toxin recruitment events, venom protein molecular evolution, or even the relative physical diversifications of the venom system itself. A multidisciplinary approach was used to examine the evolution across the full taxonomical range of this ∼130 million-year-old clade. Analysis of cDNA libraries revealed complex venom transcriptomes. Most notably, three new cardioactive peptide toxin types were discovered (celestoxin, cholecystokinin, and YY peptides). The latter two represent additional examples of convergent use of genes in toxic arsenals, both having previously been documented as components of frog skin defensive chemical secretions. Two other novel venom gland-overexpressed modified versions of other protein frameworks were also recovered from the libraries (epididymal secretory protein and ribonuclease). Lectin, hyaluronidase, and veficolin toxin types were sequenced for the first time from lizard venoms and shown to be homologous to the snake venom forms. In contrast, phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that the lizard natriuretic peptide toxins were recruited independently of the form in snake venoms. The de novo evolution of helokinestatin peptide toxin encoding domains within the lizard venom natriuretic gene was revealed to be exclusive to the helodermatid/anguid subclade. New isoforms were sequenced for cysteine-rich secretory protein, kallikrein, and phospholipase A2 toxins. Venom gland morphological analysis revealed extensive evolutionary tinkering. Anguid glands are characterized by thin capsules and mixed glands, serous at the bottom of the lobule and mucous toward the apex. Twice, independently this arrangement was segregated into specialized serous protein-secreting glands with thick capsules with the mucous lobules now distinct (Heloderma and the Lanthanotus/Varanus clade). The results obtained highlight

  4. Integrative Approach Reveals Composition of Endoparasitoid Wasp Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Mobley, James A.; Bowersock, Gregory J.; Taylor, James; Schlenke, Todd A.

    2013-01-01

    The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its endoparasitoid wasps are a developing model system for interactions between host immune responses and parasite virulence mechanisms. In this system, wasps use diverse venom cocktails to suppress the conserved fly cellular encapsulation response. Although numerous genetic tools allow detailed characterization of fly immune genes, lack of wasp genomic information has hindered characterization of the parasite side of the interaction. Here, we use high-throughput nucleic acid and amino acid sequencing methods to describe the venoms of two related Drosophila endoparasitoids with distinct infection strategies, Leptopilina boulardi and L. heterotoma. Using RNA-seq, we assembled and quantified libraries of transcript sequences from female wasp abdomens. Next, we used mass spectrometry to sequence peptides derived from dissected venom gland lumens. We then mapped the peptide spectral data against the abdomen transcriptomes to identify a set of putative venom genes for each wasp species. Our approach captured the three venom genes previously characterized in L. boulardi by traditional cDNA cloning methods as well as numerous new venom genes that were subsequently validated by a combination of RT-PCR, blast comparisons, and secretion signal sequence search. Overall, 129 proteins were found to comprise L. boulardi venom and 176 proteins were found to comprise L. heterotoma venom. We found significant overlap in L. boulardi and L. heterotoma venom composition but also distinct differences that may underlie their unique infection strategies. Our joint transcriptomic-proteomic approach for endoparasitoid wasp venoms is generally applicable to identification of functional protein subsets from any non-genome sequenced organism. PMID:23717546

  5. Integrative approach reveals composition of endoparasitoid wasp venoms.

    PubMed

    Goecks, Jeremy; Mortimer, Nathan T; Mobley, James A; Bowersock, Gregory J; Taylor, James; Schlenke, Todd A

    2013-01-01

    The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and its endoparasitoid wasps are a developing model system for interactions between host immune responses and parasite virulence mechanisms. In this system, wasps use diverse venom cocktails to suppress the conserved fly cellular encapsulation response. Although numerous genetic tools allow detailed characterization of fly immune genes, lack of wasp genomic information has hindered characterization of the parasite side of the interaction. Here, we use high-throughput nucleic acid and amino acid sequencing methods to describe the venoms of two related Drosophila endoparasitoids with distinct infection strategies, Leptopilina boulardi and L. heterotoma. Using RNA-seq, we assembled and quantified libraries of transcript sequences from female wasp abdomens. Next, we used mass spectrometry to sequence peptides derived from dissected venom gland lumens. We then mapped the peptide spectral data against the abdomen transcriptomes to identify a set of putative venom genes for each wasp species. Our approach captured the three venom genes previously characterized in L. boulardi by traditional cDNA cloning methods as well as numerous new venom genes that were subsequently validated by a combination of RT-PCR, blast comparisons, and secretion signal sequence search. Overall, 129 proteins were found to comprise L. boulardi venom and 176 proteins were found to comprise L. heterotoma venom. We found significant overlap in L. boulardi and L. heterotoma venom composition but also distinct differences that may underlie their unique infection strategies. Our joint transcriptomic-proteomic approach for endoparasitoid wasp venoms is generally applicable to identification of functional protein subsets from any non-genome sequenced organism. PMID:23717546

  6. Spider genomes provide insight into composition and evolution of venom and silk.

    PubMed

    Sanggaard, Kristian W; Bechsgaard, Jesper S; Fang, Xiaodong; Duan, Jinjie; Dyrlund, Thomas F; Gupta, Vikas; Jiang, Xuanting; Cheng, Ling; Fan, Dingding; Feng, Yue; Han, Lijuan; Huang, Zhiyong; Wu, Zongze; Liao, Li; Settepani, Virginia; Thøgersen, Ida B; Vanthournout, Bram; Wang, Tobias; Zhu, Yabing; Funch, Peter; Enghild, Jan J; Schauser, Leif; Andersen, Stig U; Villesen, Palle; Schierup, Mikkel H; Bilde, Trine; Wang, Jun

    2014-01-01

    Spiders are ecologically important predators with complex venom and extraordinarily tough silk that enables capture of large prey. Here we present the assembled genome of the social velvet spider and a draft assembly of the tarantula genome that represent two major taxonomic groups of spiders. The spider genomes are large with short exons and long introns, reminiscent of mammalian genomes. Phylogenetic analyses place spiders and ticks as sister groups supporting polyphyly of the Acari. Complex sets of venom and silk genes/proteins are identified. We find that venom genes evolved by sequential duplication, and that the toxic effect of venom is most likely activated by proteases present in the venom. The set of silk genes reveals a highly dynamic gene evolution, new types of silk genes and proteins, and a novel use of aciniform silk. These insights create new opportunities for pharmacological applications of venom and biomaterial applications of silk. PMID:24801114

  7. Spider genomes provide insight into composition and evolution of venom and silk

    PubMed Central

    Sanggaard, Kristian W.; Bechsgaard, Jesper S.; Fang, Xiaodong; Duan, Jinjie; Dyrlund, Thomas F.; Gupta, Vikas; Jiang, Xuanting; Cheng, Ling; Fan, Dingding; Feng, Yue; Han, Lijuan; Huang, Zhiyong; Wu, Zongze; Liao, Li; Settepani, Virginia; Thøgersen, Ida B.; Vanthournout, Bram; Wang, Tobias; Zhu, Yabing; Funch, Peter; Enghild, Jan J.; Schauser, Leif; Andersen, Stig U.; Villesen, Palle; Schierup, Mikkel H; Bilde, Trine; Wang, Jun

    2014-01-01

    Spiders are ecologically important predators with complex venom and extraordinarily tough silk that enables capture of large prey. Here we present the assembled genome of the social velvet spider and a draft assembly of the tarantula genome that represent two major taxonomic groups of spiders. The spider genomes are large with short exons and long introns, reminiscent of mammalian genomes. Phylogenetic analyses place spiders and ticks as sister groups supporting polyphyly of the Acari. Complex sets of venom and silk genes/proteins are identified. We find that venom genes evolved by sequential duplication, and that the toxic effect of venom is most likely activated by proteases present in the venom. The set of silk genes reveals a highly dynamic gene evolution, new types of silk genes and proteins, and a novel use of aciniform silk. These insights create new opportunities for pharmacological applications of venom and biomaterial applications of silk. PMID:24801114

  8. Melanophoromas and iridophoromas in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Heckers, K O; Aupperle, H; Schmidt, V; Pees, M

    2012-01-01

    Chromatophoromas are tumours of pigment-producing cells of the skin and are rarely reported in reptiles. These tumours are subclassified on the basis of the type of pigment. The present study characterizes chromatophoromas arising in 26 reptiles, including six snakes, 19 lizards and a tortoise. These include the first reports of melanophoromas in a yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus), pigmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus spp.), southern water snake (Nerodia fasciata), veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) and leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius); the first reports of benign iridophoromas in a savannah monitor (Varanus exanthematicus), veiled chameleon and bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps); and the first description of a malignant iridophoroma in a bearded dragon. Additionally, in three bearded dragons a 'mucinous' type of melanophoroma is described for the first time. Chromatophoromas generally arose from the skin of the body and head and ranged in size from 0.2 to 2.0cm in diameter. In six cases the animals were humanely destroyed immediately after diagnosis. Three further animals were humanely destroyed following recurrence of their tumour. Six of these nine reptiles had visceral metastases. Grossly, melanophoromas (n=20) were grey or black, while iridophoromas (n=6) were white in colour. Microscopically, most of the tumours were composed of spindle cells with varying pigmentation and 0-2 mitoses per 10 high power fields. Six of the 20 melanophoromas were classified as malignant due to the presence of intravascular tumour cells, visceral metastases, high pleomorphism and/or mitotic figures. Five of the six iridophoromas were classified as benign and the one malignant tumour was defined by the presence of intravascular tumour cells and visceral metastases. Immunohistochemically, melan A and S100 were coexpressed by all of the chromatophoromas. PMID:21864845

  9. Characterization of a Gene Coding for the Complement System Component FB from Loxosceles laeta Spider Venom Glands.

    PubMed

    Myamoto, Daniela Tiemi; Pidde-Queiroz, Giselle; Gonçalves-de-Andrade, Rute Maria; Pedroso, Aurélio; van den Berg, Carmen W; Tambourgi, Denise V

    2016-01-01

    The human complement system is composed of more than 30 proteins and many of these have conserved domains that allow tracing the phylogenetic evolution. The complement system seems to be initiated with the appearance of C3 and factor B (FB), the only components found in some protostomes and cnidarians, suggesting that the alternative pathway is the most ancient. Here, we present the characterization of an arachnid homologue of the human complement component FB from the spider Loxosceles laeta. This homologue, named Lox-FB, was identified from a total RNA L. laeta spider venom gland library and was amplified using RACE-PCR techniques and specific primers. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence and the domain structure showed significant similarity to the vertebrate and invertebrate FB/C2 family proteins. Lox-FB has a classical domain organization composed of a control complement protein domain (CCP), a von Willebrand Factor domain (vWFA), and a serine protease domain (SP). The amino acids involved in Mg2+ metal ion dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) found in the vWFA domain in the vertebrate C2/FB proteins are well conserved; however, the classic catalytic triad present in the serine protease domain is not conserved in Lox-FB. Similarity and phylogenetic analyses indicated that Lox-FB shares a major identity (43%) and has a close evolutionary relationship with the third isoform of FB-like protein (FB-3) from the jumping spider Hasarius adansoni belonging to the Family Salcitidae. PMID:26771533

  10. Characterization of a Gene Coding for the Complement System Component FB from Loxosceles laeta Spider Venom Glands

    PubMed Central

    Myamoto, Daniela Tiemi; Pidde-Queiroz, Giselle; Gonçalves-de-Andrade, Rute Maria; Pedroso, Aurélio; van den Berg, Carmen W.; Tambourgi, Denise V.

    2016-01-01

    The human complement system is composed of more than 30 proteins and many of these have conserved domains that allow tracing the phylogenetic evolution. The complement system seems to be initiated with the appearance of C3 and factor B (FB), the only components found in some protostomes and cnidarians, suggesting that the alternative pathway is the most ancient. Here, we present the characterization of an arachnid homologue of the human complement component FB from the spider Loxosceles laeta. This homologue, named Lox-FB, was identified from a total RNA L. laeta spider venom gland library and was amplified using RACE-PCR techniques and specific primers. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence and the domain structure showed significant similarity to the vertebrate and invertebrate FB/C2 family proteins. Lox-FB has a classical domain organization composed of a control complement protein domain (CCP), a von Willebrand Factor domain (vWFA), and a serine protease domain (SP). The amino acids involved in Mg2+ metal ion dependent adhesion site (MIDAS) found in the vWFA domain in the vertebrate C2/FB proteins are well conserved; however, the classic catalytic triad present in the serine protease domain is not conserved in Lox-FB. Similarity and phylogenetic analyses indicated that Lox-FB shares a major identity (43%) and has a close evolutionary relationship with the third isoform of FB-like protein (FB-3) from the jumping spider Hasarius adansoni belonging to the Family Salcitidae. PMID:26771533

  11. Insights into the evolution of mammalian telomerase: Platypus TERT shares similarities with genes of birds and other reptiles and localizes on sex chromosomes

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background The TERT gene encodes the catalytic subunit of the telomerase complex and is responsible for maintaining telomere length. Vertebrate telomerase has been studied in eutherian mammals, fish, and the chicken, but less attention has been paid to other vertebrates. The platypus occupies an important evolutionary position, providing unique insight into the evolution of mammalian genes. We report the cloning of a platypus TERT (OanTERT) ortholog, and provide a comparison with genes of other vertebrates. Results The OanTERT encodes a protein with a high sequence similarity to marsupial TERT and avian TERT. Like the TERT of sauropsids and marsupials, as well as that of sharks and echinoderms, OanTERT contains extended variable linkers in the N-terminal region suggesting that they were present already in basal vertebrates and lost independently in ray-finned fish and eutherian mammals. Several alternatively spliced OanTERT variants structurally similar to avian TERT variants were identified. Telomerase activity is expressed in all platypus tissues like that of cold-blooded animals and murine rodents. OanTERT was localized on pseudoautosomal regions of sex chromosomes X3/Y2, expanding the homology between human chromosome 5 and platypus sex chromosomes. Synteny analysis suggests that TERT co-localized with sex-linked genes in the last common mammalian ancestor. Interestingly, female platypuses express higher levels of telomerase in heart and liver tissues than do males. Conclusions OanTERT shares many features with TERT of the reptilian outgroup, suggesting that OanTERT represents the ancestral mammalian TERT. Features specific to TERT of eutherian mammals have, therefore, evolved more recently after the divergence of monotremes. PMID:22655747

  12. Suitability of amphibians and reptiles for translocation.

    PubMed

    Germano, Jennifer M; Bishop, Phillip J

    2009-02-01

    Translocations are important tools in the field of conservation. Despite increased use over the last few decades, the appropriateness of translocations for amphibians and reptiles has been debated widely over the past 20 years. To provide a comprehensive evaluation of the suitability of amphibians and reptiles for translocation, we reviewed the results of amphibian and reptile translocation projects published between 1991 and 2006. The success rate of amphibian and reptile translocations reported over this period was twice that reported in an earlier review in 1991. Success and failure rates were independent of the taxonomic class (Amphibia or Reptilia) released. Reptile translocations driven by human-wildlife conflict mitigation had a higher failure rate than those motivated by conservation, and more recent projects of reptile translocations had unknown outcomes. The outcomes of amphibian translocations were significantly related to the number of animals released, with projects releasing over 1000 individuals being most successful. The most common reported causes of translocation failure were homing and migration of introduced individuals out of release sites and poor habitat. The increased success of amphibian and reptile translocations reviewed in this study compared with the 1991 review is encouraging for future conservation projects. Nevertheless, more preparation, monitoring, reporting of results, and experimental testing of techniques and reintroduction questions need to occur to improve translocations of amphibians and reptiles as a whole. PMID:19143783

  13. Whole Transcriptome of the Venom Gland from Urodacus yaschenkoi Scorpion

    PubMed Central

    Juárez-González, Víctor Rivelino; Possani, Lourival D.

    2015-01-01

    Australian scorpion venoms have been poorly studied, probably because they do not pose an evident threat to humans. In addition, the continent has other medically important venomous animals capable of causing serious health problems. Urodacus yaschenkoi belongs to the most widely distributed family of Australian scorpions (Urodacidae) and it is found all over the continent, making it a useful model system for studying venom composition and evolution. This communication reports the whole set of mRNA transcripts produced by the venom gland. U. yaschenkoi venom is as complex as its overseas counterparts. These transcripts certainly code for several components similar to known scorpion venom components, such as: alpha-KTxs, beta-KTxs, calcins, protease inhibitors, antimicrobial peptides, sodium-channel toxins, toxin-like peptides, allergens, La1-like, hyaluronidases, ribosomal proteins, proteasome components and proteins related to cellular processes. A comparison with the venom gland transcriptome of Centruroides noxius (Buthidae) showed that these two scorpions have similar components related to biological processes, although important differences occur among the venom toxins. In contrast, a comparison with sequences reported for Urodacus manicatus revealed that these two Urodacidae species possess the same subfamily of scorpion toxins. A comparison with sequences of an U. yaschenkoi cDNA library previously reported by our group showed that both techniques are reliable for the description of the venom components, but the whole transcriptome generated with Next Generation Sequencing platform provides sequences of all transcripts expressed. Several of which were identified in the proteome, but many more transcripts were identified including uncommon transcripts. The information reported here constitutes a reference for non-Buthidae scorpion venoms, providing a comprehensive view of genes that are involved in venom production. Further, this work identifies new putative

  14. Laboratory Reptile Surgery: Principles and Techniques

    PubMed Central

    Alworth, Leanne C; Hernandez, Sonia M; Divers, Stephen J

    2011-01-01

    Reptiles used for research and instruction may require surgical procedures, including biopsy, coelomic device implantation, ovariectomy, orchidectomy, and esophogostomy tube placement, to accomplish research goals. Providing veterinary care for unanticipated clinical problems may require surgical techniques such as amputation, bone or shell fracture repair, and coeliotomy. Although many principles of surgery are common between mammals and reptiles, important differences in anatomy and physiology exist. Veterinarians who provide care for these species should be aware of these differences. Most reptiles undergoing surgery are small and require specific instrumentation and positioning. In addition, because of the wide variety of unique physiologic and anatomic characteristics among snakes, chelonians, and lizards, different techniques may be necessary for different reptiles. This overview describes many common reptile surgery techniques and their application for research purposes or to provide medical care to research subjects. PMID:21333158

  15. Venom-related transcripts from Bothrops jararaca tissues provide novel molecular insights into the production and evolution of snake venom.

    PubMed

    Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio L M; Bastos, Carolina Mancini Val; Ho, Paulo Lee; Luna, Milene Schmidt; Yamanouye, Norma; Casewell, Nicholas R

    2015-03-01

    Attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary history of snake toxins in the context of their co-option to the venom gland rarely account for nonvenom snake genes that are paralogous to toxins, and which therefore represent important connectors to ancestral genes. In order to reevaluate this process, we conducted a comparative transcriptomic survey on body tissues from a venomous snake. A nonredundant set of 33,000 unigenes (assembled transcripts of reference genes) was independently assembled from six organs of the medically important viperid snake Bothrops jararaca, providing a reference list of 82 full-length toxins from the venom gland and specific products from other tissues, such as pancreatic digestive enzymes. Unigenes were then screened for nontoxin transcripts paralogous to toxins revealing 1) low level coexpression of approximately 20% of toxin genes (e.g., bradykinin-potentiating peptide, C-type lectin, snake venom metalloproteinase, snake venom nerve growth factor) in body tissues, 2) the identity of the closest paralogs to toxin genes in eight classes of toxins, 3) the location and level of paralog expression, indicating that, in general, co-expression occurs in a higher number of tissues and at lower levels than observed for toxin genes, and 4) strong evidence of a toxin gene reverting back to selective expression in a body tissue. In addition, our differential gene expression analyses identify specific cellular processes that make the venom gland a highly specialized secretory tissue. Our results demonstrate that the evolution and production of venom in snakes is a complex process that can only be understood in the context of comparative data from other snake tissues, including the identification of genes paralogous to venom toxins. PMID:25502939

  16. Venom-Related Transcripts from Bothrops jararaca Tissues Provide Novel Molecular Insights into the Production and Evolution of Snake Venom

    PubMed Central

    Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio L.M.; Bastos, Carolina Mancini Val; Ho, Paulo Lee; Luna, Milene Schmidt; Yamanouye, Norma; Casewell, Nicholas R.

    2015-01-01

    Attempts to reconstruct the evolutionary history of snake toxins in the context of their co-option to the venom gland rarely account for nonvenom snake genes that are paralogous to toxins, and which therefore represent important connectors to ancestral genes. In order to reevaluate this process, we conducted a comparative transcriptomic survey on body tissues from a venomous snake. A nonredundant set of 33,000 unigenes (assembled transcripts of reference genes) was independently assembled from six organs of the medically important viperid snake Bothrops jararaca, providing a reference list of 82 full-length toxins from the venom gland and specific products from other tissues, such as pancreatic digestive enzymes. Unigenes were then screened for nontoxin transcripts paralogous to toxins revealing 1) low level coexpression of approximately 20% of toxin genes (e.g., bradykinin-potentiating peptide, C-type lectin, snake venom metalloproteinase, snake venom nerve growth factor) in body tissues, 2) the identity of the closest paralogs to toxin genes in eight classes of toxins, 3) the location and level of paralog expression, indicating that, in general, co-expression occurs in a higher number of tissues and at lower levels than observed for toxin genes, and 4) strong evidence of a toxin gene reverting back to selective expression in a body tissue. In addition, our differential gene expression analyses identify specific cellular processes that make the venom gland a highly specialized secretory tissue. Our results demonstrate that the evolution and production of venom in snakes is a complex process that can only be understood in the context of comparative data from other snake tissues, including the identification of genes paralogous to venom toxins. PMID:25502939

  17. Ticks imported to Europe with exotic reptiles.

    PubMed

    Mihalca, Andrei Daniel

    2015-09-30

    It is known that traded exotic animals carry with them an immense number of associated symbionts, including parasites. Reptiles are no exception. Most of the imported reptiles originate from tropical countries and their possibility to carry potentially dangerous pathogens is high. According to CITES, Europe is currently the main reptile importer in the world. Despite this, there is no review or analysis available for the risk related to the importation of tick-borne diseases with traded reptile to the EU. The main aim of the manuscript is to provide a review on the available literature on ticks introduced to and exchanged between European countries via the live reptile trade. So far, the published reports of ticks imported on reptiles are limited to few European countries: Italy, Poland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Slovenia and UK. The following species have been reported: Hyalomma aegyptium, Amblyomma dissimile, Amblyomma exornatum, Amblyomma flavomaculatum, Amblyomma fuscolineatum, Amblyomma latum, Amblyomma quadricavum, Amblyomma marmoreum, Amblyomma nuttalli, Amblyomma sparsum, Amblyomma sphenodonti, Amblyomma transversale and Amblyomma varanense. The majority of species are of African origin, followed by American and Asian species. All groups of reptiles (chelonians, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, tuataras) were involved. However, it seems that certain groups (i.e. tortoises of genus Testudo, monitor lizards of genus Varanus, snakes of genus Python) are more important as host for imported ticks, but this may be related to higher levels of international trade. Even fewer are the reports of tick-borne pathogens associated with imported reptile ticks. Despite the diversity of tick species reported on imported reptiles, the situations of truly invasive species are atypical and are limited in natural environments to maximum two cases where H. aegyptium was involved. Otherwise, the risk associated with reptile trade for introduction of invasive tick to Europe is low

  18. Recruitment and diversification of an ecdysozoan family of neuropeptide hormones for black widow spider venom expression

    PubMed Central

    McCowan, Caryn; Garb, Jessica E.

    2014-01-01

    Venoms have attracted enormous attention because of their potent physiological effects and dynamic evolution, including the convergent recruitment of homologous genes for venom expression. Here we provide novel evidence for the recruitment of genes from the Crustacean Hyperglycemic Hormone (CHH) and arthropod Ion Transport Peptide (ITP) superfamily for venom expression in black widow spiders. We characterized latrodectin peptides from venom gland cDNAs from the Western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus), the brown widow (L. geometricus) and cupboard spider (Steatoda grossa). Phylogenetic analyses of these sequences with homologs from other spider, scorpion and wasp venom cDNAs, as well as CHH/ITP neuropeptides, show latrodectins as derived members of the CHH/ITP superfamily. These analyses suggest that CHH/ITP homologs are more widespread in spider venoms, and were recruited for venom expression in two additional arthropod lineages. We also found that the latrodectin 2 gene and nearly all CHH/ITP genes include a phase 2 intron in the same position, supporting latrodectin’s placement within the CHH/ITP superfamily. Evolutionary analyses of latrodectins suggest episodes of positive selection along some sequence lineages, and positive and purifying selection on specific codons, supporting its functional importance in widow venom. We consider how this improved understanding of latrodectin evolution informs functional hypotheses regarding its role in black widow venom as well as its potential convergent recruitment for venom expression across arthropods. PMID:24316130

  19. Vipera lebetina venom nucleases.

    PubMed

    Trummal, Katrin; Tõnismägi, Külli; Aaspõllu, Anu; Siigur, Jüri; Siigur, Ene

    2016-09-01

    Nucleases, in particular ribo- and deoxyribonucleases, are among the least-studied snake venom enzymes. In the present study we have partially purified different nucleases from Vipera lebetina venom. The DNase activity has been proved by DNA degradation both in solution as well as in-gel (zymogram-method). In DNA-containing SDS-PAGE V. lebetina venom exhibits DNA-degrading activity in bands with molecular masses of ∼120, 30-35 and 22-25 kDa. The 120 kDa band corresponds to phosphodiesterase, a 3', 5'-exonuclease. The endonucleolytic activity of the lower-molecular-mass protein has been confirmed by plasmid degradation and the visualization of the results in agarose gel (with ethidium bromide) electrophoresis. A partial DNA sequence of putative RNase H1 has been determined from the V. lebetina venom gland cDNA library. The translated sequence is similar to the assumed RNase H1 from Crotalus adamanteus (AFJ51163). The RNA/DNA hybrid is hydrolysed by V. lebetina venom and venom fractions. The masses of tryptic peptides from the SDS-PAGE 30-35 kDa band are in concordance with the theoretical peptide masses from the respective translated sequence. For the first time RNase H1-like enzyme activity has been ascertained in snake venom, and sequencing a relevant partial transcript confirmed the identification of this enzyme. PMID:27179419

  20. Adaptive Evolution of the Venom-Targeted vWF Protein in Opossums that Eat Pitvipers

    PubMed Central

    Jansa, Sharon A.; Voss, Robert S.

    2011-01-01

    The rapid evolution of venom toxin genes is often explained as the result of a biochemical arms race between venomous animals and their prey. However, it is not clear that an arms race analogy is appropriate in this context because there is no published evidence for rapid evolution in genes that might confer toxin resistance among routinely envenomed species. Here we report such evidence from an unusual predator-prey relationship between opossums (Marsupialia: Didelphidae) and pitvipers (Serpentes: Crotalinae). In particular, we found high ratios of replacement to silent substitutions in the gene encoding von Willebrand Factor (vWF), a venom-targeted hemostatic blood protein, in a clade of opossums known to eat pitvipers and to be resistant to their hemorrhagic venom. Observed amino-acid substitutions in venom-resistant opossums include changes in net charge and hydrophobicity that are hypothesized to weaken the bond between vWF and one of its toxic snake-venom ligands, the C-type lectin-like protein botrocetin. Our results provide the first example of rapid adaptive evolution in any venom-targeted molecule, and they support the notion that an evolutionary arms race might be driving the rapid evolution of snake venoms. However, in the arms race implied by our results, venomous snakes are prey, and their venom has a correspondingly defensive function in addition to its usual trophic role. PMID:21731638

  1. Global Taxonomic Diversity of Living Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Pincheira-Donoso, Daniel; Bauer, Aaron M.; Meiri, Shai; Uetz, Peter

    2013-01-01

    Reptiles are one of the most ecologically and evolutionarily remarkable groups of living organisms, having successfully colonized most of the planet, including the oceans and some of the harshest and more environmentally unstable ecosystems on earth. Here, based on a complete dataset of all the world’s diversity of living reptiles, we analyse lineage taxonomic richness both within and among clades, at different levels of the phylogenetic hierarchy. We also analyse the historical tendencies in the descriptions of new reptile species from Linnaeus to March 2012. Although (non-avian) reptiles are the second most species-rich group of amniotes after birds, most of their diversity (96.3%) is concentrated in squamates (59% lizards, 35% snakes, and 2% amphisbaenians). In strong contrast, turtles (3.4%), crocodilians (0.3%), and tuataras (0.01%) are far less diverse. In terms of species discoveries, most turtles and crocodilians were described early, while descriptions of lizards, snakes and amphisbaenians are multimodal with respect to time. Lizard descriptions, in particular, have reached unprecedented levels during the last decade. Finally, despite such remarkably asymmetric distributions of reptile taxonomic diversity among groups, we found that the distributions of lineage richness are consistently right-skewed, with most clades (monophyletic families and genera) containing few lineages (monophyletic genera and species, respectively), while only a few have radiated greatly (notably the families Colubridae and Scincidae, and the lizard genera Anolis and Liolaemus). Therefore, such consistency in the frequency distribution of richness among clades and among phylogenetic levels suggests that the nature of reptile biodiversity is fundamentally fractal (i.e., it is scale invariant). We then compared current reptile diversity with the global reptile diversity and taxonomy known in 1980. Despite substantial differences in the taxonomies (relative to 2012), the patterns of

  2. Reptile Critical Care and Common Emergencies.

    PubMed

    Music, Meera Kumar; Strunk, Anneliese

    2016-05-01

    Reptile emergencies are an important part of exotic animal critical care, both true emergencies and those perceived as emergencies by owners. The most common presentations for reptile emergencies are addressed here, with information on differential diagnoses, helpful diagnostics, and approach to treatment. In many cases, reptile emergencies are actually acute presentations originating from a chronic problem, and the treatment plan must include both clinical treatment and addressing husbandry and dietary deficiencies at home. Accurate owner expectations must be set in order to have owner compliance to long-term treatment plans. PMID:27131163

  3. Alkaline phosphatase from venom of the endoparasitoid wasp, Pteromalus puparum.

    PubMed

    Zhu, Jia-Ying; Yin Ye, Gong; Fang, Qi; Hu, Cui

    2010-01-01

    Using chromogenic substrates 5-bromo-4-chloro-3'-indolyl phosphate and nitro blue tetrazolium, alkaline phosphatase (ALPase) was histochemically detected in the venom apparatus of an endoparasitoid wasp, Pteromalus puparum L. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae). Ultrastructural observations demonstrated its presence in the secretory vesicles and nuclei of the venom gland secretory cells. Using p-nitrophenyl phosphate as substrate to measure enzyme activity, the venom ALPase was found to be temperature dependent with bivalent cation effects. The full-length cDNA sequence of ALPase was amplified from the cDNA library of the venom apparatus of P. puparum, providing the first molecular characterization of ALPase in the venom of a parasitoid wasp. The cDNA consisted of 2645 bp with a 1623 bp open reading frame coding for 541 deduced amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 59.83 kDa and pI of 6.98. Using multiple sequence alignment, the deduced amino acid sequence shared high identity to its counterparts from other insects. A signal peptide and a long conserved ALPase gene family signature sequence were observed. The amino acid sequence of this venom protein was characterized with different potential glycosylation, myristoylation, phosphorylation sites and metal ligand sites. The transcript of the ALPase gene was detected by RT-PCR in the venom apparatus with development related expression after adult wasp emergence, suggesting a possible correlation with the oviposition process. PMID:20575745

  4. Quo vadis venomics? A roadmap to neglected venomous invertebrates.

    PubMed

    von Reumont, Bjoern Marcus; Campbell, Lahcen I; Jenner, Ronald A

    2014-01-01

    Venomics research is being revolutionized by the increased use of sensitive -omics techniques to identify venom toxins and their transcripts in both well studied and neglected venomous taxa. The study of neglected venomous taxa is necessary both for understanding the full diversity of venom systems that have evolved in the animal kingdom, and to robustly answer fundamental questions about the biology and evolution of venoms without the distorting effect that can result from the current bias introduced by some heavily studied taxa. In this review we draw the outlines of a roadmap into the diversity of poorly studied and understood venomous and putatively venomous invertebrates, which together represent tens of thousands of unique venoms. The main groups we discuss are crustaceans, flies, centipedes, non-spider and non-scorpion arachnids, annelids, molluscs, platyhelminths, nemerteans, and echinoderms. We review what is known about the morphology of the venom systems in these groups, the composition of their venoms, and the bioactivities of the venoms to provide researchers with an entry into a large and scattered literature. We conclude with a short discussion of some important methodological aspects that have come to light with the recent use of new -omics techniques in the study of venoms. PMID:25533518

  5. Quo Vadis Venomics? A Roadmap to Neglected Venomous Invertebrates

    PubMed Central

    von Reumont, Bjoern Marcus; Campbell, Lahcen I.; Jenner, Ronald A.

    2014-01-01

    Venomics research is being revolutionized by the increased use of sensitive -omics techniques to identify venom toxins and their transcripts in both well studied and neglected venomous taxa. The study of neglected venomous taxa is necessary both for understanding the full diversity of venom systems that have evolved in the animal kingdom, and to robustly answer fundamental questions about the biology and evolution of venoms without the distorting effect that can result from the current bias introduced by some heavily studied taxa. In this review we draw the outlines of a roadmap into the diversity of poorly studied and understood venomous and putatively venomous invertebrates, which together represent tens of thousands of unique venoms. The main groups we discuss are crustaceans, flies, centipedes, non-spider and non-scorpion arachnids, annelids, molluscs, platyhelminths, nemerteans, and echinoderms. We review what is known about the morphology of the venom systems in these groups, the composition of their venoms, and the bioactivities of the venoms to provide researchers with an entry into a large and scattered literature. We conclude with a short discussion of some important methodological aspects that have come to light with the recent use of new -omics techniques in the study of venoms. PMID:25533518

  6. Wide distribution of cysteine-rich secretory proteins in snake venoms: isolation and cloning of novel snake venom cysteine-rich secretory proteins.

    PubMed

    Yamazaki, Yasuo; Hyodo, Fumiko; Morita, Takashi

    2003-04-01

    Cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISPs) are found in epididymis and granules of mammals, and they are thought to function in sperm maturation and in the immune system. Recently, we isolated and obtained clones for novel snake venom proteins that are classified as CRISP family proteins. To elucidate the distribution of snake venom CRISP family proteins, we evaluated a wide range of venoms for immuno-cross-reactivity. Then we isolated, characterized, and cloned genes for three novel CRISP family proteins (piscivorin, ophanin, and catrin) from the venom of eastern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus), king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), and western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Our results show the wide distribution of snake venom CRISP family proteins among Viperidae and Elapidae from different continents, indicating that CRISP family proteins compose a new group of snake venom proteins. PMID:12646276

  7. Venomous bites and stings.

    PubMed

    Warrell, D A; Fenner, P J

    1993-04-01

    Travellers to tropical countries are often extremely concerned about the risk of bites and stings by venomous animals. This fear prompts many enquiries, usually at the last moment before departure, about the possibility of carrying first aid kits and antivenoms. In fact, these accidents are extremely rare because most travellers wear shoes and are far less exposed to venomous animals than indigenous peoples for whom bites and stings may be important causes of death or morbidity. PMID:8101465

  8. Pseudechis australis venomics: adaptation for a defense against microbial pathogens and recruitment of body transferrin.

    PubMed

    Georgieva, Dessislava; Seifert, Jana; Öhler, Michaela; von Bergen, Martin; Spencer, Patrick; Arni, Raghuvir K; Genov, Nicolay; Betzel, Christian

    2011-05-01

    The venom composition of Pseudechis australis, a widely distributed in Australia reptile, was analyzed by 2-DE and mass spectrometric analysis. In total, 102 protein spots were identified as venom toxins. The gel is dominated by horizontal trains of spots with identical or very similar molecular masses but differing in the pI values. This suggests possible post-translational modifications of toxins, changing their electrostatic charge. The results demonstrate a highly specialized biosynthesis of toxins destroying the hemostasis (P-III metalloproteases, SVMPs), antimicrobial proteins (L-amino acid oxidases, LAAOs, and transferrin-like proteins, TFLPs), and myotoxins (phospholipase A(2)s, PLA(2)s). The three transferrin isoforms of the Australian P. australis (Elapidae snake) venom are highly homologous to the body transferrin of the African Lamprophis fuliginosus (Colubridae), an indication for the recruitment of body transferrin. The venomic composition suggests an adaptation for a defense against microbial pathogens from the prey. Transferrins have not previously been reported as components of elapid or other snake venoms. Ecto-5'-nucleotidases (5'-NTDs), nerve growth factors (VNGFs), and a serine proteinase inhibitor (SPI) were also identified. The venom composition and enzymatic activities explain the clinical manifestation of the king brown snakebite. The results can be used for medical, scientific, and biotechnological purposes. PMID:21417486

  9. Amphibians and Reptiles of Los Alamos County

    SciTech Connect

    Teralene S. Foxx; Timothy K. Haarmann; David C. Keller

    1999-10-01

    Recent studies have shown that amphibians and reptiles are good indicators of environmental health. They live in terrestrial and aquatic environments and are often the first animals to be affected by environmental change. This publication provides baseline information about amphibians and reptiles that are present on the Pajarito Plateau. Ten years of data collection and observations by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of New Mexico, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and hobbyists are represented.

  10. New country records of reptiles from Laos

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Abstract Four species of reptiles, of which one is represented by one of its subspecies, are recorded for the first time from Laos: Cyrtodactylus phongnhakebangensis, Lycodon futsingensis, and Lycodon ruhstrati, as Lycodon ruhstrati abditus, from limestone forests in Khammouane Province and Cyrtodactylus pseudoquadrivirgatus from hill evergreen forest in Salavan Province. These discoveries of lizards and snakes bring the total species number of reptiles to 189 in Laos. PMID:24723754

  11. Placental specializations in lecithotrophic viviparous squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

    Stewart, James R

    2015-09-01

    Squamate reptiles have been thought to be predisposed to evolution of viviparity because embryos of most oviparous species undergo considerable development in the uterus prior to oviposition. A related hypothesis proposes that prolonged intrauterine gestation, an intermediate condition leading to viviparity, requires little or no physiological adjustment, other than reduction in thickness of the eggshell. This logical framework is often accompanied by an assumption that mode of parity (oviparity, viviparity) and pattern of embryonic nutrition (lecithotrophy, placentotrophy) are independent traits that evolve in sequence. Thus, specializations for viviparity should be absent in some lecithotrophic viviparous species. Studies of species of lizards with geographic variation in mode of parity challenge this scenario by demonstrating that placental specializations are correlated with viviparity. Uterine specializations for placental transport of calcium to viviparous embryos alter uterine physiology compared to oviparous females. In addition, comparative studies of oviparous and viviparous species, i.e., in which gene flow is disrupted, reveal that both uterine and embryonic structural modifications are commonly associated with viviparity, suggesting relatively rapid evolution of placental specializations. Studies of squamate reproductive biology support two hypotheses: 1) evolution of viviparity requires physiological adjustments of the uterine environment, and 2) evolution of viviparity promotes relatively rapid adaptations for placentation. Models for the evolution of viviparity from oviparity, or for reversals from viviparity to oviparity, should reflect current understanding of squamate reproductive biology and future studies should be designed to challenge these models. PMID:26055953

  12. Molecular evolution of vertebrate neurotrophins: co-option of the highly conserved nerve growth factor gene into the advanced snake venom arsenalf.

    PubMed

    Sunagar, Kartik; Fry, Bryan Grieg; Jackson, Timothy N W; Casewell, Nicholas R; Undheim, Eivind A B; Vidal, Nicolas; Ali, Syed A; King, Glenn F; Vasudevan, Karthikeyan; Vasconcelos, Vitor; Antunes, Agostinho

    2013-01-01

    Neurotrophins are a diverse class of structurally related proteins, essential for neuronal development, survival, plasticity and regeneration. They are characterized by major family members, such as the nerve growth factors (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), which have been demonstrated here to lack coding sequence variations and follow the regime of negative selection, highlighting their extremely important conserved role in vertebrate homeostasis. However, in stark contrast, venom NGF secreted as part of the chemical arsenal of the venomous advanced snake family Elapidae (and to a lesser extent Viperidae) have characteristics consistent with the typical accelerated molecular evolution of venom components. This includes a rapid rate of diversification under the significant influence of positive-selection, with the majority of positively-selected sites found in the secreted β-polypeptide chain (74%) and on the molecular surface of the protein (92%), while the core structural and functional residues remain highly constrained. Such focal mutagenesis generates active residues on the toxin molecular surface, which are capable of interacting with novel biological targets in prey to induce a myriad of pharmacological effects. We propose that caenophidian NGFs could participate in prey-envenoming by causing a massive release of chemical mediators from mast cells to mount inflammatory reactions and increase vascular permeability, thereby aiding the spread of other toxins and/or by acting as proapoptotic factors. Despite their presence in reptilian venom having been known for over 60 years, this is the first evidence that venom-secreted NGF follows the molecular evolutionary pattern of other venom components, and thus likely participates in prey-envenomation. PMID:24312363

  13. Molecular Evolution of Vertebrate Neurotrophins: Co-Option of the Highly Conserved Nerve Growth Factor Gene into the Advanced Snake Venom Arsenalf

    PubMed Central

    Sunagar, Kartik; Fry, Bryan Grieg; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Casewell, Nicholas R.; Undheim, Eivind A. B.; Vidal, Nicolas; Ali, Syed A.; King, Glenn F.; Vasudevan, Karthikeyan; Vasconcelos, Vitor; Antunes, Agostinho

    2013-01-01

    Neurotrophins are a diverse class of structurally related proteins, essential for neuronal development, survival, plasticity and regeneration. They are characterized by major family members, such as the nerve growth factors (NGF), brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), which have been demonstrated here to lack coding sequence variations and follow the regime of negative selection, highlighting their extremely important conserved role in vertebrate homeostasis. However, in stark contrast, venom NGF secreted as part of the chemical arsenal of the venomous advanced snake family Elapidae (and to a lesser extent Viperidae) have characteristics consistent with the typical accelerated molecular evolution of venom components. This includes a rapid rate of diversification under the significant influence of positive-selection, with the majority of positively-selected sites found in the secreted β-polypeptide chain (74%) and on the molecular surface of the protein (92%), while the core structural and functional residues remain highly constrained. Such focal mutagenesis generates active residues on the toxin molecular surface, which are capable of interacting with novel biological targets in prey to induce a myriad of pharmacological effects. We propose that caenophidian NGFs could participate in prey-envenoming by causing a massive release of chemical mediators from mast cells to mount inflammatory reactions and increase vascular permeability, thereby aiding the spread of other toxins and/or by acting as proapoptotic factors. Despite their presence in reptilian venom having been known for over 60 years, this is the first evidence that venom-secreted NGF follows the molecular evolutionary pattern of other venom components, and thus likely participates in prey-envenomation. PMID:24312363

  14. Blood parasites in reptiles imported to Germany.

    PubMed

    Halla, Ursula; Ursula, Halla; Korbel, Rüdiger; Rüdiger, Korbel; Mutschmann, Frank; Frank, Mutschmann; Rinder, Monika; Monika, Rinder

    2014-12-01

    Though international trade is increasing, the significance of imported reptiles as carriers of pathogens with relevance to animal and human health is largely unknown. Reptiles imported to Germany were therefore investigated for blood parasites using light microscopy, and the detected parasites were morphologically characterized. Four hundred ten reptiles belonging to 17 species originating from 11 Asian, South American and African countries were included. Parasites were detected in 117 (29%) of individual reptiles and in 12 species. Haemococcidea (Haemogregarina, Hepatozoon, Schellackia) were found in 84% of snakes (Python regius, Corallus caninus), 20% of lizards (Acanthocercus atricollis, Agama agama, Kinyongia fischeri, Gekko gecko) and 50% of turtles (Pelusios castaneus). Infections with Hematozoea (Plasmodium, Sauroplasma) were detected in 14% of lizards (Acanthocercus atricollis, Agama agama, Agama mwanzae, K. fischeri, Furcifer pardalis, Xenagama batillifera, Acanthosaura capra, Physignathus cocincinus), while those with Kinetoplastea (Trypanosoma) were found in 9% of snakes (Python regius, Corallus caninus) and 25 % of lizards (K. fischeri, Acanthosaura capra, G. gecko). Nematoda including filarial larvae parasitized in 10% of lizards (Agama agama, Agama mwanzae, K. fischeri, Fu. pardalis, Physignathus cocincinus). Light microscopy mostly allowed diagnosis of the parasites' genus, while species identification was not possible because of limited morphological characteristics available for parasitic developmental stages. The investigation revealed a high percentage of imported reptiles being carriers of parasites while possible vectors and pathogenicity are largely unknown so far. The spreading of haemoparasites thus represents an incalculable risk for pet reptiles, native herpetofauna and even human beings. PMID:25324132

  15. The venom gland transcriptome of the Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii): towards an understanding of venom composition among advanced snakes (Superfamily Colubroidea)

    PubMed Central

    Pahari, Susanta; Mackessy, Stephen P; Kini, R Manjunatha

    2007-01-01

    Background Snake venoms are complex mixtures of pharmacologically active proteins and peptides which belong to a small number of superfamilies. Global cataloguing of the venom transcriptome facilitates the identification of new families of toxins as well as helps in understanding the evolution of venom proteomes. Results We have constructed a cDNA library of the venom gland of a threatened rattlesnake (a pitviper), Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii (Desert Massasauga), and sequenced 576 ESTs. Our results demonstrate a high abundance of serine proteinase and metalloproteinase transcripts, indicating that the disruption of hemostasis is a principle mechanism of action of the venom. In addition to the transcripts encoding common venom proteins, we detected two varieties of low abundance unique transcripts in the library; these encode for three-finger toxins and a novel toxin possibly generated from the fusion of two genes. We also observed polyadenylated ribosomal RNAs in the venom gland library, an interesting preliminary obsevation of this unusual phenomenon in a reptilian system. Conclusion The three-finger toxins are characteristic of most elapid venoms but are rare in viperid venoms. We detected several ESTs encoding this group of toxins in this study. We also observed the presence of a transcript encoding a fused protein of two well-characterized toxins (Kunitz/BPTI and Waprins), and this is the first report of this kind of fusion in a snake toxin transcriptome. We propose that these new venom proteins may have ancillary functions for envenomation. The presence of a fused toxin indicates that in addition to gene duplication and accelerated evolution, exon shuffling or transcriptional splicing may also contribute to generating the diversity of toxins and toxin isoforms observed among snake venoms. The detection of low abundance toxins, as observed in this and other studies, indicates a greater compositional similarity of venoms (though potency will differ) among

  16. Insights into reptile dermal contaminant exposure: Reptile skin permeability to pesticides.

    PubMed

    Weir, Scott M; Talent, Larry G; Anderson, Todd A; Salice, Christopher J

    2016-07-01

    There is growing interest in improving ecological risk assessment exposure estimation, specifically by incorporating dermal exposure. At the same time, there is a growing interest in amphibians and reptiles as receptors in ecological risk assessment, despite generally receiving less research than more traditional receptors. Previous research has suggested that dermal exposure may be more important than previously considered for reptiles. We measured reptile skin permeability to four pesticides (thiamethoxam, malathion, tebuthiuron, trifluralin) using ventral skin samples. All four pesticides penetrated the skin but generally had low permeability. There was no apparent relationship between physicochemical properties and permeability coefficients. Malathion had a significantly greater permeability rate at all time points compared to the other pesticides. Tebuthiuron had a greater permeability than thiamethoxam. Reptiles and mammals appear to have similar skin permeability suggesting that dermal exposure estimates for mammals may be representative of reptiles. PMID:27037770

  17. Novel Insights into Chromosome Evolution in Birds, Archosaurs, and Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Farré, Marta; Narayan, Jitendra; Slavov, Gancho T.; Damas, Joana; Auvil, Loretta; Li, Cai; Jarvis, Erich D.; Burt, David W.; Griffin, Darren K.; Larkin, Denis M.

    2016-01-01

    Homologous synteny blocks (HSBs) and evolutionary breakpoint regions (EBRs) in mammalian chromosomes are enriched for distinct DNA features, contributing to distinct phenotypes. To reveal HSB and EBR roles in avian evolution, we performed a sequence-based comparison of 21 avian and 5 outgroup species using recently sequenced genomes across the avian family tree and a newly-developed algorithm. We identified EBRs and HSBs in ancestral bird, archosaurian (bird, crocodile, and dinosaur), and reptile chromosomes. Genes involved in the regulation of gene expression and biosynthetic processes were preferably located in HSBs, including for example, avian-specific HSBs enriched for genes involved in limb development. Within birds, some lineage-specific EBRs rearranged genes were related to distinct phenotypes, such as forebrain development in parrots. Our findings provide novel evolutionary insights into genome evolution in birds, particularly on how chromosome rearrangements likely contributed to the formation of novel phenotypes. PMID:27401172

  18. Novel Insights into Chromosome Evolution in Birds, Archosaurs, and Reptiles.

    PubMed

    Farré, Marta; Narayan, Jitendra; Slavov, Gancho T; Damas, Joana; Auvil, Loretta; Li, Cai; Jarvis, Erich D; Burt, David W; Griffin, Darren K; Larkin, Denis M

    2016-01-01

    Homologous synteny blocks (HSBs) and evolutionary breakpoint regions (EBRs) in mammalian chromosomes are enriched for distinct DNA features, contributing to distinct phenotypes. To reveal HSB and EBR roles in avian evolution, we performed a sequence-based comparison of 21 avian and 5 outgroup species using recently sequenced genomes across the avian family tree and a newly-developed algorithm. We identified EBRs and HSBs in ancestral bird, archosaurian (bird, crocodile, and dinosaur), and reptile chromosomes. Genes involved in the regulation of gene expression and biosynthetic processes were preferably located in HSBs, including for example, avian-specific HSBs enriched for genes involved in limb development. Within birds, some lineage-specific EBRs rearranged genes were related to distinct phenotypes, such as forebrain development in parrots. Our findings provide novel evolutionary insights into genome evolution in birds, particularly on how chromosome rearrangements likely contributed to the formation of novel phenotypes. PMID:27401172

  19. An analysis of venom ontogeny and prey-specific toxicity in the Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia).

    PubMed

    Modahl, Cassandra M; Mukherjee, Ashis K; Mackessy, Stephen P

    2016-09-01

    Venoms of snakes of the family Elapidae (cobras, kraits, mambas, and relatives) are predominantly composed of numerous phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) and three-finger toxins (3FTxs), some of which are lethal while others are not significantly toxic. Currently, the only identified prey-specific toxins are several nonconventional 3FTxs, and given the large diversity of 3FTxs within Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) venom, it was hypothesized that several 3FTxs, previously found to be non-toxic or weakly toxic 3FTxs in murine models, could potentially be toxic towards non-murine prey. Additionally, it was hypothesized that ontogenetic dietary shifts will be correlated with observable changes in specific 3FTx isoform abundance. Adult and juvenile N. kaouthia venom composition was investigated using ion-exchange FPLC, 1D and 2D SDS-PAGE, mass spectrometry, and various enzymatic and LD50 assays. Alpha-cobratoxin (α-elapitoxin) was the only significantly toxic (LD50 < 1 μg/g) 3FTx found in N. kaouthia venom and was equally toxic toward both lizard and mouse models. The abundance and diversity of 3FTxs and most enzyme activities did not vary between adult and juvenile cobra venoms; however, total venom PLA2 activity and specific PLA2 isoforms did vary, with juveniles lacking several of the least acidic PLA2s, and these differences could have both biological (related to predation) and clinical (antivenom efficacy) implications. Nevertheless, the ubiquitous presence of α-cobratoxin in both adult and juvenile cobra venoms, with high toxicity toward both reptiles and mammals, represents a venom compositional strategy wherein a single potent toxin effectively immobilizes a variety of prey types encountered across life history stages. PMID:27163885

  20. Deep Venomics Reveals the Mechanism for Expanded Peptide Diversity in Cone Snail Venom*

    PubMed Central

    Dutertre, Sébastien; Jin, Ai-hua; Kaas, Quentin; Jones, Alun; Alewood, Paul F.; Lewis, Richard J.

    2013-01-01

    Cone snails produce highly complex venom comprising mostly small biologically active peptides known as conotoxins or conopeptides. Early estimates that suggested 50–200 venom peptides are produced per species have been recently increased at least 10-fold using advanced mass spectrometry. To uncover the mechanism(s) responsible for generating this impressive diversity, we used an integrated approach combining second-generation transcriptome sequencing with high sensitivity proteomics. From the venom gland transcriptome of Conus marmoreus, a total of 105 conopeptide precursor sequences from 13 gene superfamilies were identified. Over 60% of these precursors belonged to the three gene superfamilies O1, T, and M, consistent with their high levels of expression, which suggests these conotoxins play an important role in prey capture and/or defense. Seven gene superfamilies not previously identified in C. marmoreus, including five novel superfamilies, were also discovered. To confirm the expression of toxins identified at the transcript level, the injected venom of C. marmoreus was comprehensively analyzed by mass spectrometry, revealing 2710 and 3172 peptides using MALDI and ESI-MS, respectively, and 6254 peptides using an ESI-MS TripleTOF 5600 instrument. All conopeptides derived from transcriptomic sequences could be matched to masses obtained on the TripleTOF within 100 ppm accuracy, with 66 (63%) providing MS/MS coverage that unambiguously confirmed these matches. Comprehensive integration of transcriptomic and proteomic data revealed for the first time that the vast majority of the conopeptide diversity arises from a more limited set of genes through a process of variable peptide processing, which generates conopeptides with alternative cleavage sites, heterogeneous post-translational modifications, and highly variable N- and C-terminal truncations. Variable peptide processing is expected to contribute to the evolution of venoms, and explains how a limited set of

  1. Venom gland components of the ectoparasitoid wasp, Anisopteromalus calandrae

    PubMed Central

    Perkin, Lindsey C; Friesen, Kenlee S; Flinn, Paul W; Oppert, Brenda

    2015-01-01

    The wasp Anisopteromalus calandrae is a small ectoparasitoid that attacks stored product pest beetle larvae that develop inside grain kernels, and is thus a potential insect control tool. The components of A. calandrae venom have not been studied, but venom from other organisms contains proteins with potential applications, such as pest management tools and treatments for human diseases. We dissected female A. calandrae and collected venom and associated glands. Using high throughput sequencing, a venom gland transcriptome was assembled that contained 45,432 contigs, 25,726 of which had BLASTx hits. The majority of hits were to Nasonia vitripennis, an ectoparasitoid from the same taxonomic family, as well as other bees, wasps, and ants. Gene ontology grouped sequences into eleven molecular functions, among which binding and catalytic activity had the most representatives. In this study, we highlighted the most abundant sequences, including those that are likely the functional components of the venom. Specifically, we focused on genes encoding proteins potentially involved in host developmental arrest, disrupting the host immune system, host paralysis, and transcripts that support these functions. Our report is the first to characterize components of the A. calandrae venom gland that may be useful as control tools for insect pests and other applications. PMID:26998218

  2. Purification and characterization of a cysteine-rich secretory protein from Philodryas patagoniensis snake venom.

    PubMed

    Peichoto, María E; Mackessy, Stephen P; Teibler, Pamela; Tavares, Flávio L; Burckhardt, Paula L; Breno, María C; Acosta, Ofelia; Santoro, Marcelo L

    2009-07-01

    Cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRiSPs) are widespread in reptile venoms, but most have functions that remain unknown. In the present study we describe the purification and characterization of a CRiSP (patagonin) from the venom of the rear-fanged snake Philodryas patagoniensis, and demonstrate its biological activity. Patagonin is a single-chain protein, exhibiting a molecular mass of 24,858.6 Da, whose NH(2)-terminal and MS/MS-derived sequences are nearly identical to other snake venom CRiSPs. The purified protein hydrolyzed neither azocasein nor fibrinogen, and it could induce no edema, hemorrhage or inhibition of platelet adhesion and aggregation. In addition, patagonin did not inhibit contractions of rat aortic smooth muscle induced by high K(+). However, it caused muscular damage to murine gastrocnemius muscle, an action that has not been previously described for any snake venom CRiSPs. Thus, patagonin will be important for studies of the structure-function and evolutionary relationships of this family of proteins that are widely distributed among snake venoms. PMID:19285568

  3. Science: What Reptiles Are and Aren't

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Axelrod, Gerry S.

    1978-01-01

    Many children have an enormous fascination for reptiles of all kinds--snakes, turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, alligators and lizards. Whatever the reason for their interest, you can channel the enthusiasm of reptile fans and build the interest of curious students with a few simple activities, e.g., getting acquainted with reptile characteristics…

  4. Bioinformatics-Aided Venomics

    PubMed Central

    Kaas, Quentin; Craik, David J.

    2015-01-01

    Venomics is a modern approach that combines transcriptomics and proteomics to explore the toxin content of venoms. This review will give an overview of computational approaches that have been created to classify and consolidate venomics data, as well as algorithms that have helped discovery and analysis of toxin nucleic acid and protein sequences, toxin three-dimensional structures and toxin functions. Bioinformatics is used to tackle specific challenges associated with the identification and annotations of toxins. Recognizing toxin transcript sequences among second generation sequencing data cannot rely only on basic sequence similarity because toxins are highly divergent. Mass spectrometry sequencing of mature toxins is challenging because toxins can display a large number of post-translational modifications. Identifying the mature toxin region in toxin precursor sequences requires the prediction of the cleavage sites of proprotein convertases, most of which are unknown or not well characterized. Tracing the evolutionary relationships between toxins should consider specific mechanisms of rapid evolution as well as interactions between predatory animals and prey. Rapidly determining the activity of toxins is the main bottleneck in venomics discovery, but some recent bioinformatics and molecular modeling approaches give hope that accurate predictions of toxin specificity could be made in the near future. PMID:26110505

  5. Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov., isolated from reptiles

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    During samplings of reptiles for Epsilonproteobacteria, Campylobacter strains were isolated from lizards and chelonians not belonging to any of the established taxa. Initial AFLP, PCR, and 16S rRNA sequence analysis showed that these strains were most closely related to Campylobacter fetus and Campy...

  6. CONTAMINANT-ASSOCIATED ENDOCRINE DISRUPTION IN REPTILES.

    EPA Science Inventory

    The data presented suggest that contaminants can alter the endocrine and reproductive system of reptiles by mimicking hormones and by various mechanisms other than direct hormonal mimicry. However, these data indicate, as do many other studies using various vertebrates, that a fo...

  7. SdPI, The First Functionally Characterized Kunitz-Type Trypsin Inhibitor from Scorpion Venom

    PubMed Central

    Li, Tian; He, Yawen; Ma, Yibao; Chen, Zongyun; Wu, Yingliang; Li, Wenxin; Cao, Zhijian

    2011-01-01

    Background Kunitz-type venom peptides have been isolated from a wide variety of venomous animals. They usually have protease inhibitory activity or potassium channel blocking activity, which by virtue of the effects on predator animals are essential for the survival of venomous animals. However, no Kunitz-type peptides from scorpion venom have been functionally characterized. Principal Findings A new Kunitz-type venom peptide gene precursor, SdPI, was cloned and characterized from a venom gland cDNA library of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus. It codes for a signal peptide of 21 residues and a mature peptide of 59 residues. The mature SdPI peptide possesses a unique cysteine framework reticulated by three disulfide bridges, different from all reported Kunitz-type proteins. The recombinant SdPI peptide was functionally expressed. It showed trypsin inhibitory activity with high potency (Ki = 1.6×10−7 M) and thermostability. Conclusions The results illustrated that SdPI is a potent and stable serine protease inhibitor. Further mutagenesis and molecular dynamics simulation revealed that SdPI possesses a serine protease inhibitory active site similar to other Kunitz-type venom peptides. To our knowledge, SdPI is the first functionally characterized Kunitz-type trypsin inhibitor derived from scorpion venom, and it represents a new class of Kunitz-type venom peptides. PMID:22087336

  8. Tempo and Mode of the Evolution of Venom and Poison in Tetrapods

    PubMed Central

    Harris, Richard J.; Arbuckle, Kevin

    2016-01-01

    Toxic weaponry in the form of venom and poison has evolved in most groups of animals, including all four major lineages of tetrapods. Moreover, the evolution of such traits has been linked to several key aspects of the biology of toxic animals including life-history and diversification. Despite this, attempts to investigate the macroevolutionary patterns underlying such weaponry are lacking. In this study we analyse patterns of venom and poison evolution across reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds using a suite of phylogenetic comparative methods. We find that each major lineage has a characteristic pattern of trait evolution, but mammals and reptiles evolve under a surprisingly similar regime, whilst that of amphibians appears to be particularly distinct and highly contrasting compared to other groups. Our results also suggest that the mechanism of toxin acquisition may be an important distinction in such evolutionary patterns; the evolution of biosynthesis is far less dynamic than that of sequestration of toxins from the diet. Finally, contrary to the situation in amphibians, other tetrapod groups show an association between the evolution of toxic weaponry and higher diversification rates. Taken together, our study provides the first broad-scale analysis of macroevolutionary patterns of venom and poison throughout tetrapods. PMID:27348001

  9. Tempo and Mode of the Evolution of Venom and Poison in Tetrapods.

    PubMed

    Harris, Richard J; Arbuckle, Kevin

    2016-01-01

    Toxic weaponry in the form of venom and poison has evolved in most groups of animals, including all four major lineages of tetrapods. Moreover, the evolution of such traits has been linked to several key aspects of the biology of toxic animals including life-history and diversification. Despite this, attempts to investigate the macroevolutionary patterns underlying such weaponry are lacking. In this study we analyse patterns of venom and poison evolution across reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds using a suite of phylogenetic comparative methods. We find that each major lineage has a characteristic pattern of trait evolution, but mammals and reptiles evolve under a surprisingly similar regime, whilst that of amphibians appears to be particularly distinct and highly contrasting compared to other groups. Our results also suggest that the mechanism of toxin acquisition may be an important distinction in such evolutionary patterns; the evolution of biosynthesis is far less dynamic than that of sequestration of toxins from the diet. Finally, contrary to the situation in amphibians, other tetrapod groups show an association between the evolution of toxic weaponry and higher diversification rates. Taken together, our study provides the first broad-scale analysis of macroevolutionary patterns of venom and poison throughout tetrapods. PMID:27348001

  10. A perspective on toxicology of Conus venom peptides.

    PubMed

    Kumar, Palanisamy Satheesh; Kumar, Dhanabalan Senthil; Umamaheswari, Sundaresan

    2015-05-01

    The evolutionarily unique and ecologically diverse family Conidae presents fundamental opportunities for marine pharmacology research and drug discovery. The focus of this investigation is to summarize the worldwide distribution of Conus and their species diversity with special reference to the Indian coast. In addition, this study will contribute to understanding the structural properties of conotoxin and therapeutic application of Conus venom peptides. Cone snails can inject a mix of various conotoxins and these venoms are their major weapon for prey capture, and may also have other biological purposes, and some of these conotoxins fatal to humans. Conus venoms contain a remarkable diversity of pharmacologically active small peptides; their targets are an iron channel and receptors in the neuromuscular system. Interspecific divergence is pronounced in venom peptide genes, which is generally attributed to their species specific biotic interactions. There is a notable interspecific divergence observed in venom peptide genes, which can be justified as of biotic interactions that stipulate species peculiar habitat and ecology of cone snails. There are several conopeptides used in clinical trials and one peptide (Ziconotide) has received FDA approval for treatment of pain. This perspective provides a comprehensive overview of the distribution of cone shells and focus on the molecular approach in documenting their taxonomy and diversity with special reference to geographic distribution of Indian cone snails, structure and properties of conopeptide and their pharmacological targets and future directions. PMID:26003592

  11. Exploring the Potential of Venom from Nasonia vitripennis as Therapeutic Agent with High-Throughput Screening Tools

    PubMed Central

    Danneels, Ellen L.; Formesyn, Ellen M.; de Graaf, Dirk C.

    2015-01-01

    The venom from the ectoparasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) contains at least 80 different proteins and possibly even more peptides or other small chemical compounds, demonstrating its appealing therapeutic application. To better understand the dynamics of the venom in mammalian cells, two high-throughput screening tools were performed. The venom induced pathways related to an early stress response and activated reporters that suggest the involvement of steroids. Whether these steroids reside from the venom itself or show an induced release/production caused by the venom, still remains unsolved. The proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β was found to be down-regulated after venom and LPS co-treatment, confirming the anti-inflammatory action of N. vitripennis venom. When analyzing the expression levels of the NF-κB target genes, potentially not only the canonical but also the alternative NF-κB pathway can be affected, possibly explaining some counterintuitive results. It is proposed that next to an NF-κB binding site, the promoter of the genes tested by the PCR array may also contain binding sites for other transcription factors, resulting in a complex puzzle to connect the induced target gene with its respective transcription factor. Interestingly, Nasonia venom altered the expression of some drug targets, presenting the venom with an exciting therapeutical potential. PMID:26046700

  12. Characterization of the gene encoding component C3 of the complement system from the spider Loxosceles laeta venom glands: Phylogenetic implications.

    PubMed

    Myamoto, D T; Pidde-Queiroz, G; Pedroso, A; Gonçalves-de-Andrade, R M; van den Berg, C W; Tambourgi, D V

    2016-09-01

    A transcriptome analysis of the venom glands of the spider Loxosceles laeta, performed by our group, in a previous study (Fernandes-Pedrosa et al., 2008), revealed a transcript with a sequence similar to the human complement component C3. Here we present the analysis of this transcript. cDNA fragments encoding the C3 homologue (Lox-C3) were amplified from total RNA isolated from the venom glands of L. laeta by RACE-PCR. Lox-C3 is a 5178 bps cDNA sequence encoding a 190kDa protein, with a domain configuration similar to human C3. Multiple alignments of C3-like proteins revealed two processing sites, suggesting that Lox-C3 is composed of three chains. Furthermore, the amino acids consensus sequences for the thioester was found, in addition to putative sequences responsible for FB binding. The phylogenetic analysis showed that Lox-C3 belongs to the same group as two C3 isoforms from the spider Hasarius adansoni (Family Salcitidae), showing 53% homology with these. This is the first characterization of a Loxosceles cDNA sequence encoding a human C3 homologue, and this finding, together with our previous finding of the expression of a FB-like molecule, suggests that this spider species also has a complement system. This work will help to improve our understanding of the innate immune system in these spiders and the ancestral structure of C3. PMID:27259372

  13. Diversity and distribution of reptiles in Romania

    PubMed Central

    Cogălniceanu, Dan; Rozylowicz, Laurentiu; Székely, Paul; Samoilă, Ciprian; Stănescu, Florina; Tudor, Marian; Székely, Diana; Iosif, Ruben

    2013-01-01

    Abstract The reptile fauna of Romania comprises 23 species, out of which 12 species reach here the limit of their geographic range. We compiled and updated a national database of the reptile species occurrences from a variety of sources including our own field surveys, personal communication from specialists, museum collections and the scientific literature. The occurrence records were georeferenced and stored in a geodatabase for additional analysis of their spatial patterns. The spatial analysis revealed a biased sampling effort concentrated in various protected areas, and deficient in the vast agricultural areas of the southern part of Romania. The patterns of species richness showed a higher number of species in the warmer and drier regions, and a relatively low number of species in the rest of the country. Our database provides a starting point for further analyses, and represents a reliable tool for drafting conservation plans. PMID:24146598

  14. Responses of riparian reptile communities to damming and urbanization

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hunt, Stephanie D.; Guzy, Jacquelyn C.; Price, Steven J.; Halstead, Brian J.; Eskew, Evan A.; Dorcas, Michael E.

    2013-01-01

    Various anthropogenic pressures, including habitat loss, threaten reptile populations worldwide. Riparian zones are critical habitat for many reptile species, but these habitats are also frequently modified by anthropogenic activities. Our study investigated the effects of two riparian habitat modifications-damming and urbanization-on overall and species-specific reptile occupancy patterns. We used time-constrained search techniques to compile encounter histories for 28 reptile species at 21 different sites along the Broad and Pacolet Rivers of South Carolina. Using a hierarchical Bayesian analysis, we modeled reptile occupancy responses to a site's distance upstream from dam, distance downstream from dam, and percent urban land use. The mean occupancy response by the reptile community indicated that reptile occupancy and species richness were maximized when sites were farther upstream from dams. Species-specific occupancy estimates showed a similar trend of lower occupancy immediately upstream from dams. Although the mean occupancy response of the reptile community was positively related to distance downstream from dams, the occupancy response to distance downstream varied among species. Percent urban land use had little effect on the occupancy response of the reptile community or individual species. Our results indicate that the conditions of impoundments and subsequent degradation of the riparian zones upstream from dams may not provide suitable habitat for a number of reptile species.

  15. A survey of Blastocystis in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Teow, W L; Ng, G C; Chan, P P; Chan, Y C; Yap, E H; Zaman, V; Singh, M

    1992-01-01

    A total of 28 species of reptiles were investigated for Blastocystis using light microscopy and in vitro culture in biphasic egg slant medium. Blastocystis species were detected in 8 (28.6%) of these 28 species in 3 tortoises (Geochelone elephantopus, G. elegans and G. carbonaria), 3 snakes (Boiga dendrophilla, Python reticulatus and Elaphe radiata), 1 crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and 1 iguana lizard (Cyclura cornuta). The reptilian Blastocystis appeared to be morphologically similar to B. hominis. PMID:1495927

  16. Bent's Old Fort: Amphibians and Reptiles

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Muths, E.

    2008-01-01

    Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site sits along the Arkansas River in the semi-desert prairie of southeastern Colorado. The USGS provided assistance in designing surveys to assess the variety of herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) resident at this site. This brochure is the results of those efforts and provides visitors with information on what frogs, toads, snakes and salamanders might be seen and heard at Bent's Old Fort.

  17. Mass fingerprinting of the venom and transcriptome of venom gland of scorpion Centruroides tecomanus.

    PubMed

    Valdez-Velázquez, Laura L; Quintero-Hernández, Verónica; Romero-Gutiérrez, Maria Teresa; Coronas, Fredy I V; Possani, Lourival D

    2013-01-01

    Centruroides tecomanus is a Mexican scorpion endemic of the State of Colima, that causes human fatalities. This communication describes a proteome analysis obtained from milked venom and a transcriptome analysis from a cDNA library constructed from two pairs of venom glands of this scorpion. High perfomance liquid chromatography separation of soluble venom produced 80 fractions, from which at least 104 individual components were identified by mass spectrometry analysis, showing to contain molecular masses from 259 to 44,392 Da. Most of these components are within the expected molecular masses for Na(+)- and K(+)-channel specific toxic peptides, supporting the clinical findings of intoxication, when humans are stung by this scorpion. From the cDNA library 162 clones were randomly chosen, from which 130 sequences of good quality were identified and were clustered in 28 contigs containing, each, two or more expressed sequence tags (EST) and 49 singlets with only one EST. Deduced amino acid sequence analysis from 53% of the total ESTs showed that 81% (24 sequences) are similar to known toxic peptides that affect Na(+)-channel activity, and 19% (7 unique sequences) are similar to K(+)-channel especific toxins. Out of the 31 sequences, at least 8 peptides were confirmed by direct Edman degradation, using components isolated directly from the venom. The remaining 19%, 4%, 4%, 15% and 5% of the ESTs correspond respectively to proteins involved in cellular processes, antimicrobial peptides, venom components, proteins without defined function and sequences without similarity in databases. Among the cloned genes are those similar to metalloproteinases. PMID:23840487

  18. Mass Fingerprinting of the Venom and Transcriptome of Venom Gland of Scorpion Centruroides tecomanus

    PubMed Central

    Valdez-Velázquez, Laura L.; Quintero-Hernández, Verónica; Romero-Gutiérrez, Maria Teresa; Coronas, Fredy I. V.; Possani, Lourival D.

    2013-01-01

    Centruroides tecomanus is a Mexican scorpion endemic of the State of Colima, that causes human fatalities. This communication describes a proteome analysis obtained from milked venom and a transcriptome analysis from a cDNA library constructed from two pairs of venom glands of this scorpion. High perfomance liquid chromatography separation of soluble venom produced 80 fractions, from which at least 104 individual components were identified by mass spectrometry analysis, showing to contain molecular masses from 259 to 44,392 Da. Most of these components are within the expected molecular masses for Na+- and K+-channel specific toxic peptides, supporting the clinical findings of intoxication, when humans are stung by this scorpion. From the cDNA library 162 clones were randomly chosen, from which 130 sequences of good quality were identified and were clustered in 28 contigs containing, each, two or more expressed sequence tags (EST) and 49 singlets with only one EST. Deduced amino acid sequence analysis from 53% of the total ESTs showed that 81% (24 sequences) are similar to known toxic peptides that affect Na+-channel activity, and 19% (7 unique sequences) are similar to K+-channel especific toxins. Out of the 31 sequences, at least 8 peptides were confirmed by direct Edman degradation, using components isolated directly from the venom. The remaining 19%, 4%, 4%, 15% and 5% of the ESTs correspond respectively to proteins involved in cellular processes, antimicrobial peptides, venom components, proteins without defined function and sequences without similarity in databases. Among the cloned genes are those similar to metalloproteinases. PMID:23840487

  19. Bioactive proteins from stonefish venom.

    PubMed

    Khoo, Hoon Eng

    2002-09-01

    1. Of all the venomous fish known, the stonefish is one of the most commonly encountered by man. Studies on its venom started in the 1950s, but little work was performed after that until several groups revived interest in the venom in the 1980s after easier accessibility to the fish. 2. Stonefish venom is a mixture of proteins, containing several enzymes, including hyaluronidase of high specific activity. A purified stonefish hyaluronidase has been characterized. 3. Several of the effects of the crude venom have been isolated to a protein lethal factor that has cytolytic, neurotoxic and hypotensive activity. This protein is stonustoxin from Synanceja horrida, trachynilysin from Synanceja trachynis and verrucotoxin from Synanceja verrucosa. 4. The biochemical properties and activities of these protein lethal factors are reviewed. PMID:12165046

  20. Transcriptome analysis of the venom gland of the Mexican scorpion Hadrurus gertschi (Arachnida: Scorpiones)

    PubMed Central

    Schwartz, Elisabeth F; Diego-Garcia, Elia; Rodríguez de la Vega, Ricardo C; Possani, Lourival D

    2007-01-01

    Background Scorpions like other venomous animals posses a highly specialized organ that produces, secretes and disposes the venom components. In these animals, the last postabdominal segment, named telson, contains a pair of venomous glands connected to the stinger. The isolation of numerous scorpion toxins, along with cDNA-based gene cloning and, more recently, proteomic analyses have provided us with a large collection of venom components sequences. However, all of them are secreted, or at least are predicted to be secretable gene products. Therefore very little is known about the cellular processes that normally take place inside the glands for production of the venom mixture. To gain insights into the scorpion venom gland biology, we have decided to perform a transcriptomic analysis by constructing a cDNA library and conducting a random sequencing screening of the transcripts. Results From the cDNA library prepared from a single venom gland of the scorpion Hadrurus gertschi, 160 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were analyzed. These transcripts were further clustered into 68 unique sequences (20 contigs and 48 singlets), with an average length of 919 bp. Half of the ESTs can be confidentially assigned as homologues of annotated gene products. Annotation of these ESTs, with the aid of Gene Ontology terms and homology to eukaryotic orthologous groups, reveals some cellular processes important for venom gland function; including high protein synthesis, tuned posttranslational processing and trafficking. Nonetheless, the main group of the identified gene products includes ESTs similar to known scorpion toxins or other previously characterized scorpion venom components, which account for nearly 60% of the identified proteins. Conclusion To the best of our knowledge this report contains the first transcriptome analysis of genes transcribed by the venomous gland of a scorpion. The data were obtained for the species Hadrurus gertschi, belonging to the family

  1. Genetic Diversity of Cryptosporidium spp. in Captive Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Xiao, Lihua; Ryan, Una M.; Graczyk, Thaddeus K.; Limor, Josef; Li, Lixia; Kombert, Mark; Junge, Randy; Sulaiman, Irshad M.; Zhou, Ling; Arrowood, Michael J.; Koudela, Břetislav; Modrý, David; Lal, Altaf A.

    2004-01-01

    The genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium in reptiles was analyzed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism and sequence analysis of the small subunit rRNA gene. A total of 123 samples were analyzed, of which 48 snake samples, 24 lizard samples, and 3 tortoise samples were positive for Cryptosporidium. Nine different types of Cryptosporidium were found, including Cryptosporidium serpentis, Cryptosporidium desert monitor genotype, Cryptosporidium muris, Cryptosporidium parvum bovine and mouse genotypes, one C. serpentis-like parasite in a lizard, two new Cryptosporidium spp. in snakes, and one new Cryptosporidium sp. in tortoises. C. serpentis and the desert monitor genotype were the most common parasites and were found in both snakes and lizards, whereas the C. muris and C. parvum parasites detected were probably the result of ingestion of infected rodents. Sequence and biologic characterizations indicated that the desert monitor genotype was Cryptosporidium saurophilum. Two host-adapted C. serpentis genotypes were found in snakes and lizards. PMID:14766569

  2. Salmonella infection and carriage in reptiles in a zoological collection.

    PubMed

    Clancy, Meredith M; Davis, Meghan; Valitutto, Marc T; Nelson, Kenrad; Sykes, John M

    2016-05-01

    OBJECTIVE To identify important subspecies and serovars of Salmonella enterica in a captive reptile population and clinically relevant risk factors for and signs of illness in Salmonella-positive reptiles. DESIGN Retrospective cross-sectional study. ANIMALS 11 crocodilians (4 samples), 78 snakes (91 samples), 59 lizards (57 samples), and 34 chelonians (23 samples) at the Bronx Zoo from 2000 through 2012. PROCEDURES Data pertaining to various types of biological samples obtained from reptiles with positive Salmonella culture results and the reptiles themselves were analyzed to determine period prevalence of and risk factors for various Salmonella-related outcomes. RESULTS Serovar distribution differences were identified for sample type, reptile phylogenetic family, and reptile origin and health. Salmonella enterica subsp enterica was the most common subspecies in Salmonella cultures (78/175 [45%]), identified across all reptilian taxa. Salmonella enterica subsp diarizonae was also common (42/175 [24%]) and was recovered almost exclusively from snakes (n = 33), many of which had been clinically ill (17). Clinically ill reptiles provided 37% (64) of Salmonella cultures. Factors associated with an increased risk of illness in reptiles with a positive culture result were carnivorous diet and prior confiscation. Snakes had a higher risk of illness than other reptile groups, whereas lizards had a lower risk. Bony changes, dermatitis, and anorexia were the most common clinical signs. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE This study provided new information on Salmonella infection or carriage and associated clinical disease in reptiles. Associations identified between serovars or subspecies and reptile groups or clinical disease can guide management of Salmonella-positive captive reptiles. PMID:27074614

  3. Scorpion venom components that affect ion-channels function

    PubMed Central

    Quintero-Hernández, V.; Jiménez-Vargas, J.M.; Gurrola, G.B.; Valdivia, H.H.F.; Possani, L.D.

    2014-01-01

    SUMMARY The number and types of venom components that affect ion-channel function are reviewed. These are the most important venom components responsible for human intoxication, deserving medical attention, often requiring the use of specific anti-venoms. Special emphasis is given to peptides that recognize Na+-, K+- and Ca++-channels of excitable cells. Knowledge generated by direct isolation of peptides from venom and components deduced from cloned genes, whose amino acid sequences are deposited into databanks are now adays in the order of 1.5 thousands, out of an estimate biodiversity closed to 300,000. Here the diversity of components is briefly reviewed with mention to specific references. Structural characteristic are discussed with examples taken from published work. The principal mechanisms of action of the three different types of peptides are also reviewed. Na+-channel specific venom components usually are modifier of the open and closing kinetic mechanisms of the ion-channels, whereas peptides affecting K+-channels are normally pore blocking agents. The Ryanodine Ca++-channel specific peptides are known for causing sub-conducting stages of the channels conductance and some were shown to be able to internalize penetrating inside the muscle cells. PMID:23891887

  4. Evolution and Function of the Insulin and Insulin-like Signaling Network in Ectothermic Reptiles: Some Answers and More Questions.

    PubMed

    Schwartz, Tonia S; Bronikowski, Anne M

    2016-08-01

    The insulin and insulin-like signaling (IIS) molecular network regulates cellular growth and division, and influences organismal metabolism, growth and development, reproduction, and lifespan. As a group, reptiles have incredible diversity in the complex life history traits that have been associated with the IIS network, yet the research on the IIS network in ectothermic reptiles is sparse. Here, we review the IIS network and synthesize what is known about the function and evolution of the IIS network in ectothermic reptiles. The primary hormones of this network-the insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2 (IGFs) likely function in reproduction in ectothermic reptiles, but the precise mechanisms are unclear, and likely range from influencing mating and ovulation to maternal investment in embryonic development. In general, plasma levels of IGF1 increase with food intake in ectothermic reptiles, but the magnitude of the response to food varies across species or populations and the ages of animals. Long-term temperature treatments as well as thermal stress can alter expression of genes within the IIS network. Although relatively little work has been done on IGF2 in ectothermic reptiles, IGF2 is consistently expressed at higher levels than IGF1 in juvenile ectothermic reptiles. Furthermore, in contrast to mammals that have genetic imprinting that silences the maternal IGF2 allele, in reptiles IGF2 is bi-allelically expressed (based on findings in chickens, a snake, and a lizard). Evolutionary analyses indicate some members of the IIS network are rapidly evolving across reptile species, including IGF1, insulin (INS), and their receptors. In particular, IGF1 displays extensive nucleotide variation across lizards and snakes, which suggests that its functional role may vary across this group. In addition, genetic variation across families and populations in the response of the IIS network to environmental conditions illustrates that components of this network may be evolving in

  5. Bioactive Components in Fish Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Ziegman, Rebekah; Alewood, Paul

    2015-01-01

    Animal venoms are widely recognized excellent resources for the discovery of novel drug leads and physiological tools. Most are comprised of a large number of components, of which the enzymes, small peptides, and proteins are studied for their important bioactivities. However, in spite of there being over 2000 venomous fish species, piscine venoms have been relatively underrepresented in the literature thus far. Most studies have explored whole or partially fractioned venom, revealing broad pharmacology, which includes cardiovascular, neuromuscular, cytotoxic, inflammatory, and nociceptive activities. Several large proteinaceous toxins, such as stonustoxin, verrucotoxin, and Sp-CTx, have been isolated from scorpaenoid fish. These form pores in cell membranes, resulting in cell death and creating a cascade of reactions that result in many, but not all, of the physiological symptoms observed from envenomation. Additionally, Natterins, a novel family of toxins possessing kininogenase activity have been found in toadfish venom. A variety of smaller protein toxins, as well as a small number of peptides, enzymes, and non-proteinaceous molecules have also been isolated from a range of fish venoms, but most remain poorly characterized. Many other bioactive fish venom components remain to be discovered and investigated. These represent an untapped treasure of potentially useful molecules. PMID:25941767

  6. Bioactive components in fish venoms.

    PubMed

    Ziegman, Rebekah; Alewood, Paul

    2015-05-01

    Animal venoms are widely recognized excellent resources for the discovery of novel drug leads and physiological tools. Most are comprised of a large number of components, of which the enzymes, small peptides, and proteins are studied for their important bioactivities. However, in spite of there being over 2000 venomous fish species, piscine venoms have been relatively underrepresented in the literature thus far. Most studies have explored whole or partially fractioned venom, revealing broad pharmacology, which includes cardiovascular, neuromuscular, cytotoxic, inflammatory, and nociceptive activities. Several large proteinaceous toxins, such as stonustoxin, verrucotoxin, and Sp-CTx, have been isolated from scorpaenoid fish. These form pores in cell membranes, resulting in cell death and creating a cascade of reactions that result in many, but not all, of the physiological symptoms observed from envenomation. Additionally, Natterins, a novel family of toxins possessing kininogenase activity have been found in toadfish venom. A variety of smaller protein toxins, as well as a small number of peptides, enzymes, and non-proteinaceous molecules have also been isolated from a range of fish venoms, but most remain poorly characterized. Many other bioactive fish venom components remain to be discovered and investigated. These represent an untapped treasure of potentially useful molecules. PMID:25941767

  7. Polymerized soluble venom--human serum albumin

    SciTech Connect

    Patterson, R.; Suszko, I.M.; Grammer, L.C.

    1985-03-01

    Extensive previous studies have demonstrated that attempts to produce polymers of Hymenoptera venoms for human immunotherapy resulted in insoluble precipitates that could be injected with safety but with very limited immunogenicity in allergic patients. We now report soluble polymers prepared by conjugating bee venom with human serum albumin with glutaraldehyde. The bee venom-albumin polymer (BVAP) preparation was fractionated on Sephacryl S-300 to have a molecular weight range higher than catalase. /sup 125/I-labeled bee venom phospholipase A was almost completely incorporated into BVAP. Rabbit antibody responses to bee venom and bee venom phospholipase A were induced by BVAP. Human antisera against bee venom were absorbed by BVAP. No new antigenic determinants on BVAP were present as evidenced by absorption of antisera against BVAP by bee venom and albumin. BVAP has potential immunotherapeutic value in patients with anaphylactic sensitivity to bee venom.

  8. Transcriptome and proteome of Conus planorbis identify the nicotinic receptors as primary target for the defensive venom.

    PubMed

    Jin, Ai-Hua; Vetter, Irina; Himaya, Siddhihalu W A; Alewood, Paul F; Lewis, Richard J; Dutertre, Sébastien

    2015-12-01

    Most venomous predators have evolved complex venom primarily to immobilize their prey and secondarily to defend against predators. In a new paradigm, carnivorous marine gastropods of the genus Conus were shown to rapidly and reversibly switch between two types of venoms in response to predatory or defensive stimulus, suggesting that the defensive use of venom may have a more important role in venom evolution and specialization than previously thought. To further investigate this phenomenon, the defensive repertoire of a vermivorous species, Conus planorbis, was deciphered using second-generation sequencing coupled to high-throughput proteomics. The venom gland transcriptome of C. planorbis revealed 182 unique conotoxin precursors from 25 gene superfamilies, with superfamily T dominating in terms of read and paralog numbers. Analysis of the defense-evoked venom revealed that this vermivorous species uses a similarly complex arsenal to deter aggressors as more recently evolved fish- and mollusk-hunting species, with MS/MS validating 23 conotoxin sequences from six superfamilies. Pharmacological characterization of the defensive venom on human receptors identified the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors as a primary target. This work provides the first insights into the composition and biological activity of specifically evolved defensive venoms in vermivorous cone snails. PMID:26506909

  9. All about Reptiles. Animal Life for Children. [Videotape].

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    2000

    Dinosaurs may be extinct, but reptiles are distant cousins to the beasts that once walked the earth. From snakes and lizards to iguanas and tuataras, children learn what factors make them different from other animals. In this videotape, students explore the mysterious, often misunderstood, world of reptiles and learn about their characteristics…

  10. Amphibians and Reptiles from Paramakatoi and Kato, Guyana

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    MacCulloch, Ross D.; Reynolds, Robert P.

    2012-01-01

    We report the herpetofauna of two neighboring upland locations in west-central Guyana. Twenty amphibian and 24 reptile species were collected. Only 40% of amphibians and 12.5% of reptiles were collected in both locations. This is one of the few collections made at upland (750–800 m) locations in the Guiana Shield.

  11. Venom allergen 5 is Associated With Deltamethrin Resistance in Culex pipiens pallens (Diptera: Culicidae)

    PubMed Central

    Lv, Yuan; Lei, Zhentao; Hong, Shanchao; Wang, Weijie; Zhang, Donghui; Zhou, Dan; Sun, Yan; Ma, Lei; Shen, Bo; Zhu, Changliang

    2015-01-01

    The mosquito, Culex pipiens pallens (L.), is an important vector of encephalitis and filariasis in northern China. The control of these mosquitoes occurs primarily via the use of pyrethroid insecticides, such as deltamethrin. The widespread and improper application of pyrethroid has resulted in the evolution of pyrethroid resistance amongst many mosquito populations, including Cx. pipiens pallens. Previous studies using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing have identified that the venom allergen 5 gene is differentially expressed between deltamethrin-susceptible and deltamethrin-resistant Cx. pipiens pallens. In this study, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction analyses revealed that venom allergen 5 was significantly overexpressed in adult females of both deltamethrin-resistant laboratory populations and two field populations. The transcriptional level of venom allergen 5 in the laboratory populations was elevated as the levels of deltamethrin resistance increased. Full-length cDNAs of the venom allergen 5 gene were cloned from Cx. pipiens pallens, and contained an open reading frame of 765 bp, encoding a protein with 254 amino acids. The deduced amino acid sequence shared 100% identity with the ortholog in Culex quinquefasciatus Say. The overexpression of venom allergen 5 decreased the susceptibility of mosquito cells to deltamethrin, while knockdown of this gene by RNAi increased the susceptibility of mosquitoes to deltamethrin. This study provides the first evidence of the association between the venom allergen 5 gene and deltamethrin resistance in mosquitoes. PMID:26335474

  12. [Neuromuscular spindles of several amphibia and reptiles].

    PubMed

    Kurkina, E A

    1976-09-01

    The work presents data on the structure and innervation of the nerve-muscle spindles in the soleus of the lake from Rana ridibunda, Bufo bufo, turtle Testudo horsfieldi, lizzard Lacerta agilis. The animals under study were shown to have different structure and innervation of these receptors. The thickness of the spindle connective tissue capsule has certain correlation with the width of the subcapsular space. The innervation apparatus in the muscle spindles of reptiles and turtles are similar in the following: sensory nerve terminations in the equatorial area of the spindle are represented by reticulars, bushes, loops and in the lizzard there appear annulo-spirals with a small amount of coils. The character of motor nerve terminations in polar zones of intrafusal muscle fibres in the spindles of reptiles is similar to that of the extrafusal fibres: in the shape of "bayonets" and end bundles (Endbüuschel). In the muscle fibres of the turtle and lizzard in addition to typical motor plaques there occur trail endings. PMID:136238

  13. Partners in amphibian and reptile conservation 2013 annual report

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Conrad, Paulette M., (Edited By); Weir, Linda A.; Nanjappa, Priya

    2014-01-01

    Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) was established in 1999 to address the widespread declines, extinctions, and range reductions of amphibians and reptiles, with a focus on conservation of taxa and habitats in North America. Amphibians and reptiles are affected by a broad range of human activities, both as incidental effects of habitat alteration and direct effect from overexploitation; these animals are also challenged by the perception that amphibians and reptiles are either dangerous or of little environmental or economic value. However, PARC members understand these taxa are important parts of our natural an cultural heritage and they serve important roles in ecosystems throughout the world. With many amphibians and reptiles classified as threatened with extinction, conservation of these animals has never been more important.

  14. How the Venom from the Ectoparasitoid Wasp Nasonia vitripennis Exhibits Anti-Inflammatory Properties on Mammalian Cell Lines

    PubMed Central

    Danneels, Ellen L.; Gerlo, Sarah; Heyninck, Karen; Van Craenenbroeck, Kathleen; De Bosscher, Karolien; Haegeman, Guy; de Graaf, Dirk C.

    2014-01-01

    With more than 150,000 species, parasitoids are a large group of hymenopteran insects that inject venom into and then lay their eggs in or on other insects, eventually killing the hosts. Their venoms have evolved into different mechanisms for manipulating host immunity, physiology and behavior in such a way that enhance development of the parasitoid young. The venom from the ectoparasitoid Nasonia vitripennis inhibits the immune system in its host organism in order to protect their offspring from elimination. Since the major innate immune pathways in insects, the Toll and Imd pathways, are homologous to the NF-κB pathway in mammals, we were interested in whether a similar immune suppression seen in insects could be elicited in a mammalian cell system. A well characterized NF-κB reporter gene assay in fibrosarcoma cells showed a dose-dependent inhibition of NF-κB signaling caused by the venom. In line with this NF-κB inhibitory action, N. vitripennis venom dampened the expression of IL-6, a prototypical proinflammatory cytokine, from LPS-treated macrophages. The venom also inhibited the expression of two NF-κB target genes, IκBα and A20, that act in a negative feedback loop to prevent excessive NF-κB activity. Surprisingly, we did not detect any effect of the venom on the early events in the canonical NF-κB activation pathway, leading to NF-κB nuclear translocation, which was unaltered in venom-treated cells. The MAP kinases ERK, p38 and JNK are other crucial regulators of immune responses. We observed that venom treatment did not affect p38 and ERK activation, but induced a prolonged JNK activation. In summary, our data indicate that venom from N. vitripennis inhibits NF-κB signaling in mammalian cells. We identify venom-induced up regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor-regulated GILZ as a most likely molecular mediator for this inhibition. PMID:24821138

  15. Comparative Genomics of Campylobacter fetus from Reptiles and Mammals Reveals Divergent Evolution in Host-Associated Lineages.

    PubMed

    Gilbert, Maarten J; Miller, William G; Yee, Emma; Zomer, Aldert L; van der Graaf-van Bloois, Linda; Fitzgerald, Collette; Forbes, Ken J; Méric, Guillaume; Sheppard, Samuel K; Wagenaar, Jaap A; Duim, Birgitta

    2016-01-01

    Campylobacter fetus currently comprises three recognized subspecies, which display distinct host association. Campylobacter fetus subsp. fetus and C fetus subsp. venerealis are both associated with endothermic mammals, primarily ruminants, whereas C fetus subsp. testudinum is primarily associated with ectothermic reptiles. Both C. fetus subsp. testudinum and C. fetus subsp. fetus have been associated with severe infections, often with a systemic component, in immunocompromised humans. To study the genetic factors associated with the distinct host dichotomy in C. fetus, whole-genome sequencing and comparison of mammal- and reptile-associated C fetus was performed. The genomes of C fetus subsp. testudinum isolated from either reptiles or humans were compared with elucidate the genetic factors associated with pathogenicity in humans. Genomic comparisons showed conservation of gene content and organization among C fetus subspecies, but a clear distinction between mammal- and reptile-associated C fetus was observed. Several genomic regions appeared to be subspecies specific, including a putative tricarballylate catabolism pathway, exclusively present in C fetus subsp. testudinum strains. Within C fetus subsp. testudinum, sapA, sapB, and sapAB type strains were observed. The recombinant locus iamABC (mlaFED) was exclusively associated with invasive C fetus subsp. testudinum strains isolated from humans. A phylogenetic reconstruction was consistent with divergent evolution in host-associated strains and the existence of a barrier to lateral gene transfer between mammal- and reptile-associated C fetus Overall, this study shows that reptile-associated C fetus subsp. testudinum is genetically divergent from mammal-associated C fetus subspecies. PMID:27333878

  16. Comparative Genomics of Campylobacter fetus from Reptiles and Mammals Reveals Divergent Evolution in Host-Associated Lineages

    PubMed Central

    Gilbert, Maarten J.; Miller, William G.; Yee, Emma; Zomer, Aldert L.; van der Graaf-van Bloois, Linda; Fitzgerald, Collette; Forbes, Ken J.; Méric, Guillaume; Sheppard, Samuel K.; Wagenaar, Jaap A.; Duim, Birgitta

    2016-01-01

    Campylobacter fetus currently comprises three recognized subspecies, which display distinct host association. Campylobacter fetus subsp. fetus and C. fetus subsp. venerealis are both associated with endothermic mammals, primarily ruminants, whereas C. fetus subsp. testudinum is primarily associated with ectothermic reptiles. Both C. fetus subsp. testudinum and C. fetus subsp. fetus have been associated with severe infections, often with a systemic component, in immunocompromised humans. To study the genetic factors associated with the distinct host dichotomy in C. fetus, whole-genome sequencing and comparison of mammal- and reptile-associated C. fetus was performed. The genomes of C. fetus subsp. testudinum isolated from either reptiles or humans were compared with elucidate the genetic factors associated with pathogenicity in humans. Genomic comparisons showed conservation of gene content and organization among C. fetus subspecies, but a clear distinction between mammal- and reptile-associated C. fetus was observed. Several genomic regions appeared to be subspecies specific, including a putative tricarballylate catabolism pathway, exclusively present in C. fetus subsp. testudinum strains. Within C. fetus subsp. testudinum, sapA, sapB, and sapAB type strains were observed. The recombinant locus iamABC (mlaFED) was exclusively associated with invasive C. fetus subsp. testudinum strains isolated from humans. A phylogenetic reconstruction was consistent with divergent evolution in host-associated strains and the existence of a barrier to lateral gene transfer between mammal- and reptile-associated C. fetus. Overall, this study shows that reptile-associated C. fetus subsp. testudinum is genetically divergent from mammal-associated C. fetus subspecies. PMID:27333878

  17. Salmonella prevalence among reptiles in a zoo education setting.

    PubMed

    Hydeskov, H B; Guardabassi, L; Aalbaek, B; Olsen, K E P; Nielsen, S S; Bertelsen, M F

    2013-06-01

    Clinically healthy reptiles may shed Salmonella and therefore act as a potential zoonotic threat. Most people in Northern European countries are rarely exposed to reptiles, but many zoos have education departments where children have direct contact with this group of animals. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and serotype distribution of Salmonella among reptiles in the Education Department (n = 55) at Copenhagen Zoo and compare it to the Zoo's main reptile collection (n = 145) to evaluate the zoonotic risk. Salmonella was isolated from cloacal swabs by selective enrichment, and a single isolate from each positive sample was further identified by biochemical tests and serotyped. The overall prevalence was 35% (69/200) with significant difference between the Education Department (64%, 35/55) and the main reptile collection (23%, 34/145). A total of 28 serotypes were detected. Ten serotypes were isolated from more than one specimen and four from more than one species. Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Eastbourne was the predominant serotype (32%, 22/69) and was also the serotype isolated from most reptile species (n = 7). Transmission of serotypes from one department to another was very limited indicated by the serotype distribution. Despite the relative high prevalence observed among the reptiles in the Zoo's Education Department compared to the reptiles in the Zoo's main reptile collection, no Salmonella cases have been linked to the Zoo, and Salmonella ser. Eastbourne is very rarely isolated from humans in Denmark. Simple hygienic procedures such as hand washing which is consistently carried out following handling of reptiles at the Education Department may reduce the risk and therefore contribute to this low prevalence. PMID:22835051

  18. Biochemical and molecular characterization of the venom from the Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus.

    PubMed

    García-Gómez, B I; Coronas, F I V; Restano-Cassulini, R; Rodríguez, R R; Possani, L D

    2011-07-01

    This communication describes the first general biochemical, molecular and functional characterization of the venom from the Cuban blue scorpion Rhopalurus junceus, which is often used as a natural product for anti-cancer therapy in Cuba. The soluble venom of this arachnid is not toxic to mice, injected intraperitoneally at doses up to 200 μg/20 g body weight, but it is deadly to insects at doses of 10 μg per animal. The venom causes typical alpha and beta-effects on Na+ channels, when assayed using patch-clamp techniques in neuroblastoma cells in vitro. It also affects K+ currents conducted by ERG (ether-a-go-go related gene) channels. The soluble venom was shown to display phospholipase, hyaluronidase and anti-microbial activities. High performance liquid chromatography of the soluble venom can separate at least 50 components, among which are peptides lethal to crickets. Four such peptides were isolated to homogeneity and their molecular masses and N-terminal amino acid sequence were determined. The major component (RjAa12f) was fully sequenced by Edman degradation. It contains 64 amino acid residues and four disulfide bridges, similar to other known scorpion toxins. A cDNA library prepared from the venomous glands of one scorpion allowed cloning 18 genes that code for peptides of the venom, including RjA12f and eleven other closely related genes. Sequence analyses and phylogenetic reconstruction of the amino acid sequences deduced from the cloned genes showed that this scorpion contains sodium channel like toxin sequences clearly segregated into two monophyletic clusters. Considering the complex set of effects on Na+ currents verified here, this venom certainly warrant further investigation. PMID:21605585

  19. Transcriptome analysis provides insight into venom evolution in a seed-parasitic wasp, Megastigmus spermotrophus.

    PubMed

    Paulson, A R; Le, C H; Dickson, J C; Ehlting, J; von Aderkas, P; Perlman, S J

    2016-10-01

    One of the most striking host range transitions is the evolution of plant parasitism from animal parasitism. Parasitoid wasps that have secondarily evolved to attack plants (ie gall wasps and seed-feeders) demonstrate intimate associations with their hosts, yet the mechanism of plant-host manipulation is currently not known. There is, however, emerging evidence suggesting that ovipositional secretions play a role in plant manipulation. To investigate whether parasites have modified pre-existing adaptations to facilitate dramatic host shifts we aimed to characterize the expression of venom proteins in a plant parasite using a collection of parasitoid venom sequences as a guide. The transcriptome of a seed-feeding wasp, Megastigmus spermotrophus, was assembled de novo and three putative venoms were found to be highly expressed in adult females. One of these putative venoms, aspartylglucosaminidase, has been previously identified as a major venom component in two distantly related parasitoid wasps (Asobara tabida and Leptopilina heterotoma) and may have originated via gene duplication within the Hymenoptera. Our study shows that M. spermotrophus, a specialized plant parasite, expresses putative venom transcripts that share homology to venoms identified in Nasonia vitripennis (both superfamily Chalcidoidea), which suggests that M. spermotrophus may have co-opted pre-existing machinery to develop as a plant parasite. PMID:27286234

  20. Molecular cloning and characterization of a venom phospholipase A2 from the bumblebee Bombus ignitus.

    PubMed

    Xin, Yu; Choo, Young Moo; Hu, Zhigang; Lee, Kwang Sik; Yoon, Hyung Joo; Cui, Zheng; Sohn, Hung Dae; Jin, Byung Rae

    2009-10-01

    Phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)) is one of the main components of bee venom. Here, we identify a venom PLA(2) from the bumblebee, Bombus ignitus. Bumblebee venom PLA(2) (Bi-PLA(2)) cDNA, which was identified by searching B. ignitus venom gland expressed sequence tags, encodes a 180 amino acid protein. Comparison of the genomic sequence with the cDNA sequence revealed the presence of four exons and three introns in the Bi-PLA(2) gene. Bi-PLA(2) is an 18-kDa glycoprotein. It is expressed in the venom gland, cleaved between the residues Arg44 and Ile45, and then stored in the venom sac. Comparative analysis revealed that the mature Bi-PLA(2) (136 amino acids) possesses features consistent with other bee PLA(2)s, including ten conserved cysteine residues, as well as a highly conserved Ca(2+)-binding site and active site. Phylogenetic analysis of bee PLA(2)s separated the bumblebee and honeybee PLA(2) proteins into two groups. The mature Bi-PLA(2) purified from the venom of B. ignitus worker bees hydrolyzed DBPC, a known substrate of PLA(2). Immunofluorescence staining of Bi-PLA(2)-treated insect Sf9 cells revealed that Bi-PLA(2) binds at the cell membrane and induces apoptotic cell death. PMID:19539776

  1. Conus venom peptide pharmacology.

    PubMed

    Lewis, Richard J; Dutertre, Sébastien; Vetter, Irina; Christie, MacDonald J

    2012-04-01

    Conopeptides are a diverse group of recently evolved venom peptides used for prey capture and/or defense. Each species of cone snails produces in excess of 1000 conopeptides, with those pharmacologically characterized (≈ 0.1%) targeting a diverse range of membrane proteins typically with high potency and specificity. The majority of conopeptides inhibit voltage- or ligand-gated ion channels, providing valuable research tools for the dissection of the role played by specific ion channels in excitable cells. It is noteworthy that many of these targets are found to be expressed in pain pathways, with several conopeptides having entered the clinic as potential treatments for pain [e.g., pyroglutamate1-MrIA (Xen2174)] and one now marketed for intrathecal treatment of severe pain [ziconotide (Prialt)]. This review discusses the diversity, pharmacology, structure-activity relationships, and therapeutic potential of cone snail venom peptide families acting at voltage-gated ion channels (ω-, μ-, μO-, δ-, ι-, and κ-conotoxins), ligand-gated ion channels (α-conotoxins, σ-conotoxin, ikot-ikot, and conantokins), G-protein-coupled receptors (ρ-conopeptides, conopressins, and contulakins), and neurotransmitter transporters (χ-conopeptides), with expanded discussion on the clinical potential of sodium and calcium channel inhibitors and α-conotoxins. Expanding the discovery of new bioactives using proteomic/transcriptomic approaches combined with high-throughput platforms and better defining conopeptide structure-activity relationships using relevant membrane protein crystal structures are expected to grow the already significant impact conopeptides have had as both research probes and leads to new therapies. PMID:22407615

  2. The pharmacological activity of fish venoms.

    PubMed

    Church, Jarrod E; Hodgson, Wayne C

    2002-08-01

    Venomous creatures have been the source of much recent research in the effort to find novel physiological tools and pharmaceuticals. However, due to the technical difficulties with obtaining and storing venom extracts, the venoms of marine animals, particularly fish, remain a largely untapped source of novel compounds. The most potent effects of piscine venoms are on the cardiovascular system. All piscine venoms produce profound cardiovascular changes, both in vitro and in vivo, including the release of nitric oxide from endothelial cells, smooth muscle contraction, and differing effects on atria. Although there is a complex balance between different components of the venom response, similarities exist between the responses to the venoms of all species of fish. In addition to their cardiovascular effects, piscine venoms possess neuromuscular activity. Once again, the activities of most piscine venoms are very similar, usually consisting of a depolarising action on both nerve and muscle cells. Most piscine venoms have potent cytolytic activity, and it seems likely that this activity is the mechanism behind many of their cardiovascular and neuromuscular effects. Piscine venoms all seem to share similar activity, probably as a result of evolving for a common purpose, and cross-reactivity with stonefish antivenom, both functionally in experimental models and in Western immunoblotting analysis, suggesting that piscine venoms may also possess structural similarities in addition to their functional similarities. PMID:12165309

  3. Connectivity maps for biosimilar drug discovery in venoms: the case of Gila monster venom and the anti-diabetes drug Byetta®.

    PubMed

    Aramadhaka, Lavakumar Reddy; Prorock, Alyson; Dragulev, Bojan; Bao, Yongde; Fox, Jay W

    2013-07-01

    Like most natural product libraries animal venoms have long been recognized as potentially rich source of biologically active molecules with the potential to be mined for the discovery of drugs, drug leads and/or biosimilars. In this work we demonstrate as a proof of concept a novel approach to explore venoms for potential biosimilarity to other drugs based on their ability to alter the transcriptomes of test cell lines followed by informatic searches and Connectivity Mapping to match the action of the venom on the cell gene expression to that of other drugs in the Connectivity Map (C-Map) database. As our test animal venom we chose Heloderma suspectum venom (Gila monster) since exendin-4, a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist, isolated from the venom is currently on the market to treat type 2 diabetes. The action of Byetta(®) (exentide, synthetic exendin-4), was also used in transcriptome studies. Analysis of transcriptomes from cells treated with the venom or the drug showed similarities as well as differences. The former case was primarily attributed to the fact that Gila monster venom likely contains a variety of biologically active molecules that could alter the MCF7 cell transcriptome compared to that of the single perturbant Byetta(®). Using Ingenuity Pathway Analysis software, insulin-like growth factor 1 signaling was identified in the category of "Top Canonical Pathways" for both the venom and Byetta(®). In the category of "Top Molecules" up-regulated, both venom and Byetta(®) shared IL-8, cyclic AMP-dependent transcription factor 3 (ATF-3), neuron-derived orphan receptor 1 (NR4A3), dexamethasone-induced Ras-related protein 1 (RASD1) and early growth response protein 1, (EGR-1) all with potential relevance in diabetes. Using Connectivity Mapping, Gila monster venom showed positive correlation with 1732 instances and negative correlation with 793 instances in the Connectivity database whereas Byetta(®) showed positive correlation with 1692

  4. Caution: Reptile pets shuttle grasshopper allergy and asthma into homes.

    PubMed

    Jensen-Jarolim, Erika; Pali-Schöll, Isabella; Jensen, Sebastian A F; Robibaro, Bruno; Kinaciyan, Tamar

    2015-01-01

    The numbers of reptiles in homes has at least doubled in the last decade in Europe and the USA. Reptile purchases are increasingly triggered by the attempt to avoid potentially allergenic fur pets like dogs and cats. Consequently, reptiles are today regarded as surrogate pets initiating a closer relationship with the owner than ever previously observed. Reptile pets are mostly fed with insects, especially grasshoppers and/or locusts, which are sources for aggressive airborne allergens, best known from occupational insect breeder allergies. Exposure in homes thus introduces a new form of domestic allergy to grasshoppers and related insects. Accordingly, an 8-year old boy developed severe bronchial hypersensitivity and asthma within 4 months after purchase of a bearded dragon. The reptile was held in the living room and regularly fed with living grasshoppers. In the absence of a serological allergy diagnosis test, an IgE immunoblot on grasshopper extract and prick-to-prick test confirmed specific sensitization to grasshoppers. After 4 years of allergen avoidance, a single respiratory exposure was sufficient to trigger a severe asthma attack again in the patient. Based on literature review and the clinical example we conclude that reptile keeping is associated with introducing potent insect allergens into home environments. Patient interviews during diagnostic procedure should therefore by default include the question about reptile pets in homes. PMID:26322151

  5. [Strategies for Conservation of Endangered Amphibian and Reptile Species].

    PubMed

    Anan'eva, N B; Uteshev, V K; Orlova, N L; Gakhova, E N

    2015-01-01

    Strategies for conservation of endangered amphibian and reptile species are discussed. One-fifth of all vertebrates belongs to the category of "endangered species," and amphibians are first on the list (41%). Every fifth reptile species is in danger of extinction, and insufficient information is characteristic of every other fifth. As has been demonstrated, efficient development of a network of nature conservation areas, cryopreservation, and methods for laboratory breeding and reintroduction play.the key roles in adequate strategies for preservation of amphibians and reptiles. PMID:26638239

  6. Tityus serrulatus venom peptidomics: assessing venom peptide diversity.

    PubMed

    Rates, Breno; Ferraz, Karla K F; Borges, Márcia H; Richardson, Michael; De Lima, Maria Elena; Pimenta, Adriano M C

    2008-10-01

    MALDI-TOF-TOF and de novo sequencing were employed to assess the Tityus serrulatus venom peptide diversity. Previous works has shown the cornucopia of molecular masses, ranging from 800 to 3000Da, present in the venom from this and other scorpions species. This work reports the identification/sequencing of several of these peptides. The majority of the peptides found were fragments of larger venom toxins. For instance, 28 peptides could be identified as fragments from Pape proteins, 10 peptides corresponded to N-terminal fragments of the TsK beta (scorpine-like) toxin and fragments of potassium channel toxins (other than the k-beta) were sequenced as well. N-terminal fragments from the T. serrulatus hypotensins-I and II and a novel hypotensin-like peptide could also be found. This work also reports the sequencing of novel peptides without sequence similarities to other known molecules. PMID:18718845

  7. Diagnostic uses of snake venom.

    PubMed

    Marsh, N A

    2001-01-01

    Snake venom toxins are invaluable for the assay of coagulation factors and for the study of haemostasis generally. Thrombin-like enzymes (SVTLE) are used for fibrinogen and fibrinogen breakdown product assays as well as detecting dysfibrinogenaemias. Since SVTLE are not inhibited by heparin, they can be used for assaying antithrombin III in samples containing heparin. Snake venom prothrombin activators are utilised in prothrombin assays, whilst Russell's viper venom (RVV) can be used to assay clotting factors V, VII, X and lupus anticoagulants (LA). Activators from the taipan, Australian brown snake and saw-scaled viper have also been used to assay LA. Protein C (PC) and activated PC (APC) resistance can be measured by means of RVV, Protac (from Southern copperhead snake venom) and STA-Staclot (from Crotalus viridis helleri) whilst von Willebrand factor can be studied with Botrocetin (Bothrops jararaca). Finally, snake venom C-type lectins and metalloproteinase disintegrins are being used to study platelet glycoprotein receptors and show great potential for use in the routine coagulation laboratory. PMID:11910187

  8. Venomic and pharmacological activity of Acanthoscurria paulensis (Theraphosidae) spider venom.

    PubMed

    Mourão, Caroline Barbosa F; Oliveira, Fagner Neves; e Carvalho, Andréa C; Arenas, Claudia J; Duque, Harry Morales; Gonçalves, Jacqueline C; Macêdo, Jéssica K A; Galante, Priscilla; Schwartz, Carlos A; Mortari, Márcia R; Almeida Santos, Maria de Fátima M; Schwartz, Elisabeth F

    2013-01-01

    In the present study we conducted proteomic and pharmacological characterizations of the venom extracted from the Brazilian tarantula Acanthoscurria paulensis, and evaluated the cardiotoxicity of its two main fractions. The molecular masses of the venom components were identified by mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) after chromatographic separation (HPLC). The lethal dose (LD(50)) was determined in mice. Nociceptive behavior was evaluated by intradermal injection in mice and the edematogenic activity by the rat hind-paw assay. Cardiotoxic activity was evaluated on in situ frog heart and on isolated frog ventricle strip. From 60 chromatographic fractions, 97 distinct components were identified, with molecular masses between 601.4 and 21,932.3 Da. A trimodal molecular mass distribution was observed: 30% of the components within 500-1999 Da, 38% within 3500-5999 Da and 21% within 6500-7999 Da. The LD(50) in mice was 25.4 ± 2.4 μg/g and the effects observed were hypoactivity, anuria, constipation, dyspnea and prostration until death, which occurred at higher doses. Despite presenting a dose-dependent edematogenic activity in the rat hind-paw assay, the venom had no nociceptive activity in mice. Additionally, the venom induced a rapid blockage of electrical activity and subsequent diastolic arrest on in situ frog heart preparation, which was inhibited by pretreatment with atropine. In the electrically driven frog ventricle strip, the whole venom and its low molecular mass fraction, but not the proteic one, induced a negative inotropic effect that was also inhibited by atropine. These results suggest that despite low toxicity, A. paulensis venom can induce severe physiological disturbances in mice. PMID:23178240

  9. Irradiated Cerastes cerastes venom as a novel tool for immunotherapy.

    PubMed

    Oussedik-Oumehdi, Habiba; Laraba-Djebari, Fatima

    2008-01-01

    Immunotherapy is the most effective treatment for the snake bites. The antivenoms are commonly obtained by hyperimmunization of animals that suffer from venom toxicity. The present report describes gamma irradiation effects on Cerastes cerastes venom. Doses of 1 kGy and 2 kGy gamma radiations were used for venom detoxification. These treated venoms did not have any residual lethal effects until 10 LD(50). Immunological analysis of sera raised against native and irradiated venoms, showed that elicited antibodies to irradiated venoms were able to recognize native venom. Anti-2 kGy irradiated venom had more protective ability than anti-native venom, as tested in mice. PMID:18306103

  10. Uncovering intense protein diversification in a cone snail venom gland using an integrative venomics approach.

    PubMed

    Biass, Daniel; Violette, Aude; Hulo, Nicolas; Lisacek, Frédérique; Favreau, Philippe; Stöcklin, Reto

    2015-02-01

    Marine cone snail venoms are highly complex mixtures of peptides and proteins. They have been studied in-depth over the past 3 decades, but the modus operandi of the venomous apparatus still remains unclear. Using the fish-hunting Conus consors as a model, we present an integrative venomics approach, based on new proteomic results from the venom gland and data previously obtained from the transcriptome and the injectable venom. We describe here the complete peptide content of the dissected venom by the identification of numerous new peptides using nanospray tandem mass spectrometry in combination with transcriptomic data. Results reveal extensive mature peptide diversification mechanisms at work in the venom gland. In addition, by integrating data from three different venom stages, transcriptome, dissected, and injectable venoms, from a single species, we obtain a global overview of the venom processing that occurs from the venom gland tissue to the venom delivery step. In the light of the successive steps in this venom production system, we demonstrate that each venom compartment is highly specific in terms of peptide and protein content. Moreover, the integrated investigative approach discussed here could become an essential part of pharmaceutical development, as it provides new potential drug candidates and opens the door to numerous analogues generated by the very mechanisms used by nature to diversify its peptide and protein arsenal. PMID:25536169

  11. Venom gland transcriptomics for identifying, cataloging, and characterizing venom proteins in snakes.

    PubMed

    Brahma, Rajeev Kungur; McCleary, Ryan J R; Kini, R Manjunatha; Doley, Robin

    2015-01-01

    Snake venoms are cocktails of protein toxins that play important roles in capture and digestion of prey. Significant qualitative and quantitative variation in snake venom composition has been observed among and within species. Understanding these variations in protein components is instrumental in interpreting clinical symptoms during human envenomation and in searching for novel venom proteins with potential therapeutic applications. In the last decade, transcriptomic analyses of venom glands have helped in understanding the composition of various snake venoms in great detail. Here we review transcriptomic analysis as a powerful tool for understanding venom profile, variation and evolution. PMID:25448392

  12. The current status of amphibian and reptile ecotoxicological research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sparling, D.W.; Bishop, C.A.; Linder, G.

    2000-01-01

    The extent of research conducted on the effects of contaminants on reptiles and amphibians has been scant compared to that of other vertebrate classes including fishes, birds and mammals. In a review of literature from 1972 until 1998 we found that only about 2.7% of the papers published on ecotoxicology in vertebrates concerned amphibians and 1.4% for reptiles. Most studies on amphibian ecotoxicology were on metals, pesticides, and acid deposition. For reptiles the greatest frequency of papers included metals, organochlorines, and others. In proportion to the taxonomic importance, far more papers were written on turtles than on other reptile orders. Most of the papers dealt with residues and very few dealt with effects of contaminant exposure.

  13. Invasive and introduced reptiles and amphibians: Chapter 28

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reed, Robert N.; Krysko, Kenneth L.

    2014-01-01

    Why is there a section on introduced amphibians and reptiles in this volume, and why should veterinarians care about this issue? Globally, invasive species are a major threat to the stability of native ecosystems,1,2 and amphibians and reptiles are attracting increased attention as potential invaders. Some introduced amphibians and reptiles have had a major impact (e.g., Brown Tree Snakes [Boiga irregularis] wiping out the native birds of Guam3 or Cane Toads [Rhinella marina] poisoning native Australian predators).4 For the vast majority of species, however, the ecological, economic, and sociopolitical effects of introduced amphibians and reptiles are generally poorly quantified, largely because of a lack of focused research effort rather than because such effects are nonexistent. This trend is alarming given that rates of introduction have increased exponentially in recent decades.

  14. Salmonella serotypes in reptiles and humans, French Guiana.

    PubMed

    Gay, Noellie; Le Hello, Simon; Weill, François-Xavier; de Thoisy, Benoit; Berger, Franck

    2014-05-14

    In French Guiana, a French overseas territory located in the South American northern coast, nearly 50% of Salmonella serotypes isolated from human infections belong to serotypes rarely encountered in metropolitan France. A reptilian source of contamination has been investigated. Between April and June 2011, in the area around Cayenne, 151 reptiles were collected: 38 lizards, 37 snakes, 32 turtles, 23 green iguanas and 21 caimans. Cloacal swab samples were collected and cultured. Isolated Salmonella strains were identified biochemically and serotyped. The overall carriage frequency of carriage was 23.2% (95% confidence interval: 16.7-30.4) with 23 serotyped strains. The frequency of Salmonella carriage was significantly higher for wild reptiles. Near two-thirds of the Salmonella serotypes isolated from reptiles were also isolated from patients in French Guiana. Our results highlight the risk associated with the handling and consumption of reptiles and their role in the spread of Salmonella in the environment. PMID:24560590

  15. Extinction Risks and the Conservation of Madagascar's Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Jenkins, Richard K. B.; Tognelli, Marcelo F.; Bowles, Philip; Cox, Neil; Brown, Jason L.; Chan, Lauren; Andreone, Franco; Andriamazava, Alain; Andriantsimanarilafy, Raphali R.; Anjeriniaina, Mirana; Bora, Parfait; Brady, Lee D.; Hantalalaina, Elisoa F.; Glaw, Frank; Griffiths, Richard A.; Hilton-Taylor, Craig; Hoffmann, Michael; Katariya, Vineet; Rabibisoa, Nirhy H.; Rafanomezantsoa, Jeannot; Rakotomalala, Domoina; Rakotondravony, Hery; Rakotondrazafy, Ny A.; Ralambonirainy, Johans; Ramanamanjato, Jean-Baptiste; Randriamahazo, Herilala; Randrianantoandro, J. Christian; Randrianasolo, Harison H.; Randrianirina, Jasmin E.; Randrianizahana, Hiarinirina; Raselimanana, Achille P.; Rasolohery, Andriambolantsoa; Ratsoavina, Fanomezana M.; Raxworthy, Christopher J.; Robsomanitrandrasana, Eric; Rollande, Finoana; van Dijk, Peter P.; Yoder, Anne D.; Vences, Miguel

    2014-01-01

    Background An understanding of the conservation status of Madagascar's endemic reptile species is needed to underpin conservation planning and priority setting in this global biodiversity hotspot, and to complement existing information on the island's mammals, birds and amphibians. We report here on the first systematic assessment of the extinction risk of endemic and native non-marine Malagasy snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises. Methodology/Principal Findings Species range maps from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species were analysed to determine patterns in the distribution of threatened reptile species. These data, in addition to information on threats, were used to identify priority areas and actions for conservation. Thirty-nine percent of the data-sufficient Malagasy reptiles in our analyses are threatened with extinction. Areas in the north, west and south-east were identified as having more threatened species than expected and are therefore conservation priorities. Habitat degradation caused by wood harvesting and non-timber crops was the most pervasive threat. The direct removal of reptiles for international trade and human consumption threatened relatively few species, but were the primary threats for tortoises. Nine threatened reptile species are endemic to recently created protected areas. Conclusions/Significance With a few alarming exceptions, the threatened endemic reptiles of Madagascar occur within the national network of protected areas, including some taxa that are only found in new protected areas. Threats to these species, however, operate inside and outside protected area boundaries. This analysis has identified priority sites for reptile conservation and completes the conservation assessment of terrestrial vertebrates in Madagascar which will facilitate conservation planning, monitoring and wise-decision making. In sharp contrast with the amphibians, there is significant reptile diversity and regional endemism in the southern and

  16. The conservation status of the world’s reptiles

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Böhm, Monika; Reynolds, Robert P.; and others

    2013-01-01

    Effective and targeted conservation action requires detailed information about species, their distribution, systematics and ecology as well as the distribution of threat processes which affect them. Knowledge of reptilian diversity remains surprisingly disparate, and innovative means of gaining rapid insight into the status of reptiles are needed in order to highlight urgent conservation cases and inform environmental policy with appropriate biodiversity information in a timely manner. We present the first ever global analysis of extinction risk in reptiles, based on a random representative sample of 1500 species (16% of all currently known species). To our knowledge, our results provide the first analysis of the global conservation status and distribution patterns of reptiles and the threats affecting them, highlighting conservation priorities and knowledge gaps which need to be addressed urgently to ensure the continued survival of the world’s reptiles. Nearly one in five reptilian species are threatened with extinction, with another one in five species classed as Data Deficient. The proportion of threatened reptile species is highest in freshwater environments, tropical regions and on oceanic islands, while data deficiency was highest in tropical areas, such as Central Africa and Southeast Asia, and among fossorial reptiles. Our results emphasise the need for research attention to be focussed on tropical areas which are experiencing the most dramatic rates of habitat loss, on fossorial reptiles for which there is a chronic lack of data, and on certain taxa such as snakes for which extinction risk may currently be underestimated due to lack of population information. Conservation actions specifically need to mitigate the effects of human-induced habitat loss and harvesting, which are the predominant threats to reptiles.

  17. Stable isotopes may provide evidence for starvation in reptiles.

    PubMed

    McCue, Marshall D; Pollock, Erik D

    2008-08-01

    Previous studies have attempted to correlate stable isotope signatures of tissues with the nutritional condition of birds, mammals, fishes, and invertebrates. Unfortunately, very little is known about the relationship between food limitation and the isotopic composition of reptiles. We examined the effects that starvation has on delta13C and delta15N signatures in the tissues (excreta, carcass, scales, and claws) of six, distantly related squamate reptiles (gaboon vipers, Bitis gabonica; ball pythons, Python regius; ratsnakes, Elaphe obsoleta; boa constrictors, Boa constrictor; western diamondback rattlesnakes, Crotalus atrox, and savannah monitor lizards, Varanus exanthematicus). Analyses revealed that the isotopic composition of reptile carcasses did not change significantly in response to bouts of starvation lasting up to 168 days. In contrast, the isotopic signatures of reptile excreta became significantly enriched in 15N and depleted in 13C during starvation. The isotopic signatures of reptile scales and lizard claws were less indicative of starvation time than those of excreta. We discuss the physiological mechanisms that might be responsible for the starvation-induced changes in 13C and 15N signatures in the excreta, and present a mixing model to describe the shift in excreted nitrogen source pools (i.e. from a labile source pool to a nonlabile source pool) that apparently occurs during starvation in these animals. The results of this study suggest that naturally occurring stable isotopes might ultimately have some utility for characterizing nitrogen and carbon stress among free-living reptiles. PMID:18613003

  18. First Large-Scale DNA Barcoding Assessment of Reptiles in the Biodiversity Hotspot of Madagascar, Based on Newly Designed COI Primers

    PubMed Central

    Nagy, Zoltán T.; Sonet, Gontran; Glaw, Frank; Vences, Miguel

    2012-01-01

    Background DNA barcoding of non-avian reptiles based on the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene is still in a very early stage, mainly due to technical problems. Using a newly developed set of reptile-specific primers for COI we present the first comprehensive study targeting the entire reptile fauna of the fourth-largest island in the world, the biodiversity hotspot of Madagascar. Methodology/Principal Findings Representatives of the majority of Madagascan non-avian reptile species (including Squamata and Testudines) were sampled and successfully DNA barcoded. The new primer pair achieved a constantly high success rate (72.7–100%) for most squamates. More than 250 species of reptiles (out of the 393 described ones; representing around 64% of the known diversity of species) were barcoded. The average interspecific genetic distance within families ranged from a low of 13.4% in the Boidae to a high of 29.8% in the Gekkonidae. Using the average genetic divergence between sister species as a threshold, 41–48 new candidate (undescribed) species were identified. Simulations were used to evaluate the performance of DNA barcoding as a function of completeness of taxon sampling and fragment length. Compared with available multi-gene phylogenies, DNA barcoding correctly assigned most samples to species, genus and family with high confidence and the analysis of fewer taxa resulted in an increased number of well supported lineages. Shorter marker-lengths generally decreased the number of well supported nodes, but even mini-barcodes of 100 bp correctly assigned many samples to genus and family. Conclusions/Significance The new protocols might help to promote DNA barcoding of reptiles and the established library of reference DNA barcodes will facilitate the molecular identification of Madagascan reptiles. Our results might be useful to easily recognize undescribed diversity (i.e. novel taxa), to resolve taxonomic problems, and to monitor the international pet trade

  19. Current extinction rates of reptiles and amphibians

    PubMed Central

    Alroy, John

    2015-01-01

    There is broad concern that a mass extinction of amphibians and reptiles is now underway. Here I apply an extremely conservative Bayesian method to estimate the number of recent amphibian and squamate extinctions in nine important tropical and subtropical regions. The data stem from a combination of museum collection databases and published site surveys. The method computes an extinction probability for each species by considering its sighting frequency and last sighting date. It infers hardly any extinction when collection dates are randomized and it provides underestimates when artificial extinction events are imposed. The method also appears to be insensitive to trends in sampling; therefore, the counts it provides are absolute minimums. Extinctions or severe population crashes have accumulated steadily since the 1970s and 1980s, and at least 3.1% of frog species have already disappeared. Based on these data and this conservative method, the best estimate of the global grand total is roughly 200 extinctions. Consistent with previous results, frog losses are heavy in Latin America, which has been greatly affected by the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Extinction rates are now four orders-of-magnitude higher than background, and at least another 6.9% of all frog species may be lost within the next century, even if there is no acceleration in the growth of environmental threats. PMID:26438855

  20. Current extinction rates of reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    Alroy, John

    2015-10-20

    There is broad concern that a mass extinction of amphibians and reptiles is now underway. Here I apply an extremely conservative Bayesian method to estimate the number of recent amphibian and squamate extinctions in nine important tropical and subtropical regions. The data stem from a combination of museum collection databases and published site surveys. The method computes an extinction probability for each species by considering its sighting frequency and last sighting date. It infers hardly any extinction when collection dates are randomized and it provides underestimates when artificial extinction events are imposed. The method also appears to be insensitive to trends in sampling; therefore, the counts it provides are absolute minimums. Extinctions or severe population crashes have accumulated steadily since the 1970s and 1980s, and at least 3.1% of frog species have already disappeared. Based on these data and this conservative method, the best estimate of the global grand total is roughly 200 extinctions. Consistent with previous results, frog losses are heavy in Latin America, which has been greatly affected by the pathogenic chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Extinction rates are now four orders-of-magnitude higher than background, and at least another 6.9% of all frog species may be lost within the next century, even if there is no acceleration in the growth of environmental threats. PMID:26438855

  1. Colubrid Venom Composition: An -Omics Perspective

    PubMed Central

    Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio L. M.; Campos, Pollyanna F.; Ching, Ana T. C.; Mackessy, Stephen P.

    2016-01-01

    Snake venoms have been subjected to increasingly sensitive analyses for well over 100 years, but most research has been restricted to front-fanged snakes, which actually represent a relatively small proportion of extant species of advanced snakes. Because rear-fanged snakes are a diverse and distinct radiation of the advanced snakes, understanding venom composition among “colubrids” is critical to understanding the evolution of venom among snakes. Here we review the state of knowledge concerning rear-fanged snake venom composition, emphasizing those toxins for which protein or transcript sequences are available. We have also added new transcriptome-based data on venoms of three species of rear-fanged snakes. Based on this compilation, it is apparent that several components, including cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRiSPs), C-type lectins (CTLs), CTLs-like proteins and snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs), are broadly distributed among “colubrid” venoms, while others, notably three-finger toxins (3FTxs), appear nearly restricted to the Colubridae (sensu stricto). Some putative new toxins, such as snake venom matrix metalloproteinases, are in fact present in several colubrid venoms, while others are only transcribed, at lower levels. This work provides insights into the evolution of these toxin classes, but because only a small number of species have been explored, generalizations are still rather limited. It is likely that new venom protein families await discovery, particularly among those species with highly specialized diets. PMID:27455326

  2. Colubrid Venom Composition: An -Omics Perspective.

    PubMed

    Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio L M; Campos, Pollyanna F; Ching, Ana T C; Mackessy, Stephen P

    2016-01-01

    Snake venoms have been subjected to increasingly sensitive analyses for well over 100 years, but most research has been restricted to front-fanged snakes, which actually represent a relatively small proportion of extant species of advanced snakes. Because rear-fanged snakes are a diverse and distinct radiation of the advanced snakes, understanding venom composition among "colubrids" is critical to understanding the evolution of venom among snakes. Here we review the state of knowledge concerning rear-fanged snake venom composition, emphasizing those toxins for which protein or transcript sequences are available. We have also added new transcriptome-based data on venoms of three species of rear-fanged snakes. Based on this compilation, it is apparent that several components, including cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRiSPs), C-type lectins (CTLs), CTLs-like proteins and snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs), are broadly distributed among "colubrid" venoms, while others, notably three-finger toxins (3FTxs), appear nearly restricted to the Colubridae (sensu stricto). Some putative new toxins, such as snake venom matrix metalloproteinases, are in fact present in several colubrid venoms, while others are only transcribed, at lower levels. This work provides insights into the evolution of these toxin classes, but because only a small number of species have been explored, generalizations are still rather limited. It is likely that new venom protein families await discovery, particularly among those species with highly specialized diets. PMID:27455326

  3. Species identification from dried snake venom.

    PubMed

    Singh, Chandra S; Gaur, Ajay; Sreenivas, Ara; Singh, Lalji

    2012-05-01

    Illegal trade in snake parts has increased enormously. In spite of strict protection under wildlife act, a large number of snakes are being killed ruthlessly in India for venom and skin. Here, an interesting case involving confiscation of crystallized dried snake venom and subsequent DNA-based species identification is reported. The analysis using the universal primers for cytochrome b region of the mitochondrial DNA revealed that the venom was extracted from an Indian cobra (Naja naja). On the basis of this report, the forwarding authority booked a case in the court of law against the accused for illegal hunting of an endangered venomous snake and smuggling of snake venom. This approach thus has immense potential for rapid identification of snake species facing endangerment because of illegal trade. This is also the first report of DNA isolation from dried snake venom for species identification. PMID:22268640

  4. [The threat of snake and scorpion venoms].

    PubMed

    Płusa, Tadeusz; Smędzik, Katarzyna

    2015-09-01

    Venoms of snakes and scorpions pose a significant threat to the health and life of humans. The speed and range of their actions causes damage of the organ responsible for the maintenance of vital signs. Venomous snake venoms cause blood clotting disorders, tissue necrosis and hemolysis, and the release of a number of proinflammatory cytokines and impair antibody synthesis. Availability of antitoxins is limited and in the most cases supportive treatment is recommended. In turn, the venom of scorpions beside intestinal symptoms cause significant impairment of neuromuscular conduction, causing severe respiratory disorders. Action venom poses a particular threat to sensitive patients. The degree of threat to life caused by the venom of snakes and scorpions authorizes the treatment of these substances as a potential biological weapon. PMID:26449581

  5. Spatial Biodiversity Patterns of Madagascar's Amphibians and Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Brown, Jason L.; Sillero, Neftali; Glaw, Frank; Bora, Parfait; Vieites, David R.; Vences, Miguel

    2016-01-01

    Madagascar has become a model region for testing hypotheses of species diversification and biogeography, and many studies have focused on its diverse and highly endemic herpetofauna. Here we combine species distribution models of a near-complete set of species of reptiles and amphibians known from the island with body size data and a tabulation of herpetofaunal communities from field surveys, compiled up to 2008. Though taxonomic revisions and novel distributional records arose since compilation, we are confident that the data are appropriate for inferring and comparing biogeographic patterns among these groups of organisms. We observed species richness of both amphibians and reptiles was highest in the humid rainforest biome of eastern Madagascar, but reptiles also show areas of high richness in the dry and subarid western biomes. In several amphibian subclades, especially within the Mantellidae, species richness peaks in the central eastern geographic regions while in reptiles different subclades differ distinctly in their richness centers. A high proportion of clades and subclades of both amphibians and reptiles have a peak of local endemism in the topographically and bioclimatically diverse northern geographic regions. This northern area is roughly delimited by a diagonal spanning from 15.5°S on the east coast to ca. 15.0°S on the west coast. Amphibian diversity is highest at altitudes between 800–1200 m above sea-level whereas reptiles have their highest richness at low elevations, probably reflecting the comparatively large number of species specialized to the extended low-elevation areas in the dry and subarid biomes. We found that the range sizes of both amphibians and reptiles strongly correlated with body size, and differences between the two groups are explained by the larger body sizes of reptiles. However, snakes have larger range sizes than lizards which cannot be readily explained by their larger body sizes alone. Range filling, i.e., the amount

  6. Peptide Toxins in Solitary Wasp Venoms.

    PubMed

    Konno, Katsuhiro; Kazuma, Kohei; Nihei, Ken-ichi

    2016-04-01

    Solitary wasps paralyze insects or spiders with stinging venom and feed the paralyzed preys to their larva. Accordingly, the venoms should contain a variety of constituents acting on nervous systems. However, only a few solitary wasp venoms have been chemically studied despite thousands of species inhabiting the planet. We have surveyed bioactive substances in solitary wasp venoms found in Japan and discovered a variety of novel bioactive peptides. Pompilidotoxins (PMTXs), in the venoms of the pompilid wasps Anoplius samariensis and Batozonellus maculifrons, are small peptides consisting of 13 amino acids without a disulfide bond. PMTXs slowed Na⁺ channel inactivation, in particular against neuronal type Na⁺ channels, and were rather selective to the Nav1.6 channel. Mastoparan-like cytolytic and antimicrobial peptides are the major components of eumenine wasp venoms. They are rich in hydrophobic and basic amino acids, adopting a α-helical secondary structure, and showing mast cell degranulating, antimicrobial and hemolytic activities. The venom of the spider wasp Cyphononyx fulvognathus contained four bradykinin-related peptides. They are hyperalgesic and, dependent on the structure, differently associated with B₁ or B₂ receptors. Further survey led to the isolation of leucomyosuppressin-like FMRFamide peptides from the venoms of the digger wasps Sphex argentatus and Isodontia harmandi. These results of peptide toxins in solitary wasp venoms from our studies are summarized. PMID:27096870

  7. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R.; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M.; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  8. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms.

    PubMed

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  9. Snake venom toxins: toxicity and medicinal applications.

    PubMed

    Chan, Yau Sang; Cheung, Randy Chi Fai; Xia, Lixin; Wong, Jack Ho; Ng, Tzi Bun; Chan, Wai Yee

    2016-07-01

    Snake venoms are complex mixtures of small molecules and peptides/proteins, and most of them display certain kinds of bioactivities. They include neurotoxic, cytotoxic, cardiotoxic, myotoxic, and many different enzymatic activities. Snake envenomation is a significant health issue as millions of snakebites are reported annually. A large number of people are injured and die due to snake venom poisoning. However, several fatal snake venom toxins have found potential uses as diagnostic tools, therapeutic agent, or drug leads. In this review, different non-enzymatically active snake venom toxins which have potential therapeutic properties such as antitumor, antimicrobial, anticoagulating, and analgesic activities will be discussed. PMID:27245678

  10. Venomous Frogs Use Heads as Weapons.

    PubMed

    Jared, Carlos; Mailho-Fontana, Pedro Luiz; Antoniazzi, Marta Maria; Mendes, Vanessa Aparecida; Barbaro, Katia Cristina; Rodrigues, Miguel Trefaut; Brodie, Edmund D

    2015-08-17

    Venomous animals have toxins associated with delivery mechanisms that can introduce the toxins into another animal. Although most amphibian species produce or sequester noxious or toxic secretions in the granular glands of the skin to use as antipredator mechanisms, amphibians have been considered poisonous rather than venomous because delivery mechanisms are absent. The skin secretions of two Brazilian hylid frogs (Corythomantis greening and Aparasphenodon brunoi) are more toxic than the venoms of deadly venomous Brazilian pitvipers, genus Bothrops; C. greeningi secretion is 2-fold and A. brunoi secretion is 25-fold as lethal as Bothrops venom. Like the venoms of other animals, the skin secretions of these frogs show proteolytic and fibrinolytic activity and have hyaluronidase, which is nontoxic and nonproteolytic but promotes diffusion of toxins. These frogs have well-developed delivery mechanisms, utilizing bony spines on the skull that pierce the skin in areas with concentrations of skin glands. C. greeningi has greater development of head spines and enlarged skin glands producing a greater volume of secretion, while A. brunoi has more lethal venom. C. greeningi and A. brunoi have highly toxic skin secretions and an associated delivery mechanism; they are therefore venomous. Because even tiny amounts of these secretions introduced into a wound caused by the head spines could be dangerous, these frogs are capable of using their skin toxins as venoms against would-be predators. PMID:26255851

  11. Peptide Toxins in Solitary Wasp Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Konno, Katsuhiro; Kazuma, Kohei; Nihei, Ken-ichi

    2016-01-01

    Solitary wasps paralyze insects or spiders with stinging venom and feed the paralyzed preys to their larva. Accordingly, the venoms should contain a variety of constituents acting on nervous systems. However, only a few solitary wasp venoms have been chemically studied despite thousands of species inhabiting the planet. We have surveyed bioactive substances in solitary wasp venoms found in Japan and discovered a variety of novel bioactive peptides. Pompilidotoxins (PMTXs), in the venoms of the pompilid wasps Anoplius samariensis and Batozonellus maculifrons, are small peptides consisting of 13 amino acids without a disulfide bond. PMTXs slowed Na+ channel inactivation, in particular against neuronal type Na+ channels, and were rather selective to the Nav1.6 channel. Mastoparan-like cytolytic and antimicrobial peptides are the major components of eumenine wasp venoms. They are rich in hydrophobic and basic amino acids, adopting a α-helical secondary structure, and showing mast cell degranulating, antimicrobial and hemolytic activities. The venom of the spider wasp Cyphononyx fulvognathus contained four bradykinin-related peptides. They are hyperalgesic and, dependent on the structure, differently associated with B1 or B2 receptors. Further survey led to the isolation of leucomyosuppressin-like FMRFamide peptides from the venoms of the digger wasps Sphex argentatus and Isodontia harmandi. These results of peptide toxins in solitary wasp venoms from our studies are summarized. PMID:27096870

  12. Annual Report: 2014: Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Weir, Linda A.; Nanjappa, P.; Apodaca, J. J.; Williams, J.

    2015-01-01

    Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) was established in 1999 to address the widespread declines, extinctions, and range reductions of amphibians and reptiles, with a focus on conservation of taxa and habitats in North America. Amphibians and reptiles are affected by a broad range of human activities, both as incidental effects of habitat alteration and direct effects from overexploitation; these animals are also burdened by humans attitudes – that amphibians and reptiles are either dangerous or of little environmental or economic value. However, PARC members understand these taxa are important parts of our natural and cultural heritage and they serve important roles in ecosystems throughout the world. With many amphibians and reptiles classified as threatened with extinction, conservation to ensure healthy populations of these animals has never been more important. As you will see herein, PARC’s 15th anniversary has been marked with major accomplishments and an ever-increasing momentum. With your help, PARC can continue to build on its successes and protect these vital species.

  13. Venom regeneration in the centipede Scolopendra polymorpha: evidence for asynchronous venom component synthesis.

    PubMed

    Cooper, Allen M; Kelln, Wayne J; Hayes, William K

    2014-12-01

    Venom regeneration comprises a vital process in animals that rely on venom for prey capture and defense. Venom regeneration in scolopendromorph centipedes likely influences their ability to subdue prey and defend themselves, and may influence the quantity and quality of venom extracted by researchers investigating the venom's biochemistry. We investigated venom volume and total protein regeneration during the 14-day period subsequent to venom extraction in the North American centipede Scolopendra polymorpha. We further tested the hypothesis that venom protein components, separated by reversed-phase fast protein liquid chromatography (RP-FPLC), undergo asynchronous (non-parallel) synthesis. During the first 48 h, volume and protein mass increased linearly. Protein regeneration lagged behind volume regeneration, with 65–86% of venom volume and 29–47% of protein mass regenerated during the first 2 days. No additional regeneration occurred over the subsequent 12 days, and neither volume nor protein mass reached initial levels 7 months later (93% and 76%, respectively). Centipede body length was negatively associated with rate of venom regeneration. Analysis of chromatograms of individual venom samples revealed that 5 of 10 chromatographic regions and 12 of 28 peaks demonstrated changes in percent of total peak area (i.e., percent of total protein) among milking intervals, indicating that venom proteins are regenerated asynchronously. Moreover, specimens from Arizona and California differed in relative amounts of some venom components. The considerable regeneration of venom occurring within the first 48 h, despite the reduced protein content, suggests that predatory and defensive capacities are minimally constrained by the timing of venom replacement. PMID:25456977

  14. The venom-gland transcriptome of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Snake venoms have significant impacts on human populations through the morbidity and mortality associated with snakebites and as sources of drugs, drug leads, and physiological research tools. Genes expressed by venom-gland tissue, including those encoding toxic proteins, have therefore been sequenced but only with relatively sparse coverage resulting from the low-throughput sequencing approaches available. High-throughput approaches based on 454 pyrosequencing have recently been applied to the study of snake venoms to give the most complete characterizations to date of the genes expressed in active venom glands, but such approaches are costly and still provide a far-from-complete characterization of the genes expressed during venom production. Results We describe the de novo assembly and analysis of the venom-gland transcriptome of an eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus) based on 95,643,958 pairs of quality-filtered, 100-base-pair Illumina reads. We identified 123 unique, full-length toxin-coding sequences, which cluster into 78 groups with less than 1% nucleotide divergence, and 2,879 unique, full-length nontoxin coding sequences. The toxin sequences accounted for 35.4% of the total reads, and the nontoxin sequences for an additional 27.5%. The most highly expressed toxin was a small myotoxin related to crotamine, which accounted for 5.9% of the total reads. Snake-venom metalloproteinases accounted for the highest percentage of reads mapping to a toxin class (24.4%), followed by C-type lectins (22.2%) and serine proteinases (20.0%). The most diverse toxin classes were the C-type lectins (21 clusters), the snake-venom metalloproteinases (16 clusters), and the serine proteinases (14 clusters). The high-abundance nontoxin transcripts were predominantly those involved in protein folding and translation, consistent with the protein-secretory function of the tissue. Conclusions We have provided the most complete characterization of the genes

  15. Extending the honey bee venome with the antimicrobial peptide apidaecin and a protein resembling wasp antigen 5.

    PubMed

    Van Vaerenbergh, M; Cardoen, D; Formesyn, E M; Brunain, M; Van Driessche, G; Blank, S; Spillner, E; Verleyen, P; Wenseleers, T; Schoofs, L; Devreese, B; de Graaf, D C

    2013-04-01

    Honey bee venom is a complex mixture of toxic proteins and peptides. In the present study we tried to extend our knowledge of the venom composition using two different approaches. First, worker venom was analysed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and this revealed the antimicrobial peptide apidaecin for the first time in such samples. Its expression in the venom gland was confirmed by reverse transcription PCR and by a peptidomic analysis of the venom apparatus tissue. Second, genome mining revealed a list of proteins with resemblance to known insect allergens or venom toxins, one of which showed homology to proteins of the antigen 5 (Ag5)/Sol i 3 cluster. It was demonstrated that the honey bee Ag5-like gene is expressed by venom gland tissue of winter bees but not of summer bees. Besides this seasonal variation, it shows an interesting spatial expression pattern with additional production in the hypopharyngeal glands, the brains and the midgut. Finally, our immunoblot study revealed that both synthetic apidaecin and the Ag5-like recombinant from bacteria evoke no humoral activity in beekeepers. Also, no IgG4-based cross-reactivity was detected between the honey bee Ag5-like protein and its yellow jacket paralogue Ves v 5. PMID:23350689

  16. Reptiles: a new model for brain evo-devo research.

    PubMed

    Nomura, Tadashi; Kawaguchi, Masahumi; Ono, Katsuhiko; Murakami, Yasunori

    2013-03-01

    Vertebrate brains exhibit vast amounts of anatomical diversity. In particular, the elaborate and complex nervous system of amniotes is correlated with the size of their behavioral repertoire. However, the evolutionary mechanisms underlying species-specific brain morphogenesis remain elusive. In this review we introduce reptiles as a new model organism for understanding brain evolution. These animal groups inherited ancestral traits of brain architectures. We will describe several unique aspects of the reptilian nervous system with a special focus on the telencephalon, and discuss the genetic mechanisms underlying reptile-specific brain morphology. The establishment of experimental evo-devo approaches to studying reptiles will help to shed light on the origin of the amniote brains. PMID:23319423

  17. Effects of environmental contaminants on reptiles: A review

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hall, R.J.

    1980-01-01

    The literature relating to the effects of environmental contaminants on reptiles is reviewed and certain generalizations based on studies of other kinds of vertebrates are presented. Reports of reptilian mortality from pesticide applications are numerous enough to establish the sensitivity of reptiles to these materials. Reports of residue analyses demonstrate the ability of reptiles to accumulate various contaminants. but the significance of the residues to reptilian populations is unknown. A few authors have reported the distribution of residues in reptilian tissues; others have investigated uptake or loss rates. Physiological studies have shown that organochlorines may inhibit enzymes involved in active transport and have correlated the activity of potential detoxifying enzymes with residue levels. There is some suggestion that pesticide residues may interfere with reproduction in oviparous snakes. Needs for future research are discussed.

  18. Integrating developmental biology and the fossil record of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Skawiński, Tomasz; Tałanda, Mateusz

    2014-01-01

    Numerous new discoveries and new research techniques have influenced our understanding of reptile development from a palaeontological perspective. They suggest for example that transition from mineralized to leathery eggshells and from oviparity to viviparity appeared much more often in the evolution of reptiles than was previously thought. Most marine reptiles evolved from viviparous terrestrial ancestors and had probably genetic sex determination. Fossil forms often display developmental traits absent or rare among modern ones such as polydactyly, hyperphalangy, the presence of ribcage armour, reduction of head ornamentation during ontogeny, extreme modifications of vertebral count or a wide range of feather-like structures. Thus, they provide an empirical background for many morphogenetic considerations. PMID:26154335

  19. Profiling the resting venom gland of the scorpion Tityus stigmurus through a transcriptomic survey

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background The scorpion Tityus stigmurus is widely distributed in Northeastern Brazil and known to cause severe human envenoming, inducing pain, hyposthesia, edema, erythema, paresthesia, headaches and vomiting. The present study uses a transcriptomic approach to characterize the gene expression profile from the non-stimulated venom gland of Tityus stigmurus scorpion. Results A cDNA library was constructed and 540 clones were sequenced and grouped into 153 clusters, with one or more ESTs (expressed sequence tags). Forty-one percent of ESTs belong to recognized toxin-coding sequences, with transcripts encoding antimicrobial toxins (AMP-like) being the most abundant, followed by alfa KTx- like, beta KTx-like, beta NaTx-like and alfa NaTx-like. Our analysis indicated that 34% of the transcripts encode “other possible venom molecules”, which correspond to anionic peptides, hypothetical secreted peptides, metalloproteinases, cystein-rich peptides and lectins. Fifteen percent of ESTs are similar to cellular transcripts. Sequences without good matches corresponded to 11%. Conclusions This investigation provides the first global view of gene expression of the venom gland from Tityus stigmurus under resting conditions. This approach enables characterization of a large number of venom gland component molecules, which belong either to known or non yet described types of venom peptides and proteins from the Buthidae family. PMID:22853446

  20. Ontogenetic Variation in Biological Activities of Venoms from Hybrids between Bothrops erythromelas and Bothrops neuwiedi Snakes

    PubMed Central

    Santoro, Marcelo Larami; do Carmo, Thaís; Cunha, Bruna Heloísa Lopes; Alves, André Fonseca; Zelanis, André; Serrano, Solange Maria de Toledo; Grego, Kathleen Fernandes; Sant’Anna, Savio Stefanini; Barbaro, Katia Cristina; Fernandes, Wilson

    2015-01-01

    Lance-headed snakes are found in Central and South America, and they account for most snakebites in Brazil. The phylogeny of South American pitvipers has been reviewed, and the presence of natural and non-natural hybrids between different species of Bothrops snakes demonstrates that reproductive isolation of several species is still incomplete. The present study aimed to analyze the biological features, particularly the thrombin-like activity, of venoms from hybrids born in captivity, from the mating of a female Bothrops erythromelas and a male Bothrops neuwiedi, two species whose venoms are known to display ontogenetic variation. Proteolytic activity on azocoll and amidolytic activity on N-benzoyl-DL-arginine-p-nitroanilide hydrochloride (BAPNA) were lowest when hybrids were 3 months old, and increased over body growth, reaching values similar to those of the father when hybrids were 12 months old. The clotting activity on plasma diminished as hybrids grew; venoms from 3- and 6-months old hybrids showed low clotting activity on fibrinogen (i.e., thrombin-like activity), like the mother venom, and such activity was detected only when hybrids were older than 1 year of age. Altogether, these results point out that venom features in hybrid snakes are genetically controlled during the ontogenetic development. Despite the presence of the thrombin-like enzyme gene(s) in hybrid snakes, they are silenced during the first six months of life. PMID:26714190

  1. Ontogenetic Variation in Biological Activities of Venoms from Hybrids between Bothrops erythromelas and Bothrops neuwiedi Snakes.

    PubMed

    Santoro, Marcelo Larami; do Carmo, Thaís; Cunha, Bruna Heloísa Lopes; Alves, André Fonseca; Zelanis, André; Serrano, Solange Maria de Toledo; Grego, Kathleen Fernandes; Sant'Anna, Savio Stefanini; Barbaro, Katia Cristina; Fernandes, Wilson

    2015-01-01

    Lance-headed snakes are found in Central and South America, and they account for most snakebites in Brazil. The phylogeny of South American pitvipers has been reviewed, and the presence of natural and non-natural hybrids between different species of Bothrops snakes demonstrates that reproductive isolation of several species is still incomplete. The present study aimed to analyze the biological features, particularly the thrombin-like activity, of venoms from hybrids born in captivity, from the mating of a female Bothrops erythromelas and a male Bothrops neuwiedi, two species whose venoms are known to display ontogenetic variation. Proteolytic activity on azocoll and amidolytic activity on N-benzoyl-DL-arginine-p-nitroanilide hydrochloride (BAPNA) were lowest when hybrids were 3 months old, and increased over body growth, reaching values similar to those of the father when hybrids were 12 months old. The clotting activity on plasma diminished as hybrids grew; venoms from 3- and 6-months old hybrids showed low clotting activity on fibrinogen (i.e., thrombin-like activity), like the mother venom, and such activity was detected only when hybrids were older than 1 year of age. Altogether, these results point out that venom features in hybrid snakes are genetically controlled during the ontogenetic development. Despite the presence of the thrombin-like enzyme gene(s) in hybrid snakes, they are silenced during the first six months of life. PMID:26714190

  2. Risk factors for invasive reptile-associated salmonellosis in children.

    PubMed

    Meyer Sauteur, Patrick M; Relly, Christa; Hug, Martina; Wittenbrink, Max M; Berger, Christoph

    2013-06-01

    Reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS) in children has been reported primarily due to direct contact with turtles, but recently also due to indirect contact with more exotic reptiles, causing disease in infants. To evaluate risk factors for RAS, we reviewed the RAS cases published in the literature since 1965. A case was defined as a child ≤18 years of age with an epidemiological link by identification of Salmonella enterica in cultures from both the affected child and the exposed reptile. We identified a total of 177 otherwise healthy children (median age 1.0 years, range 2 days to 17.0 years). RAS manifested mainly with gastrointestinal disease, but 15% presented with invasive RAS, including septicemia, meningitis, and bone and joint infection. The children with invasive RAS were significantly younger than children with noninvasive disease (median age 0.17 and 2.0 years, p<0.0001). RAS is most frequently seen after exposure to turtles (42%). However, children with invasive RAS had been exposed more often (p≤0.001) to reptiles other than turtles, including iguanas, bearded dragons, snakes, chameleons, and geckos. Children exposed to those latter reptiles usually kept indoors were younger than children exposed to turtles mostly kept outdoors (p<0.0001). RAS in children is significantly associated with invasive disease at young age, in particular infants <6 months of age. Exposure to reptiles, other than turtles, kept indoors is associated with RAS at younger age and more invasive disease. This finding is helpful for recognizing or even preventing invasive RAS in young infants that are at highest risk. PMID:23473215

  3. Ticks infesting amphibians and reptiles in Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil.

    PubMed

    Dantas-Torres, Filipe; Oliveira-Filho, Edmilson F; Soares, Fábio Angelo M; Souza, Bruno O F; Valença, Raul Baltazar P; Sá, Fabrício B

    2008-01-01

    Ticks infesting amphibians and reptiles in the State of Pernambuco are reviewed, based on the current literature and new collections recently carried out by the authors. To date, three tick species have been found on amphibians and reptiles in Pernambuco. Amblyomma fuscum appears to be exclusively associated with Boa constrictor, its type host. Amblyomma rotundatum has a relatively low host-specificity, being found on toads, snakes, and iguana. Amblyomma dissimile has been found on a lizard and also small mammals (i.e., rodents and marsupials). New tick-host associations and locality records are given. PMID:19265581

  4. Latarcins: versatile spider venom peptides.

    PubMed

    Dubovskii, Peter V; Vassilevski, Alexander A; Kozlov, Sergey A; Feofanov, Alexey V; Grishin, Eugene V; Efremov, Roman G

    2015-12-01

    Arthropod venoms feature the presence of cytolytic peptides believed to act synergetically with neurotoxins to paralyze prey or deter aggressors. Many of them are linear, i.e., lack disulfide bonds. When isolated from the venom, or obtained by other means, these peptides exhibit common properties. They are cationic; being mostly disordered in aqueous solution, assume amphiphilic α-helical structure in contact with lipid membranes; and exhibit general cytotoxicity, including antifungal, antimicrobial, hemolytic, and anticancer activities. To suit the pharmacological needs, the activity spectrum of these peptides should be modified by rational engineering. As an example, we provide a detailed review on latarcins (Ltc), linear cytolytic peptides from Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom. Diverse experimental and computational techniques were used to investigate the spatial structure of Ltc in membrane-mimicking environments and their effects on model lipid bilayers. The antibacterial activity of Ltc was studied against a panel of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. In addition, the action of Ltc on erythrocytes and cancer cells was investigated in detail with confocal laser scanning microscopy. In the present review, we give a critical account of the progress in the research of Ltc. We explore the relationship between Ltc structure and their biological activity and derive molecular characteristics, which can be used for optimization of other linear peptides. Current applications of Ltc and prospective use of similar membrane-active peptides are outlined. PMID:26286896

  5. [Venomous animal accidents in childhood

    PubMed

    Oliveira, J S; Campos, J A; Costa, D M

    1999-11-01

    OBJECTIVE: To highlight the importance of venomous animal accidents in childhood. The conducts are based on the proposals of the Ministério da Saúde do Brasil [Ministry of Health of Brazil] to standardize medical care in this kind of accident. This article shows the importance of early clinical diagnosis and assistance.METHODS: Review of international and national literature that includes original articles, official standards and books.RESULTS: Pediatricians may always feel insecure when they have to attend children who had venomous animal accidents because this kind of pathology is not very common. This article tries to offer easy guidelines and describes the main steps to be followed. Besides, peculiar or unusual aspects of these accidents are to be found in the literature referred to in the end of this article. Venomous animal accidents are always more severe in children, therefore resulting in higher mortality and sequelae. We assert that the early antivenom sera is extremely helpful.CONCLUSIONS: The systematization of the assistance may guarantee that the essential steps are followed thus making the assistance itself more effective. This is the purpose of the guidelines presented in this article. PMID:14685472

  6. Profiling the venom gland transcriptomes of Costa Rican snakes by 454 pyrosequencing

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background A long term research goal of venomics, of applied importance for improving current antivenom therapy, but also for drug discovery, is to understand the pharmacological potential of venoms. Individually or combined, proteomic and transcriptomic studies have demonstrated their feasibility to explore in depth the molecular diversity of venoms. In the absence of genome sequence, transcriptomes represent also valuable searchable databases for proteomic projects. Results The venom gland transcriptomes of 8 Costa Rican taxa from 5 genera (Crotalus, Bothrops, Atropoides, Cerrophidion, and Bothriechis) of pitvipers were investigated using high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing. 100,394 out of 330,010 masked reads produced significant hits in the available databases. 5.165,220 nucleotides (8.27%) were masked by RepeatMasker, the vast majority of which corresponding to class I (retroelements) and class II (DNA transposons) mobile elements. BLAST hits included 79,991 matches to entries of the taxonomic suborder Serpentes, of which 62,433 displayed similarity to documented venom proteins. Strong discrepancies between the transcriptome-computed and the proteome-gathered toxin compositions were obvious at first sight. Although the reasons underlaying this discrepancy are elusive, since no clear trend within or between species is apparent, the data indicate that individual mRNA species may be translationally controlled in a species-dependent manner. The minimum number of genes from each toxin family transcribed into the venom gland transcriptome of each species was calculated from multiple alignments of reads matched to a full-length reference sequence of each toxin family. Reads encoding ORF regions of Kazal-type inhibitor-like proteins were uniquely found in Bothriechis schlegelii and B. lateralis transcriptomes, suggesting a genus-specific recruitment event during the early-Middle Miocene. A transcriptome-based cladogram supports the large divergence between A. mexicanus

  7. Detection of Rickettsia and Ehrlichia spp. in Ticks Associated with Exotic Reptiles and Amphibians Imported into Japan

    PubMed Central

    Andoh, Masako; Sakata, Akiko; Takano, Ai; Kawabata, Hiroki; Fujita, Hiromi; Une, Yumi; Goka, Koichi; Kishimoto, Toshio; Ando, Shuji

    2015-01-01

    One of the major routes of transmission of rickettsial and ehrlichial diseases is via ticks that infest numerous host species, including humans. Besides mammals, reptiles and amphibians also carry ticks that may harbor Rickettsia and Ehrlichia strains that are pathogenic to humans. Furthermore, reptiles and amphibians are exempt from quarantine in Japan, thus facilitating the entry of parasites and pathogens to the country through import. Accordingly, in the current study, we examined the presence of Rickettsia and Ehrlichia spp. genes in ticks associated with reptiles and amphibians originating from outside Japan. Ninety-three ticks representing nine tick species (genera Amblyomma and Hyalomma) were isolated from at least 28 animals spanning 10 species and originating from 12 countries (Ghana, Jordan, Madagascar, Panama, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Togo, Uzbekistan, and Zambia). None of the nine tick species are indigenous in Japan. The genes encoding the common rickettsial 17-kDa antigen, citrate synthase (gltA), and outer membrane protein A (ompA) were positively detected in 45.2% (42/93), 40.9% (38/93), and 23.7% (22/93) of the ticks, respectively, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The genes encoding ehrlichial heat shock protein (groEL) and major outer membrane protein (omp-1) were PCR-positive in 7.5% (7/93) and 2.2% (2/93) of the ticks, respectively. The p44 gene, which encodes the Anaplasma outer membrane protein, was not detected. Phylogenetic analysis showed that several of the rickettsial and ehrlichial sequences isolated in this study were highly similar to human pathogen genes, including agents not previously detected in Japan. These data demonstrate the global transportation of pathogenic Rickettsia and Ehrlichia through reptile- and amphibian-associated ticks. These imported animals have potential to transfer pathogens into human life. These results highlight the need to control the international transportation of known and

  8. Detection of Rickettsia and Ehrlichia spp. in Ticks Associated with Exotic Reptiles and Amphibians Imported into Japan.

    PubMed

    Andoh, Masako; Sakata, Akiko; Takano, Ai; Kawabata, Hiroki; Fujita, Hiromi; Une, Yumi; Goka, Koichi; Kishimoto, Toshio; Ando, Shuji

    2015-01-01

    One of the major routes of transmission of rickettsial and ehrlichial diseases is via ticks that infest numerous host species, including humans. Besides mammals, reptiles and amphibians also carry ticks that may harbor Rickettsia and Ehrlichia strains that are pathogenic to humans. Furthermore, reptiles and amphibians are exempt from quarantine in Japan, thus facilitating the entry of parasites and pathogens to the country through import. Accordingly, in the current study, we examined the presence of Rickettsia and Ehrlichia spp. genes in ticks associated with reptiles and amphibians originating from outside Japan. Ninety-three ticks representing nine tick species (genera Amblyomma and Hyalomma) were isolated from at least 28 animals spanning 10 species and originating from 12 countries (Ghana, Jordan, Madagascar, Panama, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Togo, Uzbekistan, and Zambia). None of the nine tick species are indigenous in Japan. The genes encoding the common rickettsial 17-kDa antigen, citrate synthase (gltA), and outer membrane protein A (ompA) were positively detected in 45.2% (42/93), 40.9% (38/93), and 23.7% (22/93) of the ticks, respectively, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The genes encoding ehrlichial heat shock protein (groEL) and major outer membrane protein (omp-1) were PCR-positive in 7.5% (7/93) and 2.2% (2/93) of the ticks, respectively. The p44 gene, which encodes the Anaplasma outer membrane protein, was not detected. Phylogenetic analysis showed that several of the rickettsial and ehrlichial sequences isolated in this study were highly similar to human pathogen genes, including agents not previously detected in Japan. These data demonstrate the global transportation of pathogenic Rickettsia and Ehrlichia through reptile- and amphibian-associated ticks. These imported animals have potential to transfer pathogens into human life. These results highlight the need to control the international transportation of known and

  9. Inflammation induced by Bothrops asper venom.

    PubMed

    Teixeira, Catarina; Cury, Yara; Moreira, Vanessa; Picolo, Gisele; Chaves, Fernando

    2009-07-01

    Inflammation is a major characteristic of envenomation by snakes from viperine and crotaline species. Bothrops asper snake venom elicits, among other alterations, a pronounced inflammatory response at the site of injection both in humans and experimental animals. This review describes the current status of our understanding of the inflammatory reaction, including pain, triggered by Bothrops asper venom. The experimental studies on the action of this venom as well as the complex network of chemical mediators involved are summarized. Moreover, aspects of the molecular mechanisms orchestrating this important response to envenomation by Bothrops asper are presented. Considering that isolated toxins are relevant tools for understanding the actions of the whole venom, studies dealing with the mechanisms of inflammatory and nociceptive properties of phospholipases A(2), a metalloproteinase and serine-proteases isolated from Bothrops asper venom are also described. PMID:19328821

  10. Inflammation induced by Bothrops asper venom.

    PubMed

    Teixeira, Catarina; Cury, Yara; Moreira, Vanessa; Picolob, Gisele; Chaves, Fernando

    2009-12-01

    Inflammation is a major characteristic of envenomation by snakes from viperine and crotaline species. Bothrops asper snake venom elicits, among other alterations, a pronounced inflammatory response at the site of injection both in humans and experimental animals. This review describes the current status of our understanding of the inflammatory reaction, including pain, triggered by B. asper venom. The experimental studies on the action of this venom as well as the complex network of chemical mediators involved are summarized. Moreover, aspects of the molecular mechanisms orchestrating this important response to envenomation by B. asper are presented. Considering that isolated toxins are relevant tools for understanding the actions of the whole venom, studies dealing with the mechanisms of inflammatory and nociceptive properties of phospholipases A2, a metalloproteinase and serine proteinases isolated from B. asper venom are also described. PMID:19774698

  11. Venom: the sharp end of pain therapeutics

    PubMed Central

    Trim, Carol M

    2013-01-01

    Adequate pain control is still a significant challenge and largely unmet medical need in the 21st century. With many small molecules failing to reach required levels of potency and selectivity, drug discovery is once again turning to nature to replenish pain therapeutic pipelines. Venomous animals are frequently stereotyped as inflictors of pain and distress and have historically been vilified by mankind. Yet, ironically, the very venoms that cause pain when directly injected by the host animal may actually turn out to contain the next generation of analgesics when injected by the clinician. The last 12 months have seen dramatic discoveries of analgesic tools within venoms. Spiders, snakes and even centipedes are yielding peptides with immense therapeutic potential. Significant advances are also taking place in delivery methods that can improve bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of these exciting natural resources. Turning proteinaceous venom into pharmaceutical liquid gold is the goal of venomics and the focus of this article. PMID:26516522

  12. Spider-Venom Peptides as Therapeutics

    PubMed Central

    Saez, Natalie J.; Senff, Sebastian; Jensen, Jonas E.; Er, Sing Yan; Herzig, Volker; Rash, Lachlan D.; King, Glenn F.

    2010-01-01

    Spiders are the most successful venomous animals and the most abundant terrestrial predators. Their remarkable success is due in large part to their ingenious exploitation of silk and the evolution of pharmacologically complex venoms that ensure rapid subjugation of prey. Most spider venoms are dominated by disulfide-rich peptides that typically have high affinity and specificity for particular subtypes of ion channels and receptors. Spider venoms are conservatively predicted to contain more than 10 million bioactive peptides, making them a valuable resource for drug discovery. Here we review the structure and pharmacology of spider-venom peptides that are being used as leads for the development of therapeutics against a wide range of pathophysiological conditions including cardiovascular disorders, chronic pain, inflammation, and erectile dysfunction. PMID:22069579

  13. Honeybee venom immunotherapy: certainties and pitfalls.

    PubMed

    Bilò, M Beatrice; Antonicelli, Leonardo; Bonifazi, Floriano

    2012-11-01

    The honeybee is an interesting insect because of the fundamental agricultural role it plays, together with the composition of its venom, which presents new diagnostic and immunotherapeutic challenges. This article examines various aspects of honeybee venom allergy from epidemiology to diagnosis and treatment, with special emphasis on venom immunotherapy (VIT). Honeybee venom allergy represents a risk factor for severe systemic reaction in challenged allergic patients, for the diminished effectiveness of VIT, for more frequent side effects during VIT and relapse after cessation of treatment. Some strategies are available for reducing the risk of honeybee VIT-induced side effects; however, there is considerable room for further improvement in these all-important areas. At the same time, sensitized and allergic beekeepers represent unique populations for epidemiological, venom allergy immunopathogenesis and VIT mechanism studies. PMID:23194365

  14. Spider venomics: implications for drug discovery.

    PubMed

    Pineda, Sandy S; Undheim, Eivind A B; Rupasinghe, Darshani B; Ikonomopoulou, Maria P; King, Glenn F

    2014-10-01

    Over a period of more than 300 million years, spiders have evolved complex venoms containing an extraordinary array of toxins for prey capture and defense against predators. The major components of most spider venoms are small disulfide-bridged peptides that are highly stable and resistant to proteolytic degradation. Moreover, many of these peptides have high specificity and potency toward molecular targets of therapeutic importance. This unique combination of bioactivity and stability has made spider-venom peptides valuable both as pharmacological tools and as leads for drug development. This review describes recent advances in spider-venom-based drug discovery pipelines. We discuss spider-venom-derived peptides that are currently under investigation for treatment of a diverse range of pathologies including pain, stroke and cancer. PMID:25406008

  15. Venom evolution widespread in fishes: a phylogenetic road map for the bioprospecting of piscine venoms.

    PubMed

    Smith, William Leo; Wheeler, Ward C

    2006-01-01

    Knowledge of evolutionary relationships or phylogeny allows for effective predictions about the unstudied characteristics of species. These include the presence and biological activity of an organism's venoms. To date, most venom bioprospecting has focused on snakes, resulting in six stroke and cancer treatment drugs that are nearing U.S. Food and Drug Administration review. Fishes, however, with thousands of venoms, represent an untapped resource of natural products. The first step involved in the efficient bioprospecting of these compounds is a phylogeny of venomous fishes. Here, we show the results of such an analysis and provide the first explicit suborder-level phylogeny for spiny-rayed fishes. The results, based on approximately 1.1 million aligned base pairs, suggest that, in contrast to previous estimates of 200 venomous fishes, >1,200 fishes in 12 clades should be presumed venomous. This assertion was corroborated by a detailed anatomical study examining potentially venomous structures in >100 species. The results of these studies not only alter our view of the diversity of venomous fishes, now representing >50% of venomous vertebrates, but also provide the predictive phylogeny or "road map" for the efficient search for potential pharmacological agents or physiological tools from the unexplored fish venoms. PMID:16740627

  16. Neutralization of cobra venom by cocktail antiserum against venom proteins of cobra (Naja naja naja).

    PubMed

    Venkatesan, C; Sarathi, M; Balasubramanaiyan, G; Vimal, S; Madan, N; Sundar Raj, N; Mohammed Yusuf Bilal, S; Nazeer Basha, A; Farook, M A; Sahul Hameed, A S; Sridevi, G

    2014-01-01

    Naja naja venom was characterized by its immunochemical properties and electrophoretic pattern which revealed eight protein bands (14 kDa, 24 kDa, 29 kDa, 45 kDa, 48 kDa, 65 kDa, 72 kDa and 99 kDa) by SDS-PAGE in reducing condition after staining with Coomassie Brilliant Blue. The results showed that Naja venom presented high lethal activity. Whole venom antiserum or individual venom protein antiserum (14 kDa, 29 kDa, 65 kDa, 72 kDa and 99 kDa) of venom could recognize N. naja venom by Western blotting and ELISA, and N. naja venom presented antibody titer when assayed by ELISA. The neutralization tests showed that the polyvalent antiserum neutralized lethal activities by both in vivo and in vitro studies using mice and Vero cells. The antiserum could neutralize the lethal activities in in-vivo and antivenom administered after injection of cobra venom through intraperitoneal route in mice. The cocktail antiserum also could neutralize the cytotoxic activities in Vero cell line by MTT and Neutral red assays. The results of the present study suggest that cocktail antiserum neutralizes the lethal activities in both in vitro and in vivo models using the antiserum against cobra venom and its individual venom proteins serum produced in rabbits. PMID:24176716

  17. VenomKB, a new knowledge base for facilitating the validation of putative venom therapies

    PubMed Central

    Romano, Joseph D.; Tatonetti, Nicholas P.

    2015-01-01

    Animal venoms have been used for therapeutic purposes since the dawn of recorded history. Only a small fraction, however, have been tested for pharmaceutical utility. Modern computational methods enable the systematic exploration of novel therapeutic uses for venom compounds. Unfortunately, there is currently no comprehensive resource describing the clinical effects of venoms to support this computational analysis. We present VenomKB, a new publicly accessible knowledge base and website that aims to act as a repository for emerging and putative venom therapies. Presently, it consists of three database tables: (1) Manually curated records of putative venom therapies supported by scientific literature, (2) automatically parsed MEDLINE articles describing compounds that may be venom derived, and their effects on the human body, and (3) automatically retrieved records from the new Semantic Medline resource that describe the effects of venom compounds on mammalian anatomy. Data from VenomKB may be selectively retrieved in a variety of popular data formats, are open-source, and will be continually updated as venom therapies become better understood. PMID:26601758

  18. Identification and molecular characterization of five putative toxins from the venom gland of the snake Philodryas chamissonis (Serpentes: Dipsadidae).

    PubMed

    Urra, Félix A; Pulgar, Rodrigo; Gutiérrez, Ricardo; Hodar, Christian; Cambiazo, Verónica; Labra, Antonieta

    2015-12-15

    Philodryas chamissonis is a rear-fanged snake endemic to Chile. Its bite produces mild to moderate symptoms with proteolytic and anti-coagulant effects. Presently, the composition of the venom, as well as, the biochemical and structural characteristics of its toxins, remains unknown. In this study, we cloned and reported the first full-length sequences of five toxin-encoding genes from the venom gland of this species: Type III snake venom metalloprotease (SVMP), snake venom serine protease (SVSP), Cysteine-rich secretory protein (CRISP), α and β subunits of C-type lectin-like protein (CLP) and C-type natriuretic peptide (NP). These genes are highly expressed in the venom gland and their sequences exhibited a putative signal peptide, suggesting that these are components of the venom. These putative toxins had different evolutionary relationships with those reported for some front-fanged snakes, being SVMP, SVSP and CRISP of P. chamissonis closely related to the toxins present in Elapidae species, while NP was more related to those of Viperidae species. In addition, analyses suggest that the α and β subunits of CLP of P. chamissonis might have a α-subunit scaffold in common with Viperidae species, whose highly variable C-terminal region might have allowed the diversification in α and β subunits. Our results provide the first molecular description of the toxins possibly implicated in the envenomation of prey and humans by the bite of P. chamissonis. PMID:26410112

  19. The neurologic examination and neurodiagnostic techniques for reptiles.

    PubMed

    Mariani, Christopher L

    2007-09-01

    This article will focus on specifics of performing the neurologic examination and neurodiagnostic testing in reptiles, and how these examinations differ from those performed in more conventional species. Physical examination and history are discussed, as well as invasive and noninvasive testing modalities. PMID:17765851

  20. Preliminary checklist of amphibians and reptiles from Baramita, Guyana

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reynolds, R.P.; MacCulloch, R.D.

    2012-01-01

    We provide an initial checklist of the herpetofauna of Baramita, a lowland rainforest site in the Northwest Region of Guyana. Twenty-five amphibian and 28 reptile species were collected during two separate dry-season visits. New country records for two species of snakes are documented, contributing to the knowledge on the incompletely known herpetofauna of Guyana.

  1. Using Reptile and Amphibian Activities in the Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Tomasek, Terry; Matthews, Catherine E.

    2008-01-01

    Reptiles and amphibians are a diverse and interesting group of organisms. The four activities described in this article take students' curiosity into the realm of scientific understanding. The activities involve the concepts of species identification; animal adaptations, communication, and habitat; and conservation. (Contains 1 table and 2…

  2. Using Amphibians and Reptiles To Learn the Process of Science.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Greene, Janice Schnake; Greene, Brian D.

    2001-01-01

    Discusses using amphibians and reptiles as an excellent resource for students to observe and gain an understanding of the process of science. These animals are easy to maintain in the classroom and play important roles in ecosystems as the prey for many birds and mammals and as the predators of various organisms. (SAH)

  3. The development of complex tooth shape in reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Zahradnicek, Oldrich; Buchtova, Marcela; Dosedelova, Hana; Tucker, Abigail S.

    2014-01-01

    Reptiles have a diverse array of tooth shapes, from simple unicuspid to complex multicuspid teeth, reflecting functional adaptation to a variety of diets and eating styles. In addition to cusps, often complex longitudinal labial and lingual enamel crests are widespread and contribute to the final shape of reptile teeth. The simplest shaped unicuspid teeth have been found in piscivorous or carnivorous ancestors of recent diapsid reptiles and they are also present in some extant carnivores such as crocodiles and snakes. However, the ancestral tooth shape for squamate reptiles is thought to be bicuspid, indicating an insectivorous diet. The development of bicuspid teeth in lizards has recently been published, indicating that the mechanisms used to create cusps and crests are very distinct from those that shape cusps in mammals. Here, we introduce the large variety of tooth shapes found in lizards and compare the morphology and development of bicuspid, tricuspid, and pentacuspid teeth, with the aim of understanding how such tooth shapes are generated. Next, we discuss whether the processes used to form such morphologies are conserved between divergent lizards and whether the underlying mechanisms share similarities with those of mammals. In particular, we will focus on the complex teeth of the chameleon, gecko, varanus, and anole lizards using SEM and histology to compare the tooth crown morphology and embryonic development. PMID:24611053

  4. The development of complex tooth shape in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Zahradnicek, Oldrich; Buchtova, Marcela; Dosedelova, Hana; Tucker, Abigail S

    2014-01-01

    Reptiles have a diverse array of tooth shapes, from simple unicuspid to complex multicuspid teeth, reflecting functional adaptation to a variety of diets and eating styles. In addition to cusps, often complex longitudinal labial and lingual enamel crests are widespread and contribute to the final shape of reptile teeth. The simplest shaped unicuspid teeth have been found in piscivorous or carnivorous ancestors of recent diapsid reptiles and they are also present in some extant carnivores such as crocodiles and snakes. However, the ancestral tooth shape for squamate reptiles is thought to be bicuspid, indicating an insectivorous diet. The development of bicuspid teeth in lizards has recently been published, indicating that the mechanisms used to create cusps and crests are very distinct from those that shape cusps in mammals. Here, we introduce the large variety of tooth shapes found in lizards and compare the morphology and development of bicuspid, tricuspid, and pentacuspid teeth, with the aim of understanding how such tooth shapes are generated. Next, we discuss whether the processes used to form such morphologies are conserved between divergent lizards and whether the underlying mechanisms share similarities with those of mammals. In particular, we will focus on the complex teeth of the chameleon, gecko, varanus, and anole lizards using SEM and histology to compare the tooth crown morphology and embryonic development. PMID:24611053

  5. [Venomous and poisonous animals. IV. Envenomations by venomous aquatic vertebrates].

    PubMed

    Bédry, R; De Haro, L

    2007-04-01

    Epidemiological information on marine envenomation is generally less extensive in Europe than in tropical regions where these injuries are more severe and the need for medical advice is more frequent. For these reasons use of regional Poison Control Centers in the area where the injury occurs must be encouraged. The purpose of this review is to describe envenomation by bony fish (lion fish, stone fish, and catfish), cartilaginous fish (stingrays and poisonous sharks), or other venomous aquatic vertebrates (moray-eels and marine snakes). Understanding of these envenomation syndromes is important not only in tropical areas but also in Europe where importation of dangerous species has increased in recent years. PMID:17691425

  6. Low cost venom extractor based on Arduino(®) board for electrical venom extraction from arthropods and other small animals.

    PubMed

    Besson, Thomas; Debayle, Delphine; Diochot, Sylvie; Salinas, Miguel; Lingueglia, Eric

    2016-08-01

    Extracting venom from small species is usually challenging. We describe here an affordable and versatile electrical venom extractor based on the Arduino(®) Mega 2560 Board, which is designed to extract venom from arthropods and other small animals. The device includes fine tuning of stimulation time and voltage. It was used to collect venom without apparent deleterious effects, and characterized for the first time the venom of Zoropsis spinimana, a common spider in French Mediterranean regions. PMID:27158113

  7. Mitigating Reptile Road Mortality: Fence Failures Compromise Ecopassage Effectiveness

    PubMed Central

    Baxter-Gilbert, James H.; Riley, Julia L.; Lesbarrères, David; Litzgus, Jacqueline D.

    2015-01-01

    Roadways pose serious threats to animal populations. The installation of roadway mitigation measures is becoming increasingly common, yet studies that rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of these conservation tools remain rare. A highway expansion project in Ontario, Canada included exclusion fencing and ecopassages as mitigation measures designed to offset detrimental effects to one of the most imperial groups of vertebrates, reptiles. Taking a multispecies approach, we used a Before-After-Control-Impact study design to compare reptile abundance on the highway before and after mitigation at an Impact site and a Control site from 1 May to 31 August in 2012 and 2013. During this time, radio telemetry, wildlife cameras, and an automated PIT-tag reading system were used to monitor reptile movements and use of ecopassages. Additionally, a willingness to utilize experiment was conducted to quantify turtle behavioral responses to ecopassages. We found no difference in abundance of turtles on the road between the un-mitigated and mitigated highways, and an increase in the percentage of both snakes and turtles detected dead on the road post-mitigation, suggesting that the fencing was not effective. Although ecopassages were used by reptiles, the number of crossings through ecopassages was lower than road-surface crossings. Furthermore, turtle willingness to use ecopassages was lower than that reported in previous arena studies, suggesting that effectiveness of ecopassages may be compromised when alternative crossing options are available (e.g., through holes in exclusion structures). Our rigorous evaluation of reptile roadway mitigation demonstrated that when exclusion structures fail, the effectiveness of population connectivity structures is compromised. Our project emphasizes the need to design mitigation measures with the biology and behavior of the target species in mind, to implement mitigation designs in a rigorous fashion, and quantitatively evaluate road

  8. Inventory of amphibians and reptiles at Death Valley National Park

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Persons, Trevor B.; Nowak, Erika M.

    2006-01-01

    As part of the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program in the Mojave Network, we conducted an inventory of amphibians and reptiles at Death Valley National Park in 2002-04. Objectives for this inventory were to: 1) Inventory and document the occurrence of reptile and amphibian species occurring at DEVA, primarily within priority sampling areas, with the goal of documenting at least 90% of the species present; 2) document (through collection or museum specimen and literature review) one voucher specimen for each species identified; 3) provide a GIS-referenced list of sensitive species that are federally or state listed, rare, or worthy of special consideration that occur within priority sampling locations; 4) describe park-wide distribution of federally- or state-listed, rare, or special concern species; 5) enter all species data into the National Park Service NPSpecies database; and 6) provide all deliverables as outlined in the Mojave Network Biological Inventory Study Plan. Methods included daytime and nighttime visual encounter surveys, road driving, and pitfall trapping. Survey effort was concentrated in predetermined priority sampling areas, as well as in areas with a high potential for detecting undocumented species. We recorded 37 species during our surveys, including two species new to the park. During literature review and museum specimen database searches, we recorded three additional species from DEVA, elevating the documented species list to 40 (four amphibians and 36 reptiles). Based on our surveys, as well as literature and museum specimen review, we estimate an overall inventory completeness of 92% for Death Valley and an inventory completeness of 73% for amphibians and 95% for reptiles. Key Words: Amphibians, reptiles, Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, San Bernardino County, Esmeralda County, Nye County, California, Nevada, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, inventory, NPSpecies.

  9. Venomous protease of aphid soldier for colony defense.

    PubMed

    Kutsukake, Mayako; Shibao, Harunobu; Nikoh, Naruo; Morioka, Mizue; Tamura, Tomohiro; Hoshino, Tamotsu; Ohgiya, Satoru; Fukatsu, Takema

    2004-08-01

    In social aphids, morphological, behavioral, and physiological differences between soldiers and normal insects are attributed to differences in gene expression between them, because they are clonal offspring parthenogenetically produced by the same mothers. By using cDNA subtraction, we identified a soldier-specific cysteine protease of the family cathepsin B in a social aphid, Tuberaphis styraci, with a second-instar soldier caste. The cathepsin B gene was specifically expressed in soldiers and first-instar nymphs destined to be soldiers. The cathepsin B protein was preferentially produced in soldiers and showed a protease activity typical of cathepsin B. The cathepsin B mRNA and protein were localized in the midgut of soldiers. For colony defense, soldiers attack enemies with their stylet, which causes paralysis and death of the victims. Notably, after soldiers attacked moth larvae, the cathepsin B protein was detected from the paralyzed larvae. Injection of purified recombinant cathepsin B protein certainly killed the recipient moth larvae. From these results, we concluded that the cathepsin B protein is a major component of the aphid venom produced by soldiers of T. styraci. Soldier-specific expression of the cathepsin B gene was found in other social aphids of the genus Tuberaphis. The soldier-specific cathepsin B gene showed an accelerated molecular evolution probably caused by the action of positive selection, which had been also known from venomous proteins of other animals. PMID:15277678

  10. Trichinella zimbabwensis in wild reptiles of Zimbabwe and Mozambique and farmed reptiles of Ethiopia.

    PubMed

    Pozio, Edoardo; Foggin, Chris M; Gelanew, Tesfaye; Marucci, Gianluca; Hailu, Asrat; Rossi, Patrizia; Morales, Maria Angeles Gomez

    2007-02-28

    In 1995, a new species of Trichinella (Trichinella zimbabwensis) was discovered in farmed Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in Zimbabwe, where the mode of transmission was the consumption of the meat of slaughtered crocodiles, used as feed. To determine whether T. zimbabwensis affects poikilotherm vertebrates in the wild, monitor lizards (Varanus niloticus) and Nile crocodiles were collected in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In 5 (17.6%) of the 28 monitor lizards from Zimbabwe, T. zimbabwensis larvae were identified. For the wild Nile crocodiles from Mozambique, species-level identification was not possible, yet immunohistochemical analysis revealed that 8 (20%) of the 40 animals harboured non-encapsulated Trichinella sp. larvae, which probably belonged to T. zimbabwensis. This is the first report of T. zimbabwensis in wild reptiles, and the findings are consistent with reports that vertebrates with scavenger and cannibalistic behaviour are the most important hosts of Trichinella spp. The wide distribution of monitor lizards and crocodiles in Africa and the development of national crocodile breeding programs in many African countries should be taken into consideration when evaluating the risk of transmission of this parasite to mammals, including humans. PMID:16982152

  11. Tityus serrulatus venom--A lethal cocktail.

    PubMed

    Pucca, Manuela Berto; Cerni, Felipe Augusto; Pinheiro Junior, Ernesto Lopes; Bordon, Karla de Castro Figueiredo; Amorim, Fernanda Gobbi; Cordeiro, Francielle Almeida; Longhim, Heloisa Tavoni; Cremonez, Caroline Marroni; Oliveira, Guilherme Honda; Arantes, Eliane Candiani

    2015-12-15

    Tityus serrulatus (Ts) is the main scorpion species of medical importance in Brazil. Ts venom is composed of several compounds such as mucus, inorganic salts, lipids, amines, nucleotides, enzymes, kallikrein inhibitor, natriuretic peptide, proteins with high molecular mass, peptides, free amino acids and neurotoxins. Neurotoxins are considered the most responsible for the envenoming syndrome due to their pharmacological action on ion channels such as voltage-gated sodium (Nav) and potassium (Kv) channels. The major goal of this review is to present important advances in Ts envenoming research, correlating both the crude Ts venom and isolated toxins with alterations observed in all human systems. The most remarkable event lies in the Ts induced massive releasing of neurotransmitters influencing, directly or indirectly, the entire body. Ts venom proved to extremely affect nervous and muscular systems, to modulate the immune system, to induce cardiac disorders, to cause pulmonary edema, to decrease urinary flow and to alter endocrine, exocrine, reproductive, integumentary, skeletal and digestive functions. Therefore, Ts venom possesses toxins affecting all anatomic systems, making it a lethal cocktail. However, its low lethality may be due to the low venom mass injected, to the different venom compositions, the body characteristics and health conditions of the victim and the local of Ts sting. Furthermore, we also described the different treatments employed during envenoming cases. In particular, throughout the review, an effort will be made to provide information from an extensive documented studies concerning Ts venom in vitro, in animals and in humans (a total of 151 references). PMID:26522893

  12. Early significant ontogenetic changes in snake venoms.

    PubMed

    Wray, Kenneth P; Margres, Mark J; Seavy, Margaret; Rokyta, Darin R

    2015-03-01

    Snake venom plays a critical role in food acquisition, digestion, and defense. Venoms are known to change throughout the life of some snake species, but nothing is known about the venom composition of hatchling/neonate snakes prior to and just after their first shedding cycle, despite this being a critical time in the life of the snake. Using a cohort of Crotalus horridus and two cohorts of Crotalus adamanteus, we showed for the first time that snakes undergo significant changes in venom composition after the postnatal shedding event. The number of changes among cohorts ranged widely and there was wide variation in the direction of protein regulation, which appeared to be on a locus-specific level rather than protein-family level. These significant venom composition changes that take place in the first few weeks of life most likely play critical roles in venom economy and resource conservation and may partially explain the rare, post-birth maternal care found in some venomous species. PMID:25600640

  13. Angiotensin converting enzyme of Thalassophryne nattereri venom.

    PubMed

    da Costa Marques, Maria Elizabeth; de Araújo Tenório, Humberto; Dos Santos, Claudio Wilian Victor; Dos Santos, Daniel Moreira; de Lima, Maria Elena; Pereira, Hugo Juarez Vieira

    2016-10-01

    Animal venoms are complex mixtures, including peptides, proteins (i.e., enzymes), and other compounds produced by animals in predation, digestion, and defense. These molecules have been investigated regarding their molecular mechanisms associated with physiological action and possible pharmacological applications. Recently, we have described the presence of a type of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity in the venom of Thalassophryne nattereri. It is a zinc-dependent peptidase with a wide range of effects. By removing dipeptide His-Leu from terminal C, the ACE converts angiotensinI (AngI) into angiotensin II (AngII) and inactivates bradykinin, there by regulating blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis. The fractionation of T. nattereri venom in CM-Sepharose indicated a peak (CM2) with angiotensin-converting activity, converting AngI into Ang II. Electrophoresis on polyacrylamide gel (12%) revealed one band with 30kDa for CM2 similar in size to natterins, which are toxins with proteolytic activity found in T. nattereri venom. Mass spectrometry indicated that the protein sequence of the ACE purified from T. nattereri venom corresponds to natterin 1. The isolated protein has also demonstrated inhibition through captopril and EDTA and is characterized as a classic ACE. Thus, the isolated enzyme purified from T. nattereri venom is the first ACE isolated from fish venom. PMID:27327905

  14. Cardiovascular-Active Venom Toxins: An Overview.

    PubMed

    Rebello Horta, Carolina Campolina; Chatzaki, Maria; Rezende, Bruno Almeida; Magalhães, Bárbara de Freitas; Duarte, Clara Guerra; Felicori, Liza Figueiredo; Ribeiro Oliveira-Mendes, Bárbara Bruna; do Carmo, Anderson Oliveira; Chávez-Olórtegui, Carlos; Kalapothakis, Evanguedes

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are a mixture of bioactive compounds produced as weapons and used primarily to immobilize and kill preys. As a result of the high potency and specificity for various physiological targets, many toxins from animal venoms have emerged as possible drugs for the medication of diverse disorders, including cardiovascular diseases. Captopril, which inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), was the first successful venom-based drug and a notable example of rational drug design. Since captopril was developed, many studies have discovered novel bradykinin-potentiating peptides (BPPs) with actions on the cardiovascular system. Natriuretic peptides (NPs) have also been found in animal venoms and used as template to design new drugs with applications in cardiovascular diseases. Among the anti-arrhythmic peptides, GsMTx-4 was discovered to be a toxin that selectively inhibits the stretch-activated cation channels (SACs), which are involved in atrial fibrillation. The present review describes the main components isolated from animal venoms that act on the cardiovascular system and presents a brief summary of venomous animals and their venom apparatuses. PMID:26812904

  15. Identifying and managing Hymenoptera venom allergy.

    PubMed

    Matron, Patricia Kane; Timms, Victoria; Fitzsimons, Roisin

    2016-05-25

    Hymenoptera venom allergy is an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated hypersensitivity to the venom of insects from the Hymenoptera order and is a common cause of anaphylaxis. A diagnosis of venom allergy is made by taking an accurate medical, family and social history, alongside specific allergy testing. Systemic reactions to Hymenoptera venom occur in a small proportion of the population; these range from mild to life-threatening in severity. Treatment for local reactions involves the use of cold packs, antihistamines, analgesia and topical corticosteroids to help alleviate swelling, pain and pruritus. Venom immunotherapy is the treatment of choice for reducing the incidence of future anaphylactic reactions in individuals who have signs of respiratory obstruction or hypotension. Venom immunotherapy is the most effective treatment in reduction of life-threatening reactions to venom, and can improve quality of life for individuals. Treatment should only be provided by experienced staff who are able to provide emergency care for anaphylaxis and life-threatening episodes. A risk assessment to deliver treatment should be undertaken before treatment is commenced. PMID:27224630

  16. Contrasted evolution of the vomeronasal receptor repertoires in mammals and squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

    Brykczynska, Urszula; Tzika, Athanasia C; Rodriguez, Ivan; Milinkovitch, Michel C

    2013-01-01

    The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is an olfactory structure that detects pheromones and environmental cues. It consists of sensory neurons that express evolutionary unrelated groups of transmembrane chemoreceptors. The predominant V1R and V2R receptor repertoires are believed to detect airborne and water-soluble molecules, respectively. It has been suggested that the shift in habitat of early tetrapods from water to land is reflected by an increase in the ratio of V1R/V2R genes. Snakes, which have a very large VNO associated with a sophisticated tongue delivery system, are missing from this analysis. Here, we use RNA-seq and RNA in situ hybridization to study the diversity, evolution, and expression pattern of the corn snake vomeronasal receptor repertoires. Our analyses indicate that snakes and lizards retain an extremely limited number of V1R genes but exhibit a large number of V2R genes, including multiple lineages of reptile-specific and snake-specific expansions. We finally show that the peculiar bigenic pattern of V2R vomeronasal receptor gene transcription observed in mammals is conserved in squamate reptiles, hinting at an important but unknown functional role played by this expression strategy. Our results do not support the hypothesis that the shift to a vomeronasal receptor repertoire dominated by V1Rs in mammals reflects the evolutionary transition of early tetrapods from water to land. This study sheds light on the evolutionary dynamics of the vomeronasal receptor families in vertebrates and reveals how mammals and squamates differentially adapted the same ancestral vomeronasal repertoire to succeed in a terrestrial environment. PMID:23348039

  17. The monotreme genome: a patchwork of reptile, mammal and unique features?

    PubMed

    Grützner, Frank; Deakin, Janine; Rens, Willem; El-Mogharbel, Nisrine; Marshall Graves, Jennifer A

    2003-12-01

    The first specimen of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) that reached Britain in the late 18th century was regarded a scientific hoax. Over decades the anatomical characteristics of these unique mammals, such as egg laying and the existence of mammary glands, were hotly debated before they were accepted. Within the last 40 years, more and more details of monotreme physiology, histology, reproduction and genetics have been revealed. Some show similarities with birds or reptiles, some with therian mammals, but many are very specific to monotremes. The genome is no exception to monotreme uniqueness. An early opinion was that the karyotype, composed of a few large chromosomes and many small ones, resembled bird and reptile macro- and micro-chromosomes. However, the platypus genome also features characteristics that are not present in other mammals, such as a complex translocation system. The sex chromosome system is still not resolved. Nothing is known about dosage compensation and, unlike in therian mammals, there seems to be no genomic imprinting. In this article we will recount the mysteries of the monotreme genome and describe how we are using recently developed technology to identify chromosomes in mitosis, meiosis and sperm, to map genes to chromosomes, to unravel the sex chromosome system and the translocation chain and investigate X inactivation and genomic imprinting in monotremes. PMID:14667850

  18. Molecular Characterization of Reptile Pathogens Currently Known as Members of the Chrysosporium Anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii Complex and Relationship with Some Human-Associated Isolates

    PubMed Central

    Hambleton, Sarah; Paré, Jean A.

    2013-01-01

    In recent years, the Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV), Chrysosporium guarroi, Chrysosporium ophiodiicola, and Chrysosporium species have been reported as the causes of dermal or deep lesions in reptiles. These infections are contagious and often fatal and affect both captive and wild animals. Forty-nine CANV isolates from reptiles and six isolates from human sources were compared with N. vriesii based on their cultural characteristics and DNA sequence data. Analyses of the sequences of the internal transcribed spacer and small subunit of the nuclear ribosomal gene revealed that the reptile pathogens and human isolates belong in well-supported clades corresponding to three lineages that are distinct from all other taxa within the family Onygenaceae of the order Onygenales. One lineage represents the genus Nannizziopsis and comprises N. vriesii, N. guarroi, and six additional species encompassing isolates from chameleons and geckos, crocodiles, agamid and iguanid lizards, and humans. Two other lineages comprise the genus Ophidiomyces, with the species Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola occurring only in snakes, and Paranannizziopsis gen. nov., with three new species infecting squamates and tuataras. The newly described species are Nannizziopsis dermatitidis, Nannizziopsis crocodili, Nannizziopsis barbata, Nannizziopsis infrequens, Nannizziopsis hominis, Nannizziopsis obscura, Paranannizziopsis australasiensis, Paranannizziopsis californiensis, and Paranannizziopsis crustacea. Chrysosporium longisporum has been reclassified as Paranannizziopsis longispora. N. guarroi causes yellow fungus disease, a common infection in bearded dragons and green iguanas, and O. ophiodiicola is an emerging pathogen of captive and wild snakes. Human-associated species were not recovered from reptiles, and reptile-associated species were recovered only from reptiles, thereby mitigating concerns related to zoonosis. PMID:23926168

  19. Molecular characterization of reptile pathogens currently known as members of the chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii complex and relationship with some human-associated isolates.

    PubMed

    Sigler, Lynne; Hambleton, Sarah; Paré, Jean A

    2013-10-01

    In recent years, the Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV), Chrysosporium guarroi, Chrysosporium ophiodiicola, and Chrysosporium species have been reported as the causes of dermal or deep lesions in reptiles. These infections are contagious and often fatal and affect both captive and wild animals. Forty-nine CANV isolates from reptiles and six isolates from human sources were compared with N. vriesii based on their cultural characteristics and DNA sequence data. Analyses of the sequences of the internal transcribed spacer and small subunit of the nuclear ribosomal gene revealed that the reptile pathogens and human isolates belong in well-supported clades corresponding to three lineages that are distinct from all other taxa within the family Onygenaceae of the order Onygenales. One lineage represents the genus Nannizziopsis and comprises N. vriesii, N. guarroi, and six additional species encompassing isolates from chameleons and geckos, crocodiles, agamid and iguanid lizards, and humans. Two other lineages comprise the genus Ophidiomyces, with the species Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola occurring only in snakes, and Paranannizziopsis gen. nov., with three new species infecting squamates and tuataras. The newly described species are Nannizziopsis dermatitidis, Nannizziopsis crocodili, Nannizziopsis barbata, Nannizziopsis infrequens, Nannizziopsis hominis, Nannizziopsis obscura, Paranannizziopsis australasiensis, Paranannizziopsis californiensis, and Paranannizziopsis crustacea. Chrysosporium longisporum has been reclassified as Paranannizziopsis longispora. N. guarroi causes yellow fungus disease, a common infection in bearded dragons and green iguanas, and O. ophiodiicola is an emerging pathogen of captive and wild snakes. Human-associated species were not recovered from reptiles, and reptile-associated species were recovered only from reptiles, thereby mitigating concerns related to zoonosis. PMID:23926168

  20. Venomous bites, stings, and poisoning.

    PubMed

    Warrell, David A

    2012-06-01

    This article discusses the epidemiology, prevention, clinical features, first aid and medical treatment of venomous bites by snakes, lizards, and spiders; stings by fish, jellyfish, echinoderms, and insects; and poisoning by fish and molluscs, in all parts of the world. Of these envenoming and poisonings, snake bite causes the greatest burden of human suffering, killing 46,000 people each year in India alone and more than 100,000 worldwide and resulting in physical handicap in many survivors. Specific antidotes (antivenoms/antivenins) are available to treat envenoming by many of these taxa but supply and distribution is inadequate in many tropical developing countries. PMID:22632635

  1. Protease inhibitor in scorpion (Mesobuthus eupeus) venom prolongs the biological activities of the crude venom.

    PubMed

    Ma, Hakim; Xiao-Peng, Tang; Yang, Shi-Long; Lu, Qiu-Min; Lai, Ren

    2016-08-01

    It is hypothesized that protease inhibitors play an essential role in survival of venomous animals through protecting peptide/protein toxins from degradation by proteases in their prey or predators. However, the biological function of protease inhibitors in scorpion venoms remains unknown. In the present study, a trypsin inhibitor was purified and characterized from the venom of scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus, which enhanced the biological activities of crude venom components in mice when injected in combination with crude venom. This protease inhibitor, named MeKTT-1, belonged to Kunitz-type toxins subfamily. Native MeKTT-1 selectively inhibited trypsin with a Kivalue of 130 nmol·L(-1). Furthermore, MeKTT-1 was shown to be a thermo-stable peptide. In animal behavioral tests, MeKTT-1 prolonged the pain behavior induced by scorpion crude venom, suggesting that protease inhibitors in scorpion venom inhibited proteases and protect the functionally important peptide/protein toxins from degradation, consequently keeping them active longer. In conclusion, this was the first experimental evidence about the natural existence of serine protease inhibitor in the venom of scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus, which preserved the activity of venom components, suggests that scorpions may use protease inhibitors for survival. PMID:27608950

  2. Canopy Venom: Proteomic Comparison among New World Arboreal Pit-Viper Venoms.

    PubMed

    Debono, Jordan; Cochran, Chip; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Nouwens, Amanda; Rajapakse, Niwanthi W; Kawasaki, Minami; Wood, Kelly; Dobson, James; Baumann, Kate; Jouiaei, Mahdokht; Jackson, Timothy N W; Koludarov, Ivan; Low, Dolyce; Ali, Syed A; Smith, A Ian; Barnes, Andrew; Fry, Bryan G

    2016-01-01

    Central and South American pitvipers, belonging to the genera Bothrops and Bothriechis, have independently evolved arboreal tendencies. Little is known regarding the composition and activity of their venoms. In order to close this knowledge gap, venom proteomics and toxin activity of species of Bothriechis, and Bothrops (including Bothriopsis) were investigated through established analytical methods. A combination of proteomics and bioactivity techniques was used to demonstrate a similar diversification of venom composition between large and small species within Bothriechis and Bothriopsis. Increasing our understanding of the evolution of complex venom cocktails may facilitate future biodiscoveries. PMID:27399777

  3. Canopy Venom: Proteomic Comparison among New World Arboreal Pit-Viper Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Debono, Jordan; Cochran, Chip; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Nouwens, Amanda; Rajapakse, Niwanthi W.; Kawasaki, Minami; Wood, Kelly; Dobson, James; Baumann, Kate; Jouiaei, Mahdokht; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Koludarov, Ivan; Low, Dolyce; Ali, Syed A.; Smith, A. Ian; Barnes, Andrew; Fry, Bryan G.

    2016-01-01

    Central and South American pitvipers, belonging to the genera Bothrops and Bothriechis, have independently evolved arboreal tendencies. Little is known regarding the composition and activity of their venoms. In order to close this knowledge gap, venom proteomics and toxin activity of species of Bothriechis, and Bothrops (including Bothriopsis) were investigated through established analytical methods. A combination of proteomics and bioactivity techniques was used to demonstrate a similar diversification of venom composition between large and small species within Bothriechis and Bothriopsis. Increasing our understanding of the evolution of complex venom cocktails may facilitate future biodiscoveries. PMID:27399777

  4. Is Hybridization a Source of Adaptive Venom Variation in Rattlesnakes? A Test, Using a Crotalus scutulatus × viridis Hybrid Zone in Southwestern New Mexico

    PubMed Central

    Zancolli, Giulia; Baker, Timothy G.; Barlow, Axel; Bradley, Rebecca K.; Calvete, Juan J.; Carter, Kimberley C.; de Jager, Kaylah; Owens, John Benjamin; Price, Jenny Forrester; Sanz, Libia; Scholes-Higham, Amy; Shier, Liam; Wood, Liam; Wüster, Catharine E.; Wüster, Wolfgang

    2016-01-01

    Venomous snakes often display extensive variation in venom composition both between and within species. However, the mechanisms underlying the distribution of different toxins and venom types among populations and taxa remain insufficiently known. Rattlesnakes (Crotalus, Sistrurus) display extreme inter- and intraspecific variation in venom composition, centered particularly on the presence or absence of presynaptically neurotoxic phospholipases A2 such as Mojave toxin (MTX). Interspecific hybridization has been invoked as a mechanism to explain the distribution of these toxins across rattlesnakes, with the implicit assumption that they are adaptively advantageous. Here, we test the potential of adaptive hybridization as a mechanism for venom evolution by assessing the distribution of genes encoding the acidic and basic subunits of Mojave toxin across a hybrid zone between MTX-positive Crotalus scutulatus and MTX-negative C. viridis in southwestern New Mexico, USA. Analyses of morphology, mitochondrial and single copy-nuclear genes document extensive admixture within a narrow hybrid zone. The genes encoding the two MTX subunits are strictly linked, and found in most hybrids and backcrossed individuals, but not in C. viridis away from the hybrid zone. Presence of the genes is invariably associated with presence of the corresponding toxin in the venom. We conclude that introgression of highly lethal neurotoxins through hybridization is not necessarily favored by natural selection in rattlesnakes, and that even extensive hybridization may not lead to introgression of these genes into another species. PMID:27322321

  5. Is Hybridization a Source of Adaptive Venom Variation in Rattlesnakes? A Test, Using a Crotalus scutulatus × viridis Hybrid Zone in Southwestern New Mexico.

    PubMed

    Zancolli, Giulia; Baker, Timothy G; Barlow, Axel; Bradley, Rebecca K; Calvete, Juan J; Carter, Kimberley C; de Jager, Kaylah; Owens, John Benjamin; Price, Jenny Forrester; Sanz, Libia; Scholes-Higham, Amy; Shier, Liam; Wood, Liam; Wüster, Catharine E; Wüster, Wolfgang

    2016-01-01

    Venomous snakes often display extensive variation in venom composition both between and within species. However, the mechanisms underlying the distribution of different toxins and venom types among populations and taxa remain insufficiently known. Rattlesnakes (Crotalus, Sistrurus) display extreme inter- and intraspecific variation in venom composition, centered particularly on the presence or absence of presynaptically neurotoxic phospholipases A₂ such as Mojave toxin (MTX). Interspecific hybridization has been invoked as a mechanism to explain the distribution of these toxins across rattlesnakes, with the implicit assumption that they are adaptively advantageous. Here, we test the potential of adaptive hybridization as a mechanism for venom evolution by assessing the distribution of genes encoding the acidic and basic subunits of Mojave toxin across a hybrid zone between MTX-positive Crotalus scutulatus and MTX-negative C. viridis in southwestern New Mexico, USA. Analyses of morphology, mitochondrial and single copy-nuclear genes document extensive admixture within a narrow hybrid zone. The genes encoding the two MTX subunits are strictly linked, and found in most hybrids and backcrossed individuals, but not in C. viridis away from the hybrid zone. Presence of the genes is invariably associated with presence of the corresponding toxin in the venom. We conclude that introgression of highly lethal neurotoxins through hybridization is not necessarily favored by natural selection in rattlesnakes, and that even extensive hybridization may not lead to introgression of these genes into another species. PMID:27322321

  6. Transcriptome analysis of expressed sequence tags from the venom glands of the fish Thalassophryne nattereri.

    PubMed

    Magalhães, G S; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, I L M; Lopes-Ferreira, M; Lorenzini, D M; Ho, P L; Moura-da-Silva, A M

    2006-06-01

    Thalassophryne nattereri (niquim) is a venomous fish found on the northern and northeastern coasts of Brazil. Every year, hundreds of humans are affected by the poison, which causes excruciating local pain, edema, and necrosis, and can lead to permanent disabilities. In experimental models, T. nattereri venom induces edema and nociception, which are correlated to human symptoms and dependent on venom kininogenase activity; myotoxicity; impairment of blood flow; platelet lysis and cytotoxicity on endothelial cells. These effects were observed with minute amounts of venom. To characterize the primary structure of T. nattereri venom toxins, a list of transcripts within the venom gland was made using the expressed sequence tag (EST) strategy. Here we report the analysis of 775 ESTs that were obtained from a directional cDNA library of T. nattereri venom gland. Of these ESTs, 527 (68%) were related to sequences previously described. These were categorized into 10 groups according to their biological functions. Sequences involved in gene and protein expression accounted for 14.3% of the ESTs, reflecting the important role of protein synthesis in this gland. Other groups included proteins engaged in the assembly of disulfide bonds (0.5%), chaperones involved in the folding of nascent proteins (1.4%), and sequences related to clusterin (1.5%), as well as transcripts related to calcium binding proteins (1.0%). We detected a large cluster (1.3%) related to cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART), a peptide involved in the regulation of food intake. Surprisingly, several retrotransposon-like sequences (1.0%) were found in the library. It may be that their presence accounts for some of the variation in venom toxins. The toxin category (18.8%) included natterins (18%), which are a new group of kininogenases recently described by our group, and a group of C-type lectins (0.8%). In addition, a considerable number of sequences (32%) was not related to sequences in the

  7. The birdlike raptor Sinornithosaurus was venomous

    PubMed Central

    Gong, Enpu; Martin, Larry D.; Burnham, David A.; Falk, Amanda R.

    2009-01-01

    We suggest that some of the most avian dromaeosaurs, such as Sinornithosaurus, were venomous, and propose an ecological model for that taxon based on its unusual dentition and other cranial features including grooved teeth, a possible pocket for venom glands, and a groove leading from that pocket to the exposed bases of the teeth. These features are all analogous to the venomous morphology of lizards. Sinornithosaurus and related dromaeosaurs probably fed on the abundant birds of the Jehol forests during the Early Cretaceous in northeastern China. PMID:20080749

  8. Venom gland EST analysis of the saw-scaled viper, Echis ocellatus, reveals novel alpha9beta1 integrin-binding motifs in venom metalloproteinases and a new group of putative toxins, renin-like aspartic proteases.

    PubMed

    Wagstaff, Simon C; Harrison, Robert A

    2006-08-01

    Echis ocellatus is the most medically important snake in West Africa. However, the composition of its venom and the differential contribution of these venom components to the severe haemorrhagic and coagulopathic pathology of envenoming are poorly understood. To address this situation we assembled a toxin transcriptome based upon 1000 expressed sequence tags (EST) from a cDNA library constructed from pooled venom glands of 10 individual E. ocellatus. We used a variety of bioinformatic tools to construct a fully annotated venom-toxin transcriptome that was interrogated with a combination of BLAST annotation, gene ontology cataloguing and disintegrin-motif searching. The results of these analyses revealed an unusually abundant and diverse expression of snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMP) and a broad toxin-expression profile including several distinct isoforms of bradykinin-potentiating peptides, phospholipase A(2), C-type lectins, serine proteinases and l-amino oxidases. Most significantly, we identified for the first time a conserved alpha(9)beta(1) integrin-binding motif in several SVMPs, and a new group of putative venom toxins, renin-like aspartic proteases. PMID:16713134

  9. Structural and Functional Diversity of Peptide Toxins from Tarantula Haplopelma hainanum (Ornithoctonus hainana) Venom Revealed by Transcriptomic, Peptidomic, and Patch Clamp Approaches.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Yi-Ya; Huang, Yong; He, Quan-Ze; Luo, Ji; Zhu, Li; Lu, Shan-Shan; Liu, Jin-Yan; Huang, Peng-Fei; Zeng, Xiong-Zhi; Liang, Song-Ping

    2015-05-29

    Spider venom is a complex mixture of bioactive peptides to subdue their prey. Early estimates suggested that over 400 venom peptides are produced per species. In order to investigate the mechanisms responsible for this impressive diversity, transcriptomics based on second generation high throughput sequencing was combined with peptidomic assays to characterize the venom of the tarantula Haplopelma hainanum. The genes expressed in the venom glands were identified, and the bioactivity of their protein products was analyzed using the patch clamp technique. A total of 1,136 potential toxin precursors were identified that clustered into 90 toxin groups, of which 72 were novel. The toxin peptides clustered into 20 cysteine scaffolds that included between 4 and 12 cysteines, and 14 of these groups were newly identified in this spider. Highly abundant toxin peptide transcripts were present and resulted from hypermutation and/or fragment insertion/deletion. In combination with variable post-translational modifications, this genetic variability explained how a limited set of genes can generate hundreds of toxin peptides in venom glands. Furthermore, the intraspecies venom variability illustrated the dynamic nature of spider venom and revealed how complex components work together to generate diverse bioactivities that facilitate adaptation to changing environments, types of prey, and milking regimes in captivity. PMID:25770214

  10. Structural and Functional Diversity of Peptide Toxins from Tarantula Haplopelma hainanum (Ornithoctonus hainana) Venom Revealed by Transcriptomic, Peptidomic, and Patch Clamp Approaches*

    PubMed Central

    Zhang, Yi-Ya; Huang, Yong; He, Quan-Ze; Luo, Ji; Zhu, Li; Lu, Shan-Shan; Liu, Jin-Yan; Huang, Peng-Fei; Zeng, Xiong-Zhi; Liang, Song-Ping

    2015-01-01

    Spider venom is a complex mixture of bioactive peptides to subdue their prey. Early estimates suggested that over 400 venom peptides are produced per species. In order to investigate the mechanisms responsible for this impressive diversity, transcriptomics based on second generation high throughput sequencing was combined with peptidomic assays to characterize the venom of the tarantula Haplopelma hainanum. The genes expressed in the venom glands were identified, and the bioactivity of their protein products was analyzed using the patch clamp technique. A total of 1,136 potential toxin precursors were identified that clustered into 90 toxin groups, of which 72 were novel. The toxin peptides clustered into 20 cysteine scaffolds that included between 4 and 12 cysteines, and 14 of these groups were newly identified in this spider. Highly abundant toxin peptide transcripts were present and resulted from hypermutation and/or fragment insertion/deletion. In combination with variable post-translational modifications, this genetic variability explained how a limited set of genes can generate hundreds of toxin peptides in venom glands. Furthermore, the intraspecies venom variability illustrated the dynamic nature of spider venom and revealed how complex components work together to generate diverse bioactivities that facilitate adaptation to changing environments, types of prey, and milking regimes in captivity. PMID:25770214

  11. Not as docile as it looks? Loxosceles venom variation and loxoscelism in the Mediterranean Basin and the Canary Islands.

    PubMed

    Planas, Enric; Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A; Ribera, Carles; Binford, Greta

    2015-01-01

    The medical importance of Loxosceles spiders has promoted extensive research on different aspects of their venoms. Most of the reported cases of loxoscelism have occurred in the Americas, and thus, much work has focused on North and South American Loxosceles species. Interestingly, loxoscelism cases are rare in the Mediterranean Basin although Loxosceles rufescens, endemic to the Mediterranean, is an abundant spider even in human-altered areas. Thus, it has been suggested that the venom of L. rufescens could be of less medical relevance than that of its congeners. In this study, we challenge this hypothesis by using multiple approaches to study venom variation in selected species and lineages from the Mediterranean Basin and the Canary Islands. We found that SMase D activity, the key bioactive component of Loxosceles venom, is comparable to American species that are confirmed to have medically relevant bites. The venom protein composition using SDS-PAGE presents some differences among regional Loxosceles taxa in banding pattern and intensity, mostly between the Canarian and L. rufescens lineages. Differences between these species also exist in the expression of different paralogs of the SicTox gene family, with the Canarian species being less diverse. In conclusion, our results do not support the challenged hypothesis, and suggest that venom of these species may indeed be as potent as other Loxosceles species. Pending confirmation of loxoscelism with direct evidence of Loxosceles bites with species identification by professionals, Loxosceles in the Mediterranean region should conservatively be considered medically relevant taxa. PMID:25449105

  12. A Comparative Analysis of the Venom Gland Transcriptomes of the Fishing Spiders Dolomedes mizhoanus and Dolomedes sulfurous

    PubMed Central

    Xu, Xunxun; Wang, Hengyun; Zhang, Fang; Hu, Zhaotun; Liang, Songping; Liu, Zhonghua

    2015-01-01

    Dolomedes sulfurous and Dolomedes mizhoanus are predaceous arthropods catching and feeding on small fish. They live in the same area and have similar habits. Their venoms exhibit some similarities and differences in biochemical and electrophysiological properties. In the present work, we first performed a transcriptomic analysis by constructing the venom gland cDNA library of D. sulfurous and 127 novel putative toxin sequences were consequently identified, which were classified into eight families. This venom gland transcriptome was then compared with that of D. mizhoanus, which revealed that the putative toxins from both spider venoms might have originated from the same gene ancestors although novel toxins were evolved independently in the two spiders. The putative toxins from both spiders contain 6–12 cysteine residues forming seven cysteine patterns. As revealed by blast search, the two venoms are rich in neurotoxins targeting ion channels with pharmacological and therapeutic significance. This study provides insight into the venoms of two closely related species of spider, which will be of use for future investigations into the structure and function of their toxins. PMID:26445494

  13. Characterizing Tityus discrepans scorpion venom from a fractal perspective: Venom complexity, effects of captivity, sexual dimorphism, differences among species.

    PubMed

    D'Suze, Gina; Sandoval, Moisés; Sevcik, Carlos

    2015-12-15

    A characteristic of venom elution patterns, shared with many other complex systems, is that many their features cannot be properly described with statistical or euclidean concepts. The understanding of such systems became possible with Mandelbrot's fractal analysis. Venom elution patterns were produced using the reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with 1 mg of venom. One reason for the lack of quantitative analyses of the sources of venom variability is parametrizing the venom chromatograms' complexity. We quantize this complexity by means of an algorithm which estimates the contortedness (Q) of a waveform. Fractal analysis was used to compare venoms and to measure inter- and intra-specific venom variability. We studied variations in venom complexity derived from gender, seasonal and environmental factors, duration of captivity in the laboratory, technique used to milk venom. PMID:26415902

  14. Inhibition of Hemorragic Snake Venom Components: Old and New Approaches

    PubMed Central

    Panfoli, Isabella; Calzia, Daniela; Ravera, Silvia; Morelli, Alessandro

    2010-01-01

    Snake venoms are complex toxin mixtures. Viperidae and Crotalidae venoms, which are hemotoxic, are responsible for most of the envenomations around the world. Administration of antivenins aimed at the neutralization of toxins in humans is prone to potential risks. Neutralization of snake venom toxins has been achieved through different approaches: plant extracts have been utilized in etnomedicine. Direct electric current from low voltage showed neutralizing properties against venom phospholipase A2 and metalloproteases. This mini-review summarizes new achievements in venom key component inhibition. A deeper knowledge of alternative ways to inhibit venom toxins may provide supplemental treatments to serum therapy. PMID:22069593

  15. Hemostatic interference of Indian king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) Venom. Comparison with three other snake venoms of the subcontinent.

    PubMed

    Gowtham, Yashonandana J; Kumar, M S; Girish, K S; Kemparaju, K

    2012-06-01

    Unlike Naja naja, Bungarus caeruleus, Echis carinatus, and Daboia/Vipera russellii venoms, Ophiophagus hannah venom is medically ignored in the Indian subcontinent. Being the biggest poisonous snake, O. hannah has been presumed to inject several lethal doses of venom in a single bite. Lack of therapeutic antivenom to O. hannah bite in India makes any attempt to save the victim a difficult exercise. This study was initiated to compare O. hannah venom with the above said venoms for possible interference in hemostasis. Ophiophagus hannah venom was found to actively interfere in hemostatic stages such as fibrin clot formation, platelet activation/aggregation, and fibrin clot dissolution. It decreased partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), prothrombin time (PT), and thrombin clotting time (TCT). These activities are similar to that shown by E. carinatus and D. russellii venoms, and thus O. hannah venom was found to exert procoagulant activity through the common pathway of blood coagulation, while N. naja venom increased aPTT and TCT but not PT, and hence it was found to exert anticoagulant activity through the intrinsic pathway. Venoms of O. hannah, E. carinatus, and D. russellii lack plasminogen activation property as they do not hydrolyze azocasein, while they all show plasmin-like activity by degrading the fibrin clot. Although N. naja venom did not degrade azocasein, unlike other venoms, it showed feeble plasmin-like activity on fibrin clot. Venom of E. carinatus induced clotting of human platelet rich plasma (PRP), while the other three venoms interfered in agonist-induced platelet aggregation in PRP. Venom of O. hannah least inhibited the ADP induced platelet aggregation as compared to D. russellii and N. naja venoms. All these three venoms showed complete inhibition of epinephrine-induced aggregation at varied doses. However, O. hannah venom was unique in inhibiting thrombin induced aggregation. PMID:22817464

  16. Transcriptomic Messiness in the Venom Duct of Conus miles Contributes to Conotoxin Diversity*

    PubMed Central

    Jin, Ai-hua; Dutertre, Sébastien; Kaas, Quentin; Lavergne, Vincent; Kubala, Petra; Lewis, Richard J.; Alewood, Paul F.

    2013-01-01

    Marine cone snails have developed sophisticated chemical strategies to capture prey and defend themselves against predators. Among the vast array of bioactive molecules in their venom, peptide components called conotoxins or conopeptides dominate, with many binding with high affinity and selectivity to a broad range of cellular targets, including receptors and transporters of the nervous system. Whereas the conopeptide gene precursor organization has a conserved topology, the peptides in the venom duct are highly processed. Indeed, deep sequencing transcriptomics has uncovered on average fewer than 100 toxin gene precursors per species, whereas advanced proteomics has revealed >10-fold greater diversity at the peptide level. In the present study, second-generation sequencing technologies coupled to highly sensitive mass spectrometry methods were applied to rapidly uncover the conopeptide diversity in the venom of a worm-hunting species, Conus miles. A total of 662 putative conopeptide encoded sequences were retrieved from transcriptomic data, comprising 48 validated conotoxin sequences that clustered into 10 gene superfamilies, including 3 novel superfamilies and a novel cysteine framework (C-C-C-CCC-C-C) identified at both transcript and peptide levels. A surprisingly large number of conopeptide gene sequences were expressed at low levels, including a series of single amino acid variants, as well as sequences containing deletions and frame and stop codon shifts. Some of the toxin variants generate alternative cleavage sites, interrupted or elongated cysteine frameworks, and highly variable isoforms within families that could be identified at the peptide level. Together with the variable peptide processing identified previously, background genetic and phenotypic levels of biological messiness in venoms contribute to the hypervariability of venom peptides and their ability to evolve rapidly. PMID:24043424

  17. The earliest herbivorous marine reptile and its remarkable jaw apparatus.

    PubMed

    Chun, Li; Rieppel, Olivier; Long, Cheng; Fraser, Nicholas C

    2016-05-01

    Newly discovered fossils of the Middle Triassic reptile Atopodentatus unicus call for a radical reassessment of its feeding behavior. The skull displays a pronounced hammerhead shape that was hitherto unknown. The long, straight anterior edges of both upper and lower jaws were lined with batteries of chisel-shaped teeth, whereas the remaining parts of the jaw rami supported densely packed needle-shaped teeth forming a mesh. The evidence indicates a novel feeding mechanism wherein the chisel-shaped teeth were used to scrape algae off the substrate, and the plant matter that was loosened was filtered from the water column through the more posteriorly positioned tooth mesh. This is the oldest record of herbivory within marine reptiles. PMID:27386529

  18. The earliest herbivorous marine reptile and its remarkable jaw apparatus

    PubMed Central

    Chun, Li; Rieppel, Olivier; Long, Cheng; Fraser, Nicholas C.

    2016-01-01

    Newly discovered fossils of the Middle Triassic reptile Atopodentatus unicus call for a radical reassessment of its feeding behavior. The skull displays a pronounced hammerhead shape that was hitherto unknown. The long, straight anterior edges of both upper and lower jaws were lined with batteries of chisel-shaped teeth, whereas the remaining parts of the jaw rami supported densely packed needle-shaped teeth forming a mesh. The evidence indicates a novel feeding mechanism wherein the chisel-shaped teeth were used to scrape algae off the substrate, and the plant matter that was loosened was filtered from the water column through the more posteriorly positioned tooth mesh. This is the oldest record of herbivory within marine reptiles. PMID:27386529

  19. Venom-based biotoxins as potential analgesics.

    PubMed

    Gazerani, Parisa; Cairns, Brian Edwin

    2014-11-01

    Chronic pain is a common debilitating condition with negative social and economic consequences. Management of chronic pain is challenging and the currently available medications do not yet yield satisfactory outcomes for many patients. Venom-derived biotoxins from various venomous species consist of several substances with different structures and compositions that include peptides. A unique characteristic of some venom-based biotoxins is the ability to block essential components of the pain signaling system, notably ion channels. This property is leading to the evaluation of the potential of biotoxins as analgesics to manage chronic pain. In addition to their therapeutic potential, biotoxins have also been essential tools to probe mechanisms underlying pain signaling, channelopathies and receptor expression. This review discusses venom-derived peptidergic biotoxins that are in preclinical stages or already in clinical trials. Some promising results from preliminary in vitro studies, ongoing challenges and unmet needs will also be discussed. PMID:25234848

  20. Cretaceous choristoderan reptiles gave birth to live young

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ji, Qiang; Wu, Xiao-Chun; Cheng, Yen-Nien

    2010-04-01

    Viviparity (giving birth to live young) in fossil reptiles has been known only in a few marine groups: ichthyosaurs, pachypleurosaurs, and mosasaurs. Here, we report a pregnant specimen of the Early Cretaceous Hyphalosaurus baitaigouensis, a species of Choristodera, a diapsid group known from unequivocal fossil remains from the Middle Jurassic to the early Miocene (about 165 to 20 million years ago). This specimen provides the first evidence of viviparity in choristoderan reptiles and is also the sole record of viviparity in fossil reptiles which lived in freshwater ecosystems. This exquisitely preserved specimen contains up to 18 embryos arranged in pairs. Size comparison with small free-living individuals and the straight posture of the posterior-most pair suggest that those embryos were at term and had probably reached parturition. The posterior-most embryo on the left side has the head positioned toward the rear, contrary to normal position, suggesting a complication that may have contributed to the mother’s death. Viviparity would certainly have freed species of Hyphalosaurus from the need to return to land to deposit eggs; taking this advantage, they would have avoided intense competition with contemporaneous terrestrial carnivores such as dinosaurs.

  1. Social learning by imitation in a reptile (Pogona vitticeps).

    PubMed

    Kis, Anna; Huber, Ludwig; Wilkinson, Anna

    2015-01-01

    The ability to learn through imitation is thought to be the basis of cultural transmission and was long considered a distinctive characteristic of humans. There is now evidence that both mammals and birds are capable of imitation. However, nothing is known about these abilities in the third amniotic class-reptiles. Here, we use a bidirectional control procedure to show that a reptile species, the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps), is capable of social learning that cannot be explained by simple mechanisms such as local enhancement or goal emulation. Subjects in the experimental group opened a trap door to the side that had been demonstrated, while subjects in the ghost control group, who observed the door move without the intervention of a conspecific, were unsuccessful. This, together with differences in behaviour between experimental and control groups, provides compelling evidence that reptiles possess cognitive abilities that are comparable to those observed in mammals and birds and suggests that learning by imitation is likely to be based on ancient mechanisms. PMID:25199480

  2. Discrimination of flicker frequency rates in the reptile tuatara ( Sphenodon )

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Woo, Kevin L.; Hunt, Maree; Harper, David; Nelson, Nicola J.; Daugherty, Charles H.; Bell, Ben D.

    2009-03-01

    By investigating the mechanisms that underlie the perception of environmental cues, we may begin to understand how the sensory system governs behavioral responses. This is the first empirical study to examine learning and visual sensitivity in a reptile species, the tuatara ( Sphenodon punctatus). We established a non-intrusive psychophysical method by employing an instrumental paradigm in order to examine discrimination learning and the ability to distinguish different flicker frequencies in the tuatara. Seventeen tuatara were trained under an operant conditioning task to respond to various discriminative stimuli flickering between 2.65 and 65.09 Hz. Tuatara were able to learn the operant task and discriminate between a constant light and flicker frequency rates between 2.65 and 45.61 Hz, but not at 65.09 Hz. We demonstrated a reliable psychophysical method where these reptiles could learn a basic operant task and discriminate visual stimuli in the form of flicker frequency rates. The tuatara’s ability to perceive flickering light is comparable to that of avian, mammalian, and other reptilian species. This method is thus suitable for more comprehensive examinations of vision and additional sensory abilities in other reptiles.

  3. Macroevolution of venom apparatus innovations in auger snails (Gastropoda; Conoidea; Terebridae)

    PubMed Central

    Castelin, M.; Puillandre, N.; Kantor, Yu. I.; Modica, M.V.; Terryn, Y.; Cruaud, C.; Bouchet, P.; Holford, M.

    2012-01-01

    The Terebridae are a diverse family of tropical and subtropical marine gastropods that use a complex and modular venom apparatus to produce toxins that capture polychaete and enteropneust preys. The complexity of the terebrid venom apparatus suggests that venom apparatus development in the Terebridae could be linked to the diversification of the group and can be analyzed within a molecular phylogenetic scaffold to better understand terebrid evolution. Presented here is a molecular phylogeny of 89 terebrid species belonging to 12 of the 15 currently accepted genera, based on Bayesian inference and Maximum Likelihood analyses of amplicons of 3 mitochondrial (COI, 16S and 12S) and one nuclear (28S) genes. The evolution of the anatomy of the terebrid venom apparatus was assessed by mapping traits of six related characters: proboscis, venom gland, odontophore, accessory proboscis structure, radula, and salivary glands. A novel result concerning terebrid phylogeny was the discovery of a previously unrecognized lineage, which includes species of Euterebra and Duplicaria. The non- monophyly of most terebrid genera analyzed indicates that the current genus-level classification of the group is plagued with homoplasy and requires further taxonomic investigations. Foregut anatomy in the family Terebridae reveals an inordinate diversity of features that covers the range of variability within the entire superfamily Conoidea, and that hypodermic radulae have likely evolved independently on at least three occasions. These findings illustrate that terebrid venom apparatus evolution is not perfunctory, and involves independent and numerous changes of central features in the foregut anatomy. The multiple emergence of hypodermic marginal radular teeth in terebrids are presumably associated with variable functionalities, suggesting that terebrids have adapted to dietary changes that may have resulted from predator-prey relationships. The anatomical and phylogenetic results presented

  4. Snake oil and venoms for medical research

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wolpert, H. D.

    2011-04-01

    Some think that using derivatives of snake venom for medical purposes is the modern version of snake oil but they are seriously misjudging the research potentials of some of these toxins in medicines of the 2000's. Medical trials, using some of the compounds has proven their usefulness. Several venoms have shown the possibilities that could lead to anticoagulants, helpful in heart disease. The blood clotting protein from the taipan snake has been shown to rapidly stop excessive bleeding. The venom from the copperhead may hold an answer to breast cancer. The Malaysian pit viper shows promise in breaking blood clots. Cobra venom may hold keys to finding cures for Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. Rattlesnake proteins from certain species have produced blood pressure medicines. Besides snake venoms, venom from the South American dart frog, mollusks (i.e. Cone Shell Snail), lizards (i.e. Gila Monster & Komodo Dragon), some species of spiders and tarantulas, Cephalopods, mammals (i.e. Platypus & Shrews), fish (i.e. sting rays, stone fish, puffer fish, blue bottle fish & box jelly fish), intertidal marine animals (echinoderms)(i.e. Crown of Thorn Star Fish & Flower Urchin) and the Honeybee are being investigated for potential medical benefits.

  5. Black Bear Reactions to Venomous and Non-venomous Snakes in Eastern North America

    PubMed Central

    Rogers, Lynn L; Mansfield, Susan A; Hornby, Kathleen; Hornby, Stewart; Debruyn, Terry D; Mize, Malvin; Clark, Rulon; Burghardt, Gordon M

    2014-01-01

    Bears are often considered ecological equivalents of large primates, but the latter often respond with fear, avoidance, and alarm calls to snakes, both venomous and non-venomous, there is sparse information on how bears respond to snakes. We videotaped or directly observed natural encounters between black bears (Ursus americanus) and snakes. Inside the range of venomous snakes in Arkansas and West Virginia, adolescent and adult black bears reacted fearfully in seven of seven encounters upon becoming aware of venomous and non-venomous snakes; but in northern Michigan and Minnesota where venomous snakes have been absent for millennia, black bears showed little or no fear in four encounters with non-venomous snakes of three species. The possible roles of experience and evolution in bear reactions to snakes and vice versa are discussed. In all areas studied, black bears had difficulty to recognize non-moving snakes by smell or sight. Bears did not react until snakes moved in 11 of 12 encounters with non-moving timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) and four species of harmless snakes. However, in additional tests in this study, bears were repulsed by garter snakes that had excreted pungent anal exudates, which may help explain the absence of snakes, both venomous and harmless, in bear diets reported to date. PMID:25635152

  6. Recombinant snake venom prothrombin activators.

    PubMed

    Lövgren, Ann

    2013-01-01

    Three prothrombin activators; ecarin, which was originally isolated from the venom of the saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus, trocarin from the rough-scaled snake Tropidechis carinatus, and oscutarin from the Taipan snake Oxyuranus scutellatus, were expressed in mammalian cells with the purpose to obtain recombinant prothrombin activators that could be used to convert prothrombin to thrombin. We have previously reported that recombinant ecarin can efficiently generate thrombin without the need for additional cofactors, but does not discriminate non-carboxylated prothrombin from biologically active γ-carboxylated prothrombin. Here we report that recombinant trocarin and oscutarin could not efficiently generate thrombin without additional protein co-factors. We confirm that both trocarin and oscutarin are similar to human coagulation Factor X (FX), explaining the need for additional cofactors. Sequencing of a genomic fragment containing 7 out of the 8 exons coding for oscutarin further confirmed the similarity to human FX. PMID:23111318

  7. Phylogenetic relationships among amphisbaenian reptiles based on complete mitochondrial genomic sequences

    SciTech Connect

    Macey, J. Robert; Papenfuss, Theodore J.; Kuehl, Jennifer V.; Fourcade, H. Matthew; Boore, Jeffrey L.

    2004-05-19

    Complete mitochondrial genomic sequences are reported from 12 members in the four families of the reptile group Amphisbaenia. Analysis of 11,946 aligned nucleotide positions (5,797 informative) produces a robust phylogenetic hypothesis. The family Rhineuridae is basal and Bipedidae is the sister taxon to the Amphisbaenidae plus Trogonophidae. Amphisbaenian reptiles are surprisingly old, predating the breakup of Pangaea 200 million years before present, because successive basal taxa (Rhineuridae and Bipedidae) are situated in tectonic regions of Laurasia and nested taxa (Amphisbaenidae and Trogonophidae) are found in Gondwanan regions. Thorough sampling within the Bipedidae shows that it is not tectonic movement of Baja California away from the Mexican mainland that is primary in isolating Bipes species, but rather that primary vicariance occurred between northern and southern groups. Amphisbaenian families show parallel reduction in number of limbs and Bipes species exhibit parallel reduction in number of digits. A measure is developed for comparing the phylogenetic information content of various genes. A synapomorphic trait defining the Bipedidae is a shift from the typical vertebrate mitochondrial gene arrangement to the derived state of trnE and nad6. In addition, a tandem duplication of trnT and trnP is observed in B. biporus with a pattern of pseudogene formation that varies among populations. The first case of convergent rearrangement of the mitochondrial genome among animals demonstrated by complete genomic sequences is reported. Relative to most vertebrates, the Rhineuridae has the block nad6, trnE switched in order with cob, trnT, trnP, as they are in birds.

  8. Reptiles and Mammals Have Differentially Retained Long Conserved Noncoding Sequences from the Amniote Ancestor

    PubMed Central

    Janes, D.E.; Chapus, C.; Gondo, Y.; Clayton, D.F.; Sinha, S.; Blatti, C.A.; Organ, C.L.; Fujita, M.K.; Balakrishnan, C.N.; Edwards, S.V.

    2011-01-01

    Many noncoding regions of genomes appear to be essential to genome function. Conservation of large numbers of noncoding sequences has been reported repeatedly among mammals but not thus far among birds and reptiles. By searching genomes of chicken (Gallus gallus), zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), and green anole (Anolis carolinensis), we quantified the conservation among birds and reptiles and across amniotes of long, conserved noncoding sequences (LCNS), which we define as sequences ≥500 bp in length and exhibiting ≥95% similarity between species. We found 4,294 LCNS shared between chicken and zebra finch and 574 LCNS shared by the two birds and Anolis. The percent of genomes comprised by LCNS in the two birds (0.0024%) is notably higher than the percent in mammals (<0.0003% to <0.001%), differences that we show may be explained in part by differences in genome-wide substitution rates. We reconstruct a large number of LCNS for the amniote ancestor (ca. 8,630) and hypothesize differential loss and substantial turnover of these sites in descendent lineages. By contrast, we estimated a small role for recruitment of LCNS via acquisition of novel functions over time. Across amniotes, LCNS are significantly enriched with transcription factor binding sites for many developmental genes, and 2.9% of LCNS shared between the two birds show evidence of expression in brain expressed sequence tag databases. These results show that the rate of retention of LCNS from the amniote ancestor differs between mammals and Reptilia (including birds) and that this may reflect differing roles and constraints in gene regulation. PMID:21183607

  9. Neutralization of venom-induced hemorrhage by equine antibodies raised by immunization with a plasmid encoding a novel P-II metalloproteinase from the lancehead pitviper Bothrops asper.

    PubMed

    Arce-Estrada, Viviana; Azofeifa-Cordero, Gabriela; Estrada, Ricardo; Alape-Girón, Alberto; Flores-Díaz, Marietta

    2009-01-14

    In this work, the cDNA encoding a novel P-II type metalloproteinase from Bothrops asper venom glands was cloned, sequenced and used for DNA immunization of animals with accelerated DNA-coated tungsten microparticles and the helius Gene Gun system. Specific antibodies against B. asper venom antigens were induced in mice co-immunized with the plasmid encoding the P-II metalloproteinase together with an expression plasmid encoding the murine IL-2. Similarly, specific antibodies against B. asper venom antigens were also induced in a horse co-immunized with the plasmid encoding the P-II metalloproteinase, together with a plasmid encoding the equine IL-6. The equine antibodies induced by immunization with the P-II metalloproteinase encoding plasmid cross react with several proteins of B. asper, Crotalus durissus durissus, and Lachesis stenophrys venoms in western blot, demonstrating antigenic similarity between the cloned metalloproteinase and other metalloproteinases present in these venoms. Furthermore, the equine antibodies induced by immunization with the P-II metalloproteinase encoding plasmid completely neutralized the hemorrhagic activity of the whole B. asper venom and partially the hemorrhagic activity of C. durissus durissus venom. The neutralizing ability of the produced antibodies raises, for the first time, the possibility of developing therapeutic antivenoms in horses by DNA immunization using tungsten microparticles. PMID:19013207

  10. Identification of cDNAs encoding viper venom hyaluronidases: cross-generic sequence conservation of full-length and unusually short variant transcripts.

    PubMed

    Harrison, Robert A; Ibison, Frances; Wilbraham, Davina; Wagstaff, Simon C

    2007-05-01

    The immobilisation of prey by snakes is most efficiently achieved by the rapid dissemination of venom from its site of injection into the blood stream. Hyaluronidase is a common component of snake venoms and has been termed the "venom spreading factor". In the absence of nucleotide or protein sequence data to confirm the functional identity of this venom component, we interrogated a venom gland EST database for the saw-scaled viper, Echis ocellatus (Nigeria), using the gene ontology (GO) term "carbohydrate metabolism". A single hyalurononglucosaminadase-activity matching sequence (EOC00242) was found and used to design PCR primers to acquire the full-length cDNA sequence. Although very different from the bee venom and mammalian hyaluronidase sequences, the E. ocellatus sequence retained all the catalytic, positional and structural residues that characterise this class of carbohydrate metabolising hydrolases. An extraordinarily high level of sequence identity (>95%) was observed in analogous venom gland cDNA sequences isolated (by PCR) from another saw-scaled viper species, E. pyramidum leakeyi (Kenya), and from the sahara horned viper, Cerastes cerastes cerastes (Egypt) and the puff adder, Bitis arietans (Nigeria). Smaller amplicons, lacking hyaluronidase catalytic residues because of 768 bp or 855 bp central deletions, appear to encode either truncated peptides without hyaluronidase activity, or are non-translated transcripts because they lack consensus translation initiating motifs. PMID:17210232

  11. Kininogenase activity of Thalassophryne nattereri fish venom.

    PubMed

    Lopes-Ferreira, Mônica; Emim, José Artur da Silva; Oliveira, Vitor; Puzer, Luciano; Cezari, Maria Helena; Araújo, Mariana da Silva; Juliano, Luiz; Lapa, Antônio José; Souccar, Caden; Moura-da-Silva, Ana Maria

    2004-12-01

    Accidents caused by the venomous fish Thalassophryne nattereri are characterized by edema, intense pain and necrosis at the site of the sting. This study assessed the nociceptive and edematogenic activities of T. nattereri venom after injection into the mouse hindpaw and determination of the paw licking duration and weight. Subplantar injections of the venom (0.1-6 microg) induced a dose-related increase of the paw licking time and paw swelling with maximal values at 3 microg (209.5 +/- 57.5 s and 135.0 +/- 6.8 mg, respectively). Pretreatment of mice with either indomethacin (10 mg/kg, i.p.), a cyclooxygenase inhibitor, dexamethasone (1 mg/kg, s.c.), a steroid anti-inflammatory agent, cyproheptadine (1 mg/kg, i.p.), antagonist of serotonin receptors or L-NAME (100 mg/kg, s.c.), inhibitor of nitric oxide syntase, did not affect the venom-induced nociceptive and edematogenic responses. Injection of the opioid analgesic fentanyl (0.1 mg/kg, s.c.) reduced the paw licking time induced by 1 microg venom by 84% of control, without affecting the paw swelling. Both nociceptive and edematogenic responses were reduced after treatment with a specific tissue kallikrein inhibitor (TKI, 100 mg/kg, i.p.) by 78% and 24% from control values, respectively. Administration of a specific plasma kallikrein inhibitor (PKSI(527,) 100 mg/kg, s.c.) did not affect the venom-induced nociceptive response, but it decreased the paw edema by 15% from control. After injection of the angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor captopril (100 mg/kg, i.p.) the venom-induced nociceptive end edematogenic responses were increased by two-fold. The role of kallikreins possibly present in the venom was further assessed by hydrolysis of human kininogen and kininogen-derived synthetic peptides, showing the release of kallidin (Lys-bradykinin). The hydrolysis was inhibited by metal chelating agents but not by serino-, aspartyl- or cysteino-proteinase inhibitors. The data suggest that a protease with tissue

  12. Diversity, phylogenetic distribution, and origins of venomous catfishes

    PubMed Central

    2009-01-01

    Background The study of venomous fishes is in a state of relative infancy when compared to that of other groups of venomous organisms. Catfishes (Order Siluriformes) are a diverse group of bony fishes that have long been known to include venomous taxa, but the extent and phylogenetic distribution of this venomous species diversity has never been documented, while the nature of the venoms themselves also remains poorly understood. In this study, I used histological preparations from over 100 catfish genera, basic biochemical and toxicological analyses of fin spine extracts from several species, and previous systematic studies of catfishes to examine the distribution of venom glands in this group. These results also offer preliminary insights into the evolutionary history of venom glands in the Siluriformes. Results Histological examinations of 158 catfish species indicate that approximately 1250-1625+ catfish species should be presumed to be venomous, when viewed in conjunction with several hypotheses of siluriform phylogeny. Maximum parsimony character optimization analyses indicate two to three independent derivations of venom glands within the Siluriformes. A number of putative toxic peptides were identified in the venoms of catfish species from many of the families determined to contain venomous representatives. These peptides elicit a wide array of physiological effects in other fishes, though any one species examined produced no more than three distinct putative toxins in its venom. The molecular weights and effects produced by these putative toxic peptides show strong similarities to previously characterized toxins found in catfish epidermal secretions. Conclusion Venom glands have evolved multiple times in catfishes (Order Siluriformes), and venomous catfishes may outnumber the combined diversity of all other venomous vertebrates. The toxic peptides found in catfish venoms may be derived from epidermal secretions that have been demonstrated to accelerate the

  13. The Fungal Pathogen Moniliophthora perniciosa Has Genes Similar to Plant PR-1 That Are Highly Expressed during Its Interaction with Cacao

    PubMed Central

    Vidal, Ramon O.; do Prado, Paula F.V.; Reis, Osvaldo; Baroni, Renata M.; Franco, Sulamita F.; Mieczkowski, Piotr; Pereira, Gonçalo A.G.; Mondego, Jorge M.C.

    2012-01-01

    The widespread SCP/TAPS superfamily (SCP/Tpx-1/Ag5/PR-1/Sc7) has multiple biological functions, including roles in the immune response of plants and animals, development of male reproductive tract in mammals, venom activity in insects and reptiles and host invasion by parasitic worms. Plant Pathogenesis Related 1 (PR-1) proteins belong to this superfamily and have been characterized as markers of induced defense against pathogens. This work presents the characterization of eleven genes homologous to plant PR-1 genes, designated as MpPR-1, which were identified in the genome of Moniliophthora perniciosa, a basidiomycete fungus responsible for causing the devastating witches' broom disease in cacao. We describe gene structure, protein alignment and modeling analyses of the MpPR-1 family. Additionally, the expression profiles of MpPR-1 genes were assessed by qPCR in different stages throughout the fungal life cycle. A specific expression pattern was verified for each member of the MpPR-1 family in the conditions analyzed. Interestingly, some of them were highly and specifically expressed during the interaction of the fungus with cacao, suggesting a role for the MpPR-1 proteins in the infective process of this pathogen. Hypothetical functions assigned to members of the MpPR-1 family include neutralization of plant defenses, antimicrobial activity to avoid competitors and fruiting body physiology. This study provides strong evidence on the importance of PR-1-like genes for fungal virulence on plants. PMID:23029323

  14. Differential Evolution and Neofunctionalization of Snake Venom Metalloprotease Domains*

    PubMed Central

    Brust, Andreas; Sunagar, Kartik; Undheim, Eivind A.B.; Vetter, Irina; Yang, Daryl C.; Casewell, Nicholas R.; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Koludarov, Ivan; Alewood, Paul F.; Hodgson, Wayne C.; Lewis, Richard J.; King, Glenn F.; Antunes, Agostinho; Hendrikx, Iwan; Fry, Bryan G.

    2013-01-01

    Snake venom metalloproteases (SVMP) are composed of five domains: signal peptide, propeptide, metalloprotease, disintegrin, and cysteine-rich. Secreted toxins are typically combinatorial variations of the latter three domains. The SVMP-encoding genes of Psammophis mossambicus venom are unique in containing only the signal and propeptide domains. We show that the Psammophis SVMP propeptide evolves rapidly and is subject to a high degree of positive selection. Unlike Psammophis, some species of Echis express both the typical multidomain and the unusual monodomain (propeptide only) SVMP, with the result that a lower level of variation is exerted upon the latter. We showed that most mutations in the multidomain Echis SVMP occurred in the protease domain responsible for proteolytic and hemorrhagic activities. The cysteine-rich and disintegrin-like domains, which are putatively responsible for making the P-III SVMPs more potent than the P-I and P-II forms, accumulate the remaining variation. Thus, the binding sites on the molecule's surface are evolving rapidly whereas the core remains relatively conserved. Bioassays conducted on two post-translationally cleaved novel proline-rich peptides from the P. mossambicus propeptide domain showed them to have been neofunctionalized for specific inhibition of mammalian a7 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. We show that the proline rich postsynaptic specific neurotoxic peptides from Azemiops feae are the result of convergent evolution within the precursor region of the C-type natriuretic peptide instead of the SVMP. The results of this study reinforce the value of studying obscure venoms for biodiscovery of novel investigational ligands. PMID:23242553

  15. Red List of amphibians and reptiles of the Wadden Sea area

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fog, K.; Podloucky, R.; Dierking, U.; Stumpel, A. H. P.

    1996-10-01

    In the Wadden Sea, in total, 8 species of amphibians and 4 species of reptiles are threatened in at least one subregion. Of these, 7 species of amphibians and all 4 species of reptiles are threatened in the entire area and are therefore placed on the trilateral Red List. 1 species of the listed reptiles is (probably) extinct in the entire Wadden Sea area. The status of 1 species of amphibians is endangered, the status of (probably) 4 species of amphibians and 3 species of reptiles are vulnerable and of 2 species of amphibians susceptible.

  16. Using operant conditioning and desensitization to facilitate veterinary care with captive reptiles.

    PubMed

    Hellmuth, Heidi; Augustine, Lauren; Watkins, Barbara; Hope, Katharine

    2012-09-01

    In addition to being a large component of most zoological collections, reptile species are becoming more popular as family pets. Reptiles have the cognitive ability to be trained to facilitate daily husbandry and veterinary care. Desensitization and operant conditioning can alleviate some of the behavioral and physiological challenges of treating these species. A survey of reptile training programs at zoos in the United States and worldwide reveals that there are many successful training programs to facilitate veterinary care and minimize stress to the animal. Many of the techniques being used to train reptiles in zoological settings are transferable to the exotic pet clinician. PMID:22998960

  17. Transcriptome Analysis in Venom Gland of the Predatory Giant Ant Dinoponera quadriceps: Insights into the Polypeptide Toxin Arsenal of Hymenopterans

    PubMed Central

    Chong, Cheong-Meng; Leung, Siu Wai; Prieto-da-Silva, Álvaro R. B.; Havt, Alexandre; Quinet, Yves P.; Martins, Alice M. C.; Lee, Simon M. Y.; Rádis-Baptista, Gandhi

    2014-01-01

    Background Dinoponera quadriceps is a predatory giant ant that inhabits the Neotropical region and subdues its prey (insects) with stings that deliver a toxic cocktail of molecules. Human accidents occasionally occur and cause local pain and systemic symptoms. A comprehensive study of the D. quadriceps venom gland transcriptome is required to advance our knowledge about the toxin repertoire of the giant ant venom and to understand the physiopathological basis of Hymenoptera envenomation. Results We conducted a transcriptome analysis of a cDNA library from the D. quadriceps venom gland with Sanger sequencing in combination with whole-transcriptome shotgun deep sequencing. From the cDNA library, a total of 420 independent clones were analyzed. Although the proportion of dinoponeratoxin isoform precursors was high, the first giant ant venom inhibitor cysteine-knot (ICK) toxin was found. The deep next generation sequencing yielded a total of 2,514,767 raw reads that were assembled into 18,546 contigs. A BLAST search of the assembled contigs against non-redundant and Swiss-Prot databases showed that 6,463 contigs corresponded to BLASTx hits and indicated an interesting diversity of transcripts related to venom gene expression. The majority of these venom-related sequences code for a major polypeptide core, which comprises venom allergens, lethal-like proteins and esterases, and a minor peptide framework composed of inter-specific structurally conserved cysteine-rich toxins. Both the cDNA library and deep sequencing yielded large proportions of contigs that showed no similarities with known sequences. Conclusions To our knowledge, this is the first report of the venom gland transcriptome of the New World giant ant D. quadriceps. The glandular venom system was dissected, and the toxin arsenal was revealed; this process brought to light novel sequences that included an ICK-folded toxins, allergen proteins, esterases (phospholipases and carboxylesterases), and lethal

  18. Venom proteomic and venomous glands transcriptomic analysis of the Egyptian scorpion Scorpio maurus palmatus (Arachnida: Scorpionidae).

    PubMed

    Abdel-Rahman, Mohamed A; Quintero-Hernandez, Veronica; Possani, Lourival D

    2013-11-01

    Proteomic analysis of the scorpion venom Scorpio maurus palmatus was performed using reverse-phase HPLC separation followed by mass spectrometry determination. Sixty five components were identified with molecular masses varying from 413 to 14,009 Da. The high percentage of peptides (41.5%) was from 3 to 5 KDa which may represent linear antimicrobial peptides and KScTxs. Also, 155 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were analyzed through construction the cDNA library prepared from a pair of venomous gland. About 77% of the ESTs correspond to toxin-like peptides and proteins with definite open reading frames. The cDNA sequencing results also show the presence of sequences whose putative products have sequence similarity with antimicrobial peptides (24%), insecticidal toxins, β-NaScTxs, κ-KScTxs, α-KScTxs, calcines and La1-like peptides. Also, we have obtained 23 atypical types of venom molecules not recorded in other scorpion species. Moreover, 9% of the total ESTs revealed significant similarities with proteins involved in the cellular processes of these scorpion venomous glands. This is the first set of molecular masses and transcripts described from this species, in which various venom molecules have been identified. They belong to either known or unassigned types of scorpion venom peptides and proteins, and provide valuable information for evolutionary analysis and venomics. PMID:23998939

  19. Characterization of venom (Duvernoy's secretion) from twelve species of colubrid snakes and partial sequence of four venom proteins.

    PubMed

    Hill, R E; Mackessy, S P

    2000-12-01

    R.E. Hill and S.P. Mackessy. Characterization of venom (Duvernoy's secretion) from twelve species of colubrid snakes and partial sequence of four venom proteins. Toxicon XX, xx-yy, 2000. - Venomous colubrids, which include more than 700 snake species worldwide, represent a vast potential source of novel biological compounds. The present study characterized venom (Duvernoy's gland secretion) collected from twelve species of opisthoglyphous (rear-fanged) colubrid snakes, an extremely diverse assemblage of non-venomous to highly venomous snakes. Most venoms displayed proteolytic activity (casein), though activity levels varied considerably. Low phosphodiesterase activity was detected in several venoms (Amphiesma stolata, Diadophis punctatus, Heterodon nasicus kennerlyi, H. n. nasicus and Thamnophis elegans vagrans), and acetylcholinesterase was found in Boiga irregularis saliva and venom, but no venoms displayed hyaluronidase, thrombin-like or kallikrein-like activities. High phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)) activity was found in Trimorphodon biscutatus lambda venom, and moderate levels were detected in Boiga dendrophila and D. p. regalis venoms as well as B. dendrophila and H. n. nasicus salivas. Non-reducing SDS-PAGE revealed 7-20 protein bands (3.5 to over 200 kD, depending on species) for all venoms analyzed, and electrophoretic profiles of venoms were typically quite distinct from saliva profiles. Components from A. stolata, Hydrodynastes gigas, Tantilla nigriceps and T. e. vagrans venoms showed protease activity when run on gelatin zymogram gels. N-terminal protein sequences for three 26 kD venom components of three species (H. gigas, H. torquata, T. biscutatus) and one 3.5 kD component (T. nigriceps) were also obtained, and the 3.5 kD peptide showed apparent sequence homology with human vascular endothelial growth factor; these data represent the first sequences of colubrid venom components. Protease, phosphodiesterase and PLA(2) activities are also common to elapid

  20. Scorpion venom and the inflammatory response.

    PubMed

    Petricevich, Vera L

    2010-01-01

    Scorpion venoms consist of a complex of several toxins that exhibit a wide range of biological properties and actions, as well as chemical compositions, toxicity, and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics. These venoms are associated with high morbility and mortality, especially among children. Victims of envenoming by a scorpion suffer a variety of pathologies, involving mainly both sympathetic and parasympathetic stimulation as well as central manifestations such as irritability, hyperthermia, vomiting, profuse salivation, tremor, and convulsion. The clinical signs and symptoms observed in humans and experimental animals are related with an excessive systemic host inflammatory response to stings and stings, respectively. Although the pathophysiology of envenomation is complex and not yet fully understood, venom and immune responses are known to trigger the release of inflammatory mediators that are largely mediated by cytokines. In models of severe systemic inflammation produced by injection of high doses of venom or venoms products, the increase in production of proinflammatory cytokines significantly contributes to immunological imbalance, multiple organ dysfunction and death. The cytokines initiate a cascade of events that lead to illness behaviors such as fever, anorexia, and also physiological events in the host such as activation of vasodilatation, hypotension, and increased of vessel permeability. PMID:20300540

  1. Scorpion Venom and the Inflammatory Response

    PubMed Central

    Petricevich, Vera L.

    2010-01-01

    Scorpion venoms consist of a complex of several toxins that exhibit a wide range of biological properties and actions, as well as chemical compositions, toxicity, and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics. These venoms are associated with high morbility and mortality, especially among children. Victims of envenoming by a scorpion suffer a variety of pathologies, involving mainly both sympathetic and parasympathetic stimulation as well as central manifestations such as irritability, hyperthermia, vomiting, profuse salivation, tremor, and convulsion. The clinical signs and symptoms observed in humans and experimental animals are related with an excessive systemic host inflammatory response to stings and stings, respectively. Although the pathophysiology of envenomation is complex and not yet fully understood, venom and immune responses are known to trigger the release of inflammatory mediators that are largely mediated by cytokines. In models of severe systemic inflammation produced by injection of high doses of venom or venoms products, the increase in production of proinflammatory cytokines significantly contributes to immunological imbalance, multiple organ dysfunction and death. The cytokines initiate a cascade of events that lead to illness behaviors such as fever, anorexia, and also physiological events in the host such as activation of vasodilatation, hypotension, and increased of vessel permeability. PMID:20300540

  2. Ohanin, a novel protein from king cobra venom, induces hypolocomotion and hyperalgesia in mice.

    PubMed

    Pung, Yuh Fen; Wong, Peter T H; Kumar, Prakash P; Hodgson, Wayne C; Kini, R Manjunatha

    2005-04-01

    We have identified, purified, and determined the complete amino acid sequence of a novel protein, ohanin from Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) venom. It is a small protein containing 107 amino acid residues with a molecular mass of 11951.47 +/- 0.67 Da as assessed by electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. It does not show similarity to any known families of snake venom proteins and hence is the first member of a new family of snake venom proteins. It shows similarity to PRY and SPRY domain proteins. It is nontoxic up to 10 mg/kg when injected intraperitoneally in mice. Ohanin produced statistically significant and dose-dependent hypolocomotion in mice. In a pain threshold assay, it showed dose-dependent hyperalgesic effect. The ability of the protein to elicit a response at greatly reduced doses when injected intracerebroventricularly as compared with intraperitoneal administration in both the locomotion and hot plate experiments strongly suggests that ohanin acts on the central nervous system. Since the natural abundance of the protein in the venom is low (approximately 1 mg/g), a synthetic gene was constructed and expressed. The recombinant protein, which was obtained in the insoluble fraction in Escherichia coli, was purified under denaturing condition and was refolded. Recombinant ohanin is structurally and functionally similar to native protein as determined by circular dichroism and hot plate assay, suggesting that it will be useful in future structure-function relationship studies. PMID:15668253

  3. Thalassophryne nattereri fish venom: from the envenoming to the understanding of the immune system.

    PubMed

    Lopes-Ferreira, Monica; Grund, Lidiane Zito; Lima, Carla

    2014-01-01

    Thalassophryne nattereri (niquim) is a venomous fish found off North and Northeast coast of Brazil, where it is known by the severity of the accidents involving humans. This review article is divided into four topics. The first one provides a brief description of the animal biology and its distribution off Brazilian coastal waters, the venom apparatus, signs and symptoms observed in envenomated humans and also describes envenomation in mice. The second topic describes the use of modern genetic approach and mass spectrometry for identification of highly expressed genes in its venom glands and the sequence of major toxins. The third chapter offers a detailed study of tissue injury induced by the venom and reveals the role of toxins that impair inflammation reduction. Finally, the fourth section expands the understanding of many extrinsic and intrinsic essential factors in maintaining survival of memory B cell compartment. Our results demonstrate the wide possibilities for research in the area of toxinology, also the necessity of interconnection among biochemistry, pharmacology and immunology areas for the expansion of knowledge and for generation of innovation. PMID:25140174

  4. Thalassophryne nattereri fish venom: from the envenoming to the understanding of the immune system

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Thalassophryne nattereri (niquim) is a venomous fish found off North and Northeast coast of Brazil, where it is known by the severity of the accidents involving humans. This review article is divided into four topics. The first one provides a brief description of the animal biology and its distribution off Brazilian coastal waters, the venom apparatus, signs and symptoms observed in envenomated humans and also describes envenomation in mice. The second topic describes the use of modern genetic approach and mass spectrometry for identification of highly expressed genes in its venom glands and the sequence of major toxins. The third chapter offers a detailed study of tissue injury induced by the venom and reveals the role of toxins that impair inflammation reduction. Finally, the fourth section expands the understanding of many extrinsic and intrinsic essential factors in maintaining survival of memory B cell compartment. Our results demonstrate the wide possibilities for research in the area of toxinology, also the necessity of interconnection among biochemistry, pharmacology and immunology areas for the expansion of knowledge and for generation of innovation. PMID:25140174

  5. In vitro anticancer effect of venom from Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus against a panel of human cancer cell lines.

    PubMed

    Díaz-García, Alexis; Morier-Díaz, Luis; Frión-Herrera, Yahima; Rodríguez-Sánchez, Hermis; Caballero-Lorenzo, Yamira; Mendoza-Llanes, Dianeya; Riquenes-Garlobo, Yanelis; Fraga-Castro, José A

    2013-01-01

    In Cuba the endemic species of scorpion Rhopalurus junceus has been used in traditional medicine for cancer treatment. However, there is little scientific evidence about its potential in cancer therapy. The effect of a range of scorpion venom concentrations (0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1mg/ml) against a panel of human tumor cell lines from epithelial (Hela, SiHa, Hep-2, NCI-H292, A549, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, HT-29), hematopoietic origins (U937, K562, Raji) and normal cells (MRC-5, MDCK, Vero) was determined by the MTT assay. Additionally, the effect of venom on tumor cell death was assayed by Fluorescence microscopy, RT-PCR and western blot. Only the epithelial cancer cells showed significant cell viability reduction, with medium cytotoxic concentration (IC50) ranging from 0.6-1mg/ml, in a concentration-dependent manner. There was no effect on either normal or hematopoietic tumor cells. Scorpion venom demonstrated to induce apoptosis in less sensitive tumor cells (Hela) as evidenced by chromatin condensation, over expression of p53 and bax mRNA, down expression of bcl-2 mRNA and increase of activated caspases 3, 8, 9. In most sensitive tumor cells (A549), scorpion venom induced necrosis evidenced by acridine orange/ethidium bromide fluorescent dyes and down-expression of apoptosis-related genes. We concluded the scorpion venom from R. junceus possessed a selective and differential toxicity against epithelial cancer cells. This is the first report related to biological effect of R. junceus venom against a panel of tumor cells lines. All these results make R. junceus venom as a promise natural product for cancer treatment. PMID:23946884

  6. In vitro anticancer effect of venom from Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus against a panel of human cancer cell lines

    PubMed Central

    Díaz-García, Alexis; Morier-Díaz, Luis; Frión-Herrera, Yahima; Rodríguez-Sánchez, Hermis; Caballero-Lorenzo, Yamira; Mendoza-Llanes, Dianeya; Riquenes-Garlobo, Yanelis; Fraga-Castro, José A

    2013-01-01

    In Cuba the endemic species of scorpion Rhopalurus junceus has been used in traditional medicine for cancer treatment. However, there is little scientific evidence about its potential in cancer therapy. The effect of a range of scorpion venom concentrations (0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 and 1mg/ml) against a panel of human tumor cell lines from epithelial (Hela, SiHa, Hep-2, NCI-H292, A549, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, HT-29), hematopoietic origins (U937, K562, Raji) and normal cells (MRC-5, MDCK, Vero) was determined by the MTT assay. Additionally, the effect of venom on tumor cell death was assayed by Fluorescence microscopy, RT-PCR and western blot. Only the epithelial cancer cells showed significant cell viability reduction, with medium cytotoxic concentration (IC50) ranging from 0.6-1mg/ml, in a concentration-dependent manner. There was no effect on either normal or hematopoietic tumor cells. Scorpion venom demonstrated to induce apoptosis in less sensitive tumor cells (Hela) as evidenced by chromatin condensation, over expression of p53 and bax mRNA, down expression of bcl-2 mRNA and increase of activated caspases 3, 8, 9. In most sensitive tumor cells (A549), scorpion venom induced necrosis evidenced by acridine orange/ethidium bromide fluorescent dyes and down-expression of apoptosis-related genes. We concluded the scorpion venom from R. junceus possessed a selective and differential toxicity against epithelial cancer cells. This is the first report related to biological effect of R. junceus venom against a panel of tumor cells lines. All these results make R. junceus venom as a promise natural product for cancer treatment. PMID:23946884

  7. Baseline Inventory of amphibians and reptiles of Kurupukari, Guyana

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    MacCulloch, Ross D.; Reynolds, Robert P.

    2013-01-01

    The habitat in the vicinity of Kurupukari, on the Essequibo River in central Guyana, is tall evergreen lowland forest. The area has suffered some human disturbance from agriculture, road construction and ferry activity. The area was sampled for 10 days in 1990 and 12 days in 1997; seven days in rainy season and 15 in dry season. During this sampling 23 anuran and 17 reptile species were collected. Some differences exist between species collected on either side of the river. Comparisons are made with collections from other locations in Guyana.

  8. Mast Cells Can Enhance Resistance to Snake and Honeybee Venoms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Metz, Martin; Piliponsky, Adrian M.; Chen, Ching-Cheng; Lammel, Verena; Åbrink, Magnus; Pejler, Gunnar; Tsai, Mindy; Galli, Stephen J.

    2006-07-01

    Snake or honeybee envenomation can cause substantial morbidity and mortality, and it has been proposed that the activation of mast cells by snake or insect venoms can contribute to these effects. We show, in contrast, that mast cells can significantly reduce snake-venom-induced pathology in mice, at least in part by releasing carboxypeptidase A and possibly other proteases, which can degrade venom components. Mast cells also significantly reduced the morbidity and mortality induced by honeybee venom. These findings identify a new biological function for mast cells in enhancing resistance to the morbidity and mortality induced by animal venoms.

  9. Anti-venom-induced myelopathy in a semipoisonous snakebite.

    PubMed

    Biswas, R; Irodi, A; Paul, A; Ghimere, G; Joshi, K R; Alurkar, V M; Shetty, K J

    2004-06-01

    A 40-year-old woman developed myelopathy manifesting as Brown Sequard syndrome after administration of Anti-venom (polyvalent enzyme-refined equine globulin supposed to neutralise 0.6 mg of standard cobra venom, 0.45 mg of standard krait venom, 0.6 mg of standard Russel's viper venom and 0.45 mg of saw scaled viper venom, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, Pune, India). It was concluded to be an immunological inflammation of the spinal cord after ruling out hematomyelia on imaging. The necessity of antivenom in semipoisonous snake bites have been addressed further in the article. PMID:15311570

  10. Combined snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic analysis of the ocellated carpet viper, Echis ocellatus.

    PubMed

    Wagstaff, Simon C; Sanz, Libia; Juárez, Paula; Harrison, Robert A; Calvete, Juan J

    2009-01-30

    Snakebite in Africa causes thousands of deaths annually and considerable permanent physical disability. The saw-scaled viper, Echis ocellatus, represents the single most medically important snake species in West Africa. To provide a detailed compositional analysis of the venom of E. ocellatus for designing novel toxin-specific immunotherapy and to delineate sequence structure-function relationships of individual toxins, we characterised the venom proteome and the venom gland transcriptome. Whole E. ocellatus venom was fractionated by reverse-phase HPLC, followed by analysis of each chromatographic fraction using a combination of SDS-PAGE, N-terminal sequencing, MALDI-TOF mass fingerprinting, and CID-MS/MS of tryptic peptides. This analysis identified around 35 distinct proteins of molecular masses in the range of 5.5-110 kDa belonging to 8 different toxin families (disintegrin, DC-fragment, phospholipase A(2), cysteine-rich secretory protein, serine proteinase, C-type lectin, l-amino acid oxidase, and Zn(2+)-dependent metalloprotease). Comparison of the toxin composition of E. ocellatus venom determined using a proteomic approach, with the predicted proteome derived from assembly of 1000 EST sequences from a E. ocellatus venom gland cDNA library, shows some differences. Most notably, peptides derived from 26% of the venom proteins could not be ascribed an exact match in the transcriptome. Similarly, 64 (67%) out of the 95 putative toxin clusters reported in the transcriptome did not match to peptides detected in the venom proteome. These data suggest that the final composition of venom is influenced by transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms that may be more complex than previously appreciated. This, in turn, emphasises the value of combining proteomic and transcriptomic approaches to acquire a more complete understanding of the precise composition of snake venom, than would be gleaned from using one analysis alone. From a clinical perspective, the large

  11. Full-Length Venom Protein cDNA Sequences from Venom-Derived mRNA: Exploring Compositional Variation and Adaptive Multigene Evolution.

    PubMed

    Modahl, Cassandra M; Mackessy, Stephen P

    2016-06-01

    Envenomation of humans by snakes is a complex and continuously evolving medical emergency, and treatment is made that much more difficult by the diverse biochemical composition of many venoms. Venomous snakes and their venoms also provide models for the study of molecular evolutionary processes leading to adaptation and genotype-phenotype relationships. To compare venom complexity and protein sequences, venom gland transcriptomes are assembled, which usually requires the sacrifice of snakes for tissue. However, toxin transcripts are also present in venoms, offering the possibility of obtaining cDNA sequences directly from venom. This study provides evidence that unknown full-length venom protein transcripts can be obtained from the venoms of multiple species from all major venomous snake families. These unknown venom protein cDNAs are obtained by the use of primers designed from conserved signal peptide sequences within each venom protein superfamily. This technique was used to assemble a partial venom gland transcriptome for the Middle American Rattlesnake (Crotalus simus tzabcan) by amplifying sequences for phospholipases A2, serine proteases, C-lectins, and metalloproteinases from within venom. Phospholipase A2 sequences were also recovered from the venoms of several rattlesnakes and an elapid snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus), and three-finger toxin sequences were recovered from multiple rear-fanged snake species, demonstrating that the three major clades of advanced snakes (Elapidae, Viperidae, Colubridae) have stable mRNA present in their venoms. These cDNA sequences from venom were then used to explore potential activities derived from protein sequence similarities and evolutionary histories within these large multigene superfamilies. Venom-derived sequences can also be used to aid in characterizing venoms that lack proteomic profiles and identify sequence characteristics indicating specific envenomation profiles. This approach, requiring only venom, provides

  12. Full-Length Venom Protein cDNA Sequences from Venom-Derived mRNA: Exploring Compositional Variation and Adaptive Multigene Evolution

    PubMed Central

    Modahl, Cassandra M.; Mackessy, Stephen P.

    2016-01-01

    Envenomation of humans by snakes is a complex and continuously evolving medical emergency, and treatment is made that much more difficult by the diverse biochemical composition of many venoms. Venomous snakes and their venoms also provide models for the study of molecular evolutionary processes leading to adaptation and genotype-phenotype relationships. To compare venom complexity and protein sequences, venom gland transcriptomes are assembled, which usually requires the sacrifice of snakes for tissue. However, toxin transcripts are also present in venoms, offering the possibility of obtaining cDNA sequences directly from venom. This study provides evidence that unknown full-length venom protein transcripts can be obtained from the venoms of multiple species from all major venomous snake families. These unknown venom protein cDNAs are obtained by the use of primers designed from conserved signal peptide sequences within each venom protein superfamily. This technique was used to assemble a partial venom gland transcriptome for the Middle American Rattlesnake (Crotalus simus tzabcan) by amplifying sequences for phospholipases A2, serine proteases, C-lectins, and metalloproteinases from within venom. Phospholipase A2 sequences were also recovered from the venoms of several rattlesnakes and an elapid snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus), and three-finger toxin sequences were recovered from multiple rear-fanged snake species, demonstrating that the three major clades of advanced snakes (Elapidae, Viperidae, Colubridae) have stable mRNA present in their venoms. These cDNA sequences from venom were then used to explore potential activities derived from protein sequence similarities and evolutionary histories within these large multigene superfamilies. Venom-derived sequences can also be used to aid in characterizing venoms that lack proteomic profiles and identify sequence characteristics indicating specific envenomation profiles. This approach, requiring only venom, provides

  13. Diversification rates and phenotypic evolution in venomous snakes (Elapidae).

    PubMed

    Lee, Michael S Y; Sanders, Kate L; King, Benedict; Palci, Alessandro

    2016-01-01

    The relationship between rates of diversification and of body size change (a common proxy for phenotypic evolution) was investigated across Elapidae, the largest radiation of highly venomous snakes. Time-calibrated phylogenetic trees for 175 species of elapids (more than 50% of known taxa) were constructed using seven mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Analyses using these trees revealed no evidence for a link between speciation rates and changes in body size. Two clades (Hydrophis, Micrurus) show anomalously high rates of diversification within Elapidae, yet exhibit rates of body size evolution almost identical to the general elapid 'background' rate. Although correlations between speciation rates and rates of body size change exist in certain groups (e.g. ray-finned fishes, passerine birds), the two processes appear to be uncoupled in elapid snakes. There is also no detectable shift in diversification dynamics associated with the colonization of Australasia, which is surprising given that elapids appear to be the first clade of venomous snakes to reach the continent. PMID:26909162

  14. Diversification rates and phenotypic evolution in venomous snakes (Elapidae)

    PubMed Central

    Lee, Michael S. Y.; Sanders, Kate L.; King, Benedict; Palci, Alessandro

    2016-01-01

    The relationship between rates of diversification and of body size change (a common proxy for phenotypic evolution) was investigated across Elapidae, the largest radiation of highly venomous snakes. Time-calibrated phylogenetic trees for 175 species of elapids (more than 50% of known taxa) were constructed using seven mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Analyses using these trees revealed no evidence for a link between speciation rates and changes in body size. Two clades (Hydrophis, Micrurus) show anomalously high rates of diversification within Elapidae, yet exhibit rates of body size evolution almost identical to the general elapid ‘background’ rate. Although correlations between speciation rates and rates of body size change exist in certain groups (e.g. ray-finned fishes, passerine birds), the two processes appear to be uncoupled in elapid snakes. There is also no detectable shift in diversification dynamics associated with the colonization of Australasia, which is surprising given that elapids appear to be the first clade of venomous snakes to reach the continent. PMID:26909162

  15. Fibrin(ogen)olytic activity of bumblebee venom serine protease

    SciTech Connect

    Qiu Yuling; Choo, Young Moo; Yoon, Hyung Joo; Jia Jingming; Cui Zheng; Wang Dong; Kim, Doh Hoon; Sohn, Hung Dae; Jin, Byung Rae

    2011-09-01

    Bee venom is a rich source of pharmacologically active components; it has been used as an immunotherapy to treat bee venom hypersensitivity, and venom therapy has been applied as an alternative medicine. Here, we present evidence that the serine protease found in bumblebee venom exhibits fibrin(ogen)olytic activity. Compared to honeybee venom, bumblebee venom contains a higher content of serine protease, which is one of its major components. Venom serine proteases from bumblebees did not cross-react with antibodies against the honeybee venom serine protease. We provide functional evidence indicating that bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) venom serine protease (Bt-VSP) acts as a fibrin(ogen)olytic enzyme. Bt-VSP activates prothrombin and directly degrades fibrinogen into fibrin degradation products. However, Bt-VSP is not a plasminogen activator, and its fibrinolytic activity is less than that of plasmin. Taken together, our results define roles for Bt-VSP as a prothrombin activator, a thrombin-like protease, and a plasmin-like protease. These findings offer significant insight into the allergic reaction sequence that is initiated by bee venom serine protease and its potential usefulness as a clinical agent in the field of hemostasis and thrombosis. - Graphical abstract: Display Omitted Highlights: > Bumblebee venom serine protease (Bt-VSP) is a fibrin(ogen)olytic enzyme. > Bt-VSP activates prothrombin. > Bt-VSP directly degrades fibrinogen into fibrin degradation products. > Bt-VSP is a hemostatically active protein that is a potent clinical agent.

  16. Centipede Venoms and Their Components: Resources for Potential Therapeutic Applications

    PubMed Central

    Hakim, Md Abdul; Yang, Shilong; Lai, Ren

    2015-01-01

    Venomous animals have evolved with sophisticated bio-chemical strategies to arrest prey and defend themselves from natural predators. In recent years, peptide toxins from venomous animals have drawn considerable attention from researchers due to their surprising chemical, biochemical, and pharmacological diversity. Similar to other venomous animals, centipedes are one of the crucial venomous arthropods that have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years in China. Despite signifying pharmacological importance, very little is known about the active components of centipede venoms. More than 500 peptide sequences have been reported in centipede venomous glands by transcriptome analysis, but only a small number of peptide toxins from centipede has been functionally described. Like other venomous animals such as snakes, scorpions, and spiders, the venom of centipedes could be an excellent source of peptides for developing drugs for treatments as well as bio-insecticides for agrochemical applications. Although centipede venoms are yet to be adequately studied, the venom of centipedes as well as their components described to date, should be compiled to help further research. Therefore, based on previous reports, this review focusses on findings and possible therapeutic applications of centipede venoms as well as their components. PMID:26593947

  17. Centipede venoms and their components: resources for potential therapeutic applications.

    PubMed

    Hakim, Md Abdul; Yang, Shilong; Lai, Ren

    2015-11-01

    Venomous animals have evolved with sophisticated bio-chemical strategies to arrest prey and defend themselves from natural predators. In recent years, peptide toxins from venomous animals have drawn considerable attention from researchers due to their surprising chemical, biochemical, and pharmacological diversity. Similar to other venomous animals, centipedes are one of the crucial venomous arthropods that have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years in China. Despite signifying pharmacological importance, very little is known about the active components of centipede venoms. More than 500 peptide sequences have been reported in centipede venomous glands by transcriptome analysis, but only a small number of peptide toxins from centipede has been functionally described. Like other venomous animals such as snakes, scorpions, and spiders, the venom of centipedes could be an excellent source of peptides for developing drugs for treatments as well as bio-insecticides for agrochemical applications. Although centipede venoms are yet to be adequately studied, the venom of centipedes as well as their components described to date, should be compiled to help further research. Therefore, based on previous reports, this review focusses on findings and possible therapeutic applications of centipede venoms as well as their components. PMID:26593947

  18. Inhibition of Naja kaouthia venom activities by plant polyphenols.

    PubMed

    Pithayanukul, Pimolpan; Ruenraroengsak, Pakatip; Bavovada, Rapepol; Pakmanee, Narumol; Suttisri, Rutt; Saen-oon, Suwipa

    2005-03-21

    Plant polyphenols from the aqueous extracts of Pentace burmanica, Pithecellobium dulce, Areca catechu and Quercus infectoria were tested for their inhibitory activities against Naja kaouthia (NK) venom by in vitro neutralization method. The first three extracts could completely inhibit the lethality of the venom at 4 LD50 concentration and the venom necrotizing activity at the minimum necrotizing dose while also inhibited up to 90% of the acetylcholinesterase activity of NK venom at much lower tannin concentrations than that of Quercus infectoria. The ED50 of plant tannins in inhibiting NK venom activities varied according to condensed tannins and their content in the extracts. Molecular docking of the complexes between alpha-cobratoxin and either hydrolysable or condensed tannins at their lowest energetic conformations were proposed. The anti-venom activities of these plant polyphenols by selectively blocking the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and non-selectively by precipitation of the venom proteins were suggested. PMID:15740891

  19. Tracing monotreme venom evolution in the genomics era.

    PubMed

    Whittington, Camilla M; Belov, Katherine

    2014-04-01

    The monotremes (platypuses and echidnas) represent one of only four extant venomous mammalian lineages. Until recently, monotreme venom was poorly understood. However, the availability of the platypus genome and increasingly sophisticated genomic tools has allowed us to characterize platypus toxins, and provides a means of reconstructing the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. Here we review the physiology of platypus and echidna crural (venom) systems as well as pharmacological and genomic studies of monotreme toxins. Further, we synthesize current ideas about the evolution of the venom system, which in the platypus is likely to have been retained from a venomous ancestor, whilst being lost in the echidnas. We also outline several research directions and outstanding questions that would be productive to address in future research. An improved characterization of mammalian venoms will not only yield new toxins with potential therapeutic uses, but will also aid in our understanding of the way that this unusual trait evolves. PMID:24699339

  20. Angiotensin processing activities in the venom of Thalassophryne nattereri.

    PubMed

    Tenório, Humberto de Araújo; Marques, Maria Elizabeth da Costa; Machado, Sonia Salgueiro; Pereira, Hugo Juarez Vieira

    2015-05-01

    The venom of marine animals is a rich source of compounds with remarkable functional specificity and diversity. Thalassophryne nattereri is a small venomous fish inhabiting the northern and northeastern coast of Brazil, and represents a relatively frequent cause of injuries. Its venom causes severe inflammatory response followed frequently by the necrosis of the affected area. This venom presents characterized components such as proteases (Natterins 1-4) and a lectin (Nattectin) with complex effects on the human organism. A specific inhibitor of tissue kallikrein (TKI) reduces the nociception and the edema caused by the venom in mice. Our study sought to investigate the proteolytic activities against vasopeptides Angiotensin I, Angiotensin II, Angiotensin 1-9 and Bradykinin. The venom indicated angiotensin conversion against angiotensin I, as well as kininase against bradykinin. Captopril conducted the total inhibition of the converting activity, featuring the first report of ACE activity in fish venoms. PMID:25702959

  1. Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era

    PubMed Central

    Whittington, Camilla M.; Belov, Katherine

    2014-01-01

    The monotremes (platypuses and echidnas) represent one of only four extant venomous mammalian lineages. Until recently, monotreme venom was poorly understood. However, the availability of the platypus genome and increasingly sophisticated genomic tools has allowed us to characterize platypus toxins, and provides a means of reconstructing the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. Here we review the physiology of platypus and echidna crural (venom) systems as well as pharmacological and genomic studies of monotreme toxins. Further, we synthesize current ideas about the evolution of the venom system, which in the platypus is likely to have been retained from a venomous ancestor, whilst being lost in the echidnas. We also outline several research directions and outstanding questions that would be productive to address in future research. An improved characterization of mammalian venoms will not only yield new toxins with potential therapeutic uses, but will also aid in our understanding of the way that this unusual trait evolves. PMID:24699339

  2. Insect venom allergy: diagnosis and treatment.

    PubMed

    Valentine, M D

    1984-03-01

    Allergy to insect venom is IgE mediated. Untreated, it occasionally terminates fatally and often causes temporary illness. Medical intervention with venom immunotherapy in patients with prior systemic reactions presents reactions to stings by inducing IgG-antibody formation, although in some groups of patients this results in little real benefit. Emergency self-treatment kits (Epi-Pen and Epi-Pen Jr., Center Laboratories, Port Washington, N.Y.; Ana Kit, Hollister-Stier, Spokane, Wash.), if promptly and intelligently used, may reverse most moderate sting reactions. Some severe reactions require aggressive therapy. Until better treatment criteria are available, the most certain way of reducing the risk of systemic reactions to stings is with venom immunotherapy. PMID:6366028

  3. Distribution pattern of reptiles along an eastern Himalayan elevation gradient, India

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chettri, Basundhara; Bhupathy, Subramanian; Acharya, Bhoj Kumar

    2010-01-01

    We examined the spatial distribution pattern of reptiles in an eastern Himalayan elevation gradient. The factors governing the distribution have been assessed with emphasis on the mid-domain effect. We surveyed reptiles along the elevation gradient (300-4800 m) of the Teesta valley in Sikkim, Eastern Himalaya, India using time constrained visual encounter survey. A total of 42 species of reptiles were observed during the study, and the species richness peaked at 500-1000 m with no species beyond 3000 m. The observed pattern was consistent with estimated richness, both showing significant negative relation with elevation. Lizards showed a linear decline with elevation, whereas snakes followed a non-linear relation with peak at 500-1000 m. Observed species richness deviated significantly from that predicted by a mid-domain null model. The regression between empirical and simulated richness was not significant for total reptiles as well as lizards and snakes separately. Most species distributed in the high elevation extended towards lower elevation, but low elevation species (around 50%) were restricted below 1000 m. Deviation of empirical from predicted richness indicates that the distributions of reptile species were least governed by geographic hard boundaries. Climatic factors especially temperature explained much variation of reptiles along the Himalayan elevation gradient. Most reptiles were narrowly distributed, especially those found in low elevation indicating the importance of tropical low-land forests in the conservation of reptiles in Eastern Himalayas.

  4. 50 CFR 16.15 - Importation of live reptiles or their eggs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2013 CFR

    2013-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 1 2013-10-01 2013-10-01 false Importation of live reptiles or their eggs... live reptiles or their eggs. (a) The importation, transportation, or acquisition of any live specimen, gamete, viable egg, or hybrid of the species listed in this paragraph is prohibited except as...

  5. 50 CFR 16.15 - Importation of live reptiles or their eggs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2012 CFR

    2012-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 1 2012-10-01 2012-10-01 false Importation of live reptiles or their eggs... live reptiles or their eggs. (a) The importation, transportation, or acquisition of any live specimen, gamete, viable egg, or hybrid of the species listed in this paragraph is prohibited except as...

  6. 50 CFR 16.15 - Importation of live reptiles or their eggs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 1 2010-10-01 2010-10-01 false Importation of live reptiles or their eggs... live reptiles or their eggs. (a) The importation, transportation, or acquisition is prohibited of any live specimen or egg of the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis): Provided, that the Director...

  7. 50 CFR 16.15 - Importation of live reptiles or their eggs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 1 2011-10-01 2011-10-01 false Importation of live reptiles or their eggs... live reptiles or their eggs. (a) The importation, transportation, or acquisition is prohibited of any live specimen or egg of the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis): Provided, that the Director...

  8. 50 CFR 16.15 - Importation of live reptiles or their eggs.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2014 CFR

    2014-10-01

    ... 50 Wildlife and Fisheries 1 2014-10-01 2014-10-01 false Importation of live reptiles or their eggs... live reptiles or their eggs. (a) The importation, transportation, or acquisition of any live specimen, gamete, viable egg, or hybrid of the species listed in this paragraph is prohibited except as...

  9. What's Slithering around on Your School Grounds? Transforming Student Awareness of Reptile & Amphibian Diversity

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Tomasek, Terry M.; Matthews, Catherine E.; Hall, Jeff

    2005-01-01

    The protocols used in a research project on amphibian and reptile diversity at Cool Springs Environmental Education Center near New Bern, North Carolina is described. An increasing or stable number of amphibians and reptiles would indicate that the forest has a balance of invertebrates, leaf litter, moisture, pH, debris, burrows and habitat…

  10. Venomous snakebites in southern Croatia.

    PubMed

    Luksić, Boris; Bradarić, Nikola; Prgomet, Sandra

    2006-03-01

    This retrospective study is based on the analysis of 542 snakebite envenomation cases in southern Croatia, which were treated in the University Hospital Split over the period of 21 years. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of venomous snakebite in southern Croatia, epidemiological and clinical features of snakebite and treatment in the region. The mean annual snakebite incidence in southern Croatia was 5.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. The nose- horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) was responsible for most bites, only a small proportion being inflicted by the adder (Vipera berus). People of all ages were affected (1 - 82 year old), but the bites were more frequent in individuals older than 50 (46% of the cases) and in children and adolescents 19 year old and younger (27% of the cases). Most snakebite accidents happened in warm spring and summer months, the highest number occurring in May (22%). A majority of the victims were rural people engaged in agricultural activities. Bites on the upper limbs were more frequent (57%) than bites on the lower limbs (42%). With regard to envenomation severity, there were 15.1% minor, 40.5% mild, 26% moderate and 18% severe cases. Two victims died (0.4%). The antivenom produced by the Institute of Immunology in Zagreb was given to virtually all patients, and complications following its administration were rare. The antivenom was used more often than it was suggested by the symptoms present. PMID:16617597

  11. Beta-cardiotoxin: a new three-finger toxin from Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) venom with beta-blocker activity.

    PubMed

    Rajagopalan, Nandhakishore; Pung, Yuh Fen; Zhu, Yi Zhun; Wong, Peter Tsun Hon; Kumar, Prakash P; Kini, R Manjunatha

    2007-11-01

    Snake venoms have provided a number of novel ligands with therapeutic potential. We have constructed a partial cDNA library from the mRNA of Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) venom gland tissue and identified five new genes encoding proteins belonging to the three-finger toxin family of snake venom proteins. We have isolated and characterized one of these beta-sheet containing proteins with a mass of 7012.43 +/- 0.91 Da from the venom. The protein was nonlethal up to a dose of 10 mg/kg when injected intraperitoneally into Swiss albino mice. However, it induces labored breathing and death at a dose of 100 mg/kg. It does not show any hemolytic or anticoagulant activity. It caused a dose-dependent decrease of heart rate in vivo (anesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats) and also ex vivo (Langendorff isolated rat heart). This is in contrast to classical cardiotoxins from snake venom that increase the heart rate in animals. Radioligand displacement studies showed that this protein targets beta-adrenergic receptors with a binding affinity (Ki) of 5.3 and 2.3 microM toward beta1 and beta2 subtypes, respectively, to bring about its effect, and hence, it was named as beta-cardiotoxin. This is the first report of a natural exogenous beta-blocker. PMID:17616557

  12. Autonomic control of cardiorespiratory interactions in fish, amphibians and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Taylor, E W; Leite, C A C; Skovgaard, N

    2010-07-01

    Control of the heart rate and cardiorespiratory interactions (CRI) is predominantly parasympathetic in all jawed vertebrates, with the sympathetic nervous system having some influence in tetrapods. Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) has been described as a solely mammalian phenomenon but respiration-related beat-to-beat control of the heart has been described in fish and reptiles. Though they are both important, the relative roles of feed-forward central control and peripheral reflexes in generating CRI vary between groups of fishes and probably between other vertebrates. CRI may relate to two locations for the vagal preganglionic neurons (VPN) and in particular cardiac VPN in the brainstem. This has been described in representatives from all vertebrate groups, though the proportion in each location is variable. Air-breathing fishes, amphibians and reptiles breathe discontinuously and the onset of a bout of breathing is characteristically accompanied by an immediate increase in heart rate plus, in the latter two groups, a left-right shunting of blood through the pulmonary circuit. Both the increase in heart rate and opening of a sphincter on the pulmonary artery are due to withdrawal of vagal tone. An increase in heart rate following a meal in snakes is related to withdrawal of vagal tone plus a non-adrenergic-non-cholinergic effect that may be due to humoral factors released by the gut. Histamine is one candidate for this role. PMID:20464342

  13. Triassic marine reptiles gave birth to live young.

    PubMed

    Cheng, Yen-Nien; Wu, Xiao-Chun; Ji, Qiang

    2004-11-18

    Sauropterygians form the largest and most diverse group of ancient marine reptiles that lived throughout nearly the entire Mesozoic era (from 250 to 65 million years ago). Although thousands of specimens of this group have been collected around the world since the description of the first plesiosaur in 1821 (ref. 3), no direct evidence has been found to determine whether any sauropterygians came on shore to lay eggs (oviparity) like sea turtles, or gave birth in the water to live young (viviparity) as ichthyosaurs and mosasauroids (marine lizards) did. Viviparity has been proposed for plesiosaur, pachypleurosaur and nothosaur sauropterygians, but until now no concrete evidence has been advanced. Here we report two gravid specimens of Keichousaurus hui Young from the Middle Triassic of China. These exquisitely preserved specimens not only provide the first unequivocal evidence of reproductive mode and sexual dimorphism in sauropterygians, but also indicate that viviparity could have been expedited by the evolution of a movable pelvis in pachypleurosaurs. By extension, this has implications for the reproductive pattern of other sauropterygians and Mesozoic marine reptiles that possessed a movable pelvis. PMID:15549103

  14. The oldest parareptile and the early diversification of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Modesto, Sean P; Scott, Diane M; MacDougall, Mark J; Sues, Hans-Dieter; Evans, David C; Reisz, Robert R

    2015-02-22

    Amniotes, tetrapods that evolved the cleidoic egg and thus independence from aquatic larval stages, appeared ca 314 Ma during the Coal Age. The rapid diversification of amniotes and other tetrapods over the course of the Late Carboniferous period was recently attributed to the fragmentation of coal-swamp rainforests ca 307 Ma. However, the amniote fossil record during the Carboniferous is relatively sparse, with ca 33% of the diversity represented by single specimens for each species. We describe here a new species of reptilian amniote that was collected from uppermost Carboniferous rocks of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Erpetonyx arsenaultorum gen. et sp. nov. is a new parareptile distinguished by 29 presacral vertebrae and autapomorphies of the carpus. Phylogenetic analyses of parareptiles reveal E. arsenaultorum as the closest relative of bolosaurids. Stratigraphic calibration of our results indicates that parareptiles began their evolutionary radiation before the close of the Carboniferous Period, and that the diversity of end-Carboniferous reptiles is 80% greater than suggested by previous work. Latest Carboniferous reptiles were still half as diverse as synapsid amniotes, a disparity that may be attributable to preservational biases, to collecting biases, to the origin of herbivory in tetrapods or any combination of these factors. PMID:25589601

  15. Prostaglandins are important in thermoregulation of a reptile (Pogona vitticeps).

    PubMed Central

    Seebacher, Frank; Franklin, Craig E

    2003-01-01

    The effectiveness of behavioural thermoregulation in reptiles is amplified by cardiovascular responses, particularly by differential rates of heart beat in response to heating and cooling (heart-rate hysteresis). Heart-rate hysteresis is ecologically important in most lineages of ectothermic reptile, and we demonstrate that heart-rate hysteresis in the lizard Pogona vitticeps is mediated by prostaglandins. In a control treatment (administration of saline), heart rates during heating were significantly faster than during cooling at any given body temperature. When cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 enzymes were inhibited, heart rates during heating were not significantly different from those during cooling. Administration of agonists showed that thromboxane B(2) did not have a significant effect on heart rate, but prostacyclin and prostaglandin F(2alpha) caused a significant increase (3.5 and 13.6 beats min(-1), respectively) in heart rate compared with control treatments. We speculate that heart-rate hysteresis evolved as a thermoregulatory mechanism that may ultimately be controlled by neurally induced stimulation of nitric oxide production, or maybe via photolytically induced production of vitamin D. PMID:12952634

  16. The oldest parareptile and the early diversification of reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Modesto, Sean P.; Scott, Diane M.; MacDougall, Mark J.; Sues, Hans-Dieter; Evans, David C.; Reisz, Robert R.

    2015-01-01

    Amniotes, tetrapods that evolved the cleidoic egg and thus independence from aquatic larval stages, appeared ca 314 Ma during the Coal Age. The rapid diversification of amniotes and other tetrapods over the course of the Late Carboniferous period was recently attributed to the fragmentation of coal-swamp rainforests ca 307 Ma. However, the amniote fossil record during the Carboniferous is relatively sparse, with ca 33% of the diversity represented by single specimens for each species. We describe here a new species of reptilian amniote that was collected from uppermost Carboniferous rocks of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Erpetonyx arsenaultorum gen. et sp. nov. is a new parareptile distinguished by 29 presacral vertebrae and autapomorphies of the carpus. Phylogenetic analyses of parareptiles reveal E. arsenaultorum as the closest relative of bolosaurids. Stratigraphic calibration of our results indicates that parareptiles began their evolutionary radiation before the close of the Carboniferous Period, and that the diversity of end-Carboniferous reptiles is 80% greater than suggested by previous work. Latest Carboniferous reptiles were still half as diverse as synapsid amniotes, a disparity that may be attributable to preservational biases, to collecting biases, to the origin of herbivory in tetrapods or any combination of these factors. PMID:25589601

  17. Tarantula (Eurypelma californicum) venom, a multicomponent system.

    PubMed

    Savel-Niemann, A

    1989-05-01

    The venom of the tarantula Eurypelma californicum was analysed biochemically, the components were isolated and characterized. The pH value of the crude venom is 5.3 +/- 0.3. After dilution with distilled water, UV-absorption spectra showed a single maximum at 258 nm (pH ca. 7.0). A second maximum at 328 nm emerged above pH 8.0. Protein concentration of the venom is ca. 65 mg/ml. After Coomassie staining SDS-PAGE patterns show three major bands with apparent molecular masses around 40 kDa, 4.3 kDa and 1.3 kDa besides some weak high molecular protein bands. The following low-molecular mass constituents were determined in the crude venom: ATP, ADP, AMP, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glucose and the ions potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and chloride; the osmolality was 361 micro0smol/ml. The LD50 value for female cockroaches was 0.15 microliters venom per g body weight and for male cockroaches 0.4 microliters venom per g body weight. Separation of the crude venom by gel chromatography yielded four elution peaks. Peak I contains the enzyme hyaluronidase. The activity is 200-900 U/microliters. Peak II contains a mixture of toxic peptides. Peak III contains the 1.3-kDa components of SDS-PAGE and peak IV mainly contains ATP. Venom proteins including the enzyme hyaluronidase were precipitated by 5% trichloroacetic acid. The supernatant was separated by HPLC into 13 fractions. Fraction 1 contains glutamic acid, aspartic acid, gamma-aminobutyric acid and ATP; fraction 2 contains ATP, ADP and AMP as well as a component 2' visible in SDS-PAGE as 1.3-kDa band and consisting of spermine and tryptophan; fraction 3 contains ATP and an unknown component 3'; fractions 4-6 also show a 1.3-kDa band in SDS-PAGE, fraction 4 being tyrosylspermine and fractions 5 and 6 containing compounds of spermine and aromatic molecules; fraction 7 contains a peptide which lacks aromatic amino acids, it was sequenced from the N-terminus; fractions 8-13 contain very similar

  18. Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of Venoms from Russian Vipers of Pelias Group: Phospholipases A2 are the Main Venom Components

    PubMed Central

    Kovalchuk, Sergey I.; Ziganshin, Rustam H.; Starkov, Vladislav G.; Tsetlin, Victor I.; Utkin, Yuri N.

    2016-01-01

    Venoms of most Russian viper species are poorly characterized. Here, by quantitative chromato-mass-spectrometry, we analyzed protein and peptide compositions of venoms from four Vipera species (V. kaznakovi, V. renardi, V. orlovi and V. nikolskii) inhabiting different regions of Russia. In all these species, the main components were phospholipases A2, their content ranging from 24% in V. orlovi to 65% in V. nikolskii. Altogether, enzyme content in venom of V. nikolskii reached ~85%. Among the non-enzymatic proteins, the most abundant were disintegrins (14%) in the V. renardi venom, C-type lectin like (12.5%) in V. kaznakovi, cysteine-rich venom proteins (12%) in V. orlovi and venom endothelial growth factors (8%) in V. nikolskii. In total, 210 proteins and 512 endogenous peptides were identified in the four viper venoms. They represented 14 snake venom protein families, most of which were found in the venoms of Vipera snakes previously. However, phospholipase B and nucleotide degrading enzymes were reported here for the first time. Compositions of V. kaznakovi and V. orlovi venoms were described for the first time and showed the greatest similarity among the four venoms studied, which probably reflected close relationship between these species within the “kaznakovi” complex. PMID:27077884

  19. A venom metalloproteinase from the parasitic wasp Eulophus pennicornis is toxic towards its host, tomato moth (Lacanobia oleracae).

    PubMed

    Price, D R G; Bell, H A; Hinchliffe, G; Fitches, E; Weaver, R; Gatehouse, J A

    2009-04-01

    Three genes encoding clan MB metalloproteinases (EpMP1-3) were identified from venom glands of the ectoparasitic wasp Eulophus pennicornis. The derived amino acid sequences predict mature proteins of approximately 46 kDa, with a novel two-domain structure comprising a C-terminal reprolysin domain, and an N-terminal domain of unknown function. EpMP3 expressed as a recombinant protein in Pichia pastoris had gelatinase activity, which was inhibited by EDTA. Injection of recombinant EpMP3 into fifth instar Lacanobia oleracea (host) larvae resulted in partial insect mortality associated with the moult to sixth instar, with surviving insects showing retarded development and growth. EpMP3 is expressed specifically in venom glands. These results suggest that EpMP3 is a functional component of Eulophus venom, which is able to manipulate host development. PMID:19320760

  20. Non-venomous snake bite and snake bite without envenoming in a Brazilian teaching hospital. Analysis of 91 cases.

    PubMed

    Silveria, P V; Nishioka, S de A

    1992-01-01

    A retrospective survey of 473 cases of snake bite admitted to a Brazilian teaching hospital from 1984 to 1990 revealed 91 cases of bite without envenoming and/or caused by non-venomous snakes. In 17 of these cases the snake was identified, and one patient was bitten by a snake-like reptile (Amphisbaena mertensii). In 43 cases diagnosis was made on clinical grounds (fang marks in the absence of signs of envenoming). The other 30 cases were of patients who complained of being bitten but who did not show any sign of envenoming or fang mark. Most cases occurred in men (66;73%), in the 10-19 years age group (26;29%), in the lower limbs (51/74;69%), between 6 A. M. and 2 P.M. (49;61%) and in the month of April (16;18%). One patient bitten by Philodryas olfersii developed severe local pain, swelling and redness at the site of the bite, with normal clotting time. The patient bitten by Drymarcon corais was misdiagnosed as being bitten by a snake of the genus Bothrops, was given the specific antivenom, and developed anaphylaxis. One patient bitten by Sibynomorphus mikanii presented prolonged clotting time, and was also given antivenom as a case of Bothrops bite. Correct identification of venomous snakes by physicians is necessary to provide correct treatment to victims of snake bite, avoiding unnecessary distress to the patient, and overprescription of antivenom, which may eventually cause severe untoward effects. PMID:1342117

  1. Amphibians and reptiles of the state of Coahuila, Mexico, with comparison with adjoining states

    PubMed Central

    Lemos-Espinal, Julio A.; Smith, Geoffrey R.

    2016-01-01

    Abstract We compiled a checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of the state of Coahuila, Mexico. The list comprises 133 species (24 amphibians, 109 reptiles), representing 27 families (9 amphibians, 18 reptiles) and 65 genera (16 amphibians, 49 reptiles). Coahuila has a high richness of lizards in the genus Sceloporus. Coahuila has relatively few state endemics, but has several regional endemics. Overlap in the herpetofauna of Coahuila and bordering states is fairly extensive. Of the 132 species of native amphibians and reptiles, eight are listed as Vulnerable, six as Near Threatened, and six as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. In the SEMARNAT listing, 19 species are Subject to Special Protection, 26 are Threatened, and three are in Danger of Extinction. Coahuila is home to several species of conservation concern, especially lizards and turtles. Coahuila is an important state for the conservation of the native regional fauna. PMID:27408554

  2. Amphibians and reptiles of the state of Coahuila, Mexico, with comparison with adjoining states.

    PubMed

    Lemos-Espinal, Julio A; Smith, Geoffrey R

    2016-01-01

    We compiled a checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of the state of Coahuila, Mexico. The list comprises 133 species (24 amphibians, 109 reptiles), representing 27 families (9 amphibians, 18 reptiles) and 65 genera (16 amphibians, 49 reptiles). Coahuila has a high richness of lizards in the genus Sceloporus. Coahuila has relatively few state endemics, but has several regional endemics. Overlap in the herpetofauna of Coahuila and bordering states is fairly extensive. Of the 132 species of native amphibians and reptiles, eight are listed as Vulnerable, six as Near Threatened, and six as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. In the SEMARNAT listing, 19 species are Subject to Special Protection, 26 are Threatened, and three are in Danger of Extinction. Coahuila is home to several species of conservation concern, especially lizards and turtles. Coahuila is an important state for the conservation of the native regional fauna. PMID:27408554

  3. Snake venom. The amino acid sequence of protein A from Dendroaspis polylepis polylepis (black mamba) venom.

    PubMed

    Joubert, F J; Strydom, D J

    1980-12-01

    Protein A from Dendroaspis polylepis polylepis venom comprises 81 amino acids, including ten half-cystine residues. The complete primary structures of protein A and its variant A' were elucidated. The sequences of proteins A and A', which differ in a single position, show no homology with various neurotoxins and non-neurotoxic proteins and represent a new type of elapid venom protein. PMID:7461607

  4. Parasitoid wasp venom SERCA regulates Drosophila calcium levels and inhibits cellular immunity

    PubMed Central

    Mortimer, Nathan T.; Goecks, Jeremy; Kacsoh, Balint Z.; Mobley, James A.; Bowersock, Gregory J.; Taylor, James; Schlenke, Todd A.

    2013-01-01

    Because parasite virulence factors target host immune responses, identification and functional characterization of these factors can provide insight into poorly understood host immune mechanisms. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is a model system for understanding humoral innate immunity, but Drosophila cellular innate immune responses remain incompletely characterized. Fruit flies are regularly infected by parasitoid wasps in nature and, following infection, flies mount a cellular immune response culminating in the cellular encapsulation of the wasp egg. The mechanistic basis of this response is largely unknown, but wasps use a mixture of virulence proteins derived from the venom gland to suppress cellular encapsulation. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying wasp virulence and fly cellular immunity, we used a joint transcriptomic/proteomic approach to identify venom genes from Ganaspis sp.1 (G1), a previously uncharacterized Drosophila parasitoid species, and found that G1 venom contains a highly abundant sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) pump. Accordingly, we found that fly immune cells termed plasmatocytes normally undergo a cytoplasmic calcium burst following infection, and that this calcium burst is required for activation of the cellular immune response. We further found that the plasmatocyte calcium burst is suppressed by G1 venom in a SERCA-dependent manner, leading to the failure of plasmatocytes to become activated and migrate toward G1 eggs. Finally, by genetically manipulating plasmatocyte calcium levels, we were able to alter fly immune success against G1 and other parasitoid species. Our characterization of parasitoid wasp venom proteins led us to identify plasmatocyte cytoplasmic calcium bursts as an important aspect of fly cellular immunity. PMID:23690612

  5. Production of antibacterial peptide from bee venom via a new strategy for heterologous expression.

    PubMed

    Hou, Chunsheng; Guo, Liqiong; Lin, Junfang; You, Linfeng; Wu, Wuhua

    2014-12-01

    Honey bee is important economic insect that not only pollinates fruits and crops but also provides products with various physiological activities. Bee venom is a functional agent that is widely applied in clinical treatment and pharmacy. Secapin is one of these agents that have a significant role in therapy. The functions of secapin from the bee venom have been documented, but little information is known about its heterologous expression under natural condition. Moreover, few scholars verified experimentally the functions of secapin from bee venom in vitro. In this study, we successfully constructed a heterologous expression vector, which is different from conventional expression system. A transgenic approach was established for transformation of secapin gene from the venom of Apis mellifera carnica (Ac-sec) into the edible fungi, Coprinus cinereus. Ac-sec was encoded by a 234 bp nucleotide that contained a signal peptide domain and two potential phosphorylation sites. The sequence exhibited highly homology with various secapins characterized from honey bee and related species. Southern blot data indicated that Ac-sec was present as single or multiple copy loci in the C. cinereus genome. By co-transformation and double-layer active assay, Ac-sec was expressed successfully in C. cinereus and the antibacterial activity of the recombinants was identified, showing notable antibacterial activities on different bacteria. Although Ac-sec is from the venom of Apidae, phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that Ac-sec was more closely related to that of Vespid than to bee species from Apidae. The molecular characteristics of Ac-sec and the potential roles of small peptides in biology were discussed. PMID:25189650

  6. Next-generation snake venomics: protein-locus resolution through venom proteome decomplexation.

    PubMed

    Calvete, Juan J

    2014-06-01

    Venom research has been continuously enhanced by technological advances. High-throughput technologies are changing the classical paradigm of hypothesis-driven research to technology-driven approaches. However, the thesis advocated in this paper is that full proteome coverage at locus-specific resolution requires integrating the best of both worlds into a protocol that includes decomplexation of the venom proteome prior to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry matching against a species-specific transcriptome. This approach offers the possibility of proof-checking the species-specific contig database using proteomics data. Immunoaffinity chromatography constitutes the basis of an antivenomics workflow designed to quantify the extent of cross-reactivity of antivenoms against homologous and heterologous venom toxins. In the author's view, snake venomics and antivenomics form part of a biology-driven conceptual framework to unveil the genesis and natural history of venoms, and their within- and between-species toxicological and immunological divergences and similarities. Understanding evolutionary trends across venoms represents the Rosetta Stone for generating broad-ranging polyspecific antivenoms. PMID:24678852

  7. Centipede Venom: Recent Discoveries and Current State of Knowledge

    PubMed Central

    Undheim, Eivind A. B.; Fry, Bryan G.; King, Glenn F.

    2015-01-01

    Centipedes are among the oldest extant venomous predators on the planet. Armed with a pair of modified, venom-bearing limbs, they are an important group of predatory arthropods and are infamous for their ability to deliver painful stings. Despite this, very little is known about centipede venom and its composition. Advances in analytical tools, however, have recently provided the first detailed insights into the composition and evolution of centipede venoms. This has revealed that centipede venom proteins are highly diverse, with 61 phylogenetically distinct venom protein and peptide families. A number of these have been convergently recruited into the venoms of other animals, providing valuable information on potential underlying causes of the occasionally serious complications arising from human centipede envenomations. However, the majority of venom protein and peptide families bear no resemblance to any characterised protein or peptide family, highlighting the novelty of centipede venoms. This review highlights recent discoveries and summarises the current state of knowledge on the fascinating venom system of centipedes. PMID:25723324

  8. Bee Venom Phospholipase A2: Yesterday's Enemy Becomes Today's Friend.

    PubMed

    Lee, Gihyun; Bae, Hyunsu

    2016-02-01

    Bee venom therapy has been used to treat immune-related diseases such as arthritis for a long time. Recently, it has revealed that group III secretory phospholipase A2 from bee venom (bee venom group III sPLA2) has in vitro and in vivo immunomodulatory effects. A growing number of reports have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of bee venom group III sPLA2. Notably, new experimental data have shown protective immune responses of bee venom group III sPLA2 against a wide range of diseases including asthma, Parkinson's disease, and drug-induced organ inflammation. It is critical to evaluate the beneficial and adverse effects of bee venom group III sPLA2 because this enzyme is known to be the major allergen of bee venom that can cause anaphylactic shock. For many decades, efforts have been made to avoid its adverse effects. At high concentrations, exposure to bee venom group III sPLA2 can result in damage to cellular membranes and necrotic cell death. In this review, we summarized the current knowledge about the therapeutic effects of bee venom group III sPLA2 on several immunological diseases and described the detailed mechanisms of bee venom group III sPLA2 in regulating various immune responses and physiopathological changes. PMID:26907347

  9. Centipede venom: recent discoveries and current state of knowledge.

    PubMed

    Undheim, Eivind A B; Fry, Bryan G; King, Glenn F

    2015-03-01

    Centipedes are among the oldest extant venomous predators on the planet. Armed with a pair of modified, venom-bearing limbs, they are an important group of predatory arthropods and are infamous for their ability to deliver painful stings. Despite this, very little is known about centipede venom and its composition. Advances in analytical tools, however, have recently provided the first detailed insights into the composition and evolution of centipede venoms. This has revealed that centipede venom proteins are highly diverse, with 61 phylogenetically distinct venom protein and peptide families. A number of these have been convergently recruited into the venoms of other animals, providing valuable information on potential underlying causes of the occasionally serious complications arising from human centipede envenomations. However, the majority of venom protein and peptide families bear no resemblance to any characterised protein or peptide family, highlighting the novelty of centipede venoms. This review highlights recent discoveries and summarises the current state of knowledge on the fascinating venom system of centipedes. PMID:25723324

  10. Modulation of intracellular Ca2+ levels by Scorpaenidae venoms.

    PubMed

    Church, Jarrod E; Moldrich, Randal X; Beart, Philip M; Hodgson, Wayne C

    2003-05-01

    The crude venoms of the soldierfish (Gymnapistes marmoratus), the lionfish (Pterois volitans) and the stonefish (Synanceia trachynis) display pronounced neuromuscular activity. Since [Ca(2+)](i) is a key regulator in many aspects of neuromuscular function we sought to determine its involvement in the neuromuscular actions of the venoms. In the chick biventer cervicis muscle, all three venoms produced a sustained contraction (approx 20-30% of 1mM acetylcholine). Blockade of nicotinic receptors with tubocurarine (10 micro M) failed to attenuate the contractile response to either G. marmoratus venom or P. volitans venom, but produced slight inhibition of the response to S. trachynis venom. All three venoms produced a rise in intracellular Ca(2+) (approx. 200-300% of basal) in cultured murine cortical neurons. The Ca(2+)-channel blockers omega-conotoxin MVIIC, omega-conotoxin GVIA, omega-agatoxin IVa and nifedipine (each at 1 micro M) potentiated the increase in [Ca(2+)](i) in response to G. marmoratus venom and P. volitans venom, while attenuating the response to S. trachynis venom. Removal of extracellular Ca(2+), replacement of Ca(2+) with La(3+) (0.5mM), or addition of stonefish antivenom (3units/ml) inhibited both the venom-induced increase in [Ca(2+)](i) in cultured neurones and contraction in chick biventer cervicis muscle. Venom-induced increases in [Ca(2+)](i) correlated with an increased cell death of cultured neurones as measured using propidium iodide (1 micro g/ml). Morphological analysis revealed cellular swelling and neurite loss consistent with necrosis. These data indicate that the effects of all three venoms are due in part to an increase in intracellular Ca(2+), possibly via the formation of pores in the cellular membrane which, under certain conditions, can lead to necrosis. PMID:12727272

  11. Categorization of venoms according to bonding properties: An immunological overview.

    PubMed

    Ibrahim, Nihal M; El-Kady, Ebtsam M; Asker, Mohsen S

    2016-02-01

    In this report, we present a study on the antigenic cross-reactivity of various venoms from the most dangerous Egyptian snakes and scorpions belonging to families Elapidae, Viperidae and Buthidae. The study was carried out with special reference to bonding properties between venoms and antivenoms and their involvement in the formation of specific and/or cross-reactive interactions. The homologous polyclonal antivenoms showed high reactivity to the respective venoms and cross-reacted with varying degrees to other non-homologous venoms. Assorting the antivenoms according to their susceptibility to dissociation by different concentrations of NH4SCN revealed that most of the antibodies involved in homologous venom-antivenom interactions were highly avid; building up strong venom-antivenom bonding. Whereas cross-reactions due to heterologous interactions were mediated by less avid antibodies that ultimately led to the formation of venom-antivenom bonding of different power strengths depending on the antigenic similarity and hence on the phylogenetic relationship of the tested venom. A new parameter evaluating high and low avid interactions, designated as H/L value, for each antigen-antibody bonding was initiated and used as an indicator of bonding strength between different venom-antivenom partners. H/L values were many folds higher than 1 for homologous and closely related venoms, 1 or around 1 for cross-reactive venoms, whereas venoms from unrelated remote sources recorded H/L values far less than 1. Using well defined polyclonal antivenoms, H/L value was successfully used to assign eight unknown venoms to their animal families and the results were confirmed by species-specific ELISA and immunoblotting assays. PMID:26690707

  12. Energetics of free-ranging mammals, reptiles, and birds.

    PubMed

    Nagy, K A; Girard, I A; Brown, T K

    1999-01-01

    We summarize the recent information on field metabolic rates (FMR) of wild terrestrial vertebrates as determined by the doubly labeled water technique. Allometric (scaling) relationships are calculated for mammals (79 species), reptiles (55 species), and birds (95 species) and for various taxonomic, dietary, and habitat groups within these categories. Exponential equations based on body mass are offered for predicting rates of daily energy expenditure and daily food requirements of free-ranging mammals, reptiles, and birds. Significant scaling differences between various taxa, dietary, and habitat groups (detected by analysis of covariance with P < or = 0.05) include the following: (a) The allometric slope for reptiles (0.889) is greater than that for mammals (0.734), which is greater than that for birds (0.681); (b) the slope for eutherian mammals (0.772) is greater than that for marsupial mammals (0.590); (c) among families of birds, slopes do not differ but elevations (intercepts) do, with passerine and procellariid birds having relatively high FMRs and gallinaceous birds having low FMRs; (d) Scleroglossan lizards have a higher slope (0.949) than do Iguanian lizards (0.793); (e) desert mammals have a higher slope (0.785) than do nondesert mammals; (f) marine birds have relatively high FMRs and desert birds have low FMRs; and (g) carnivorous mammals have a relatively high slope and carnivorous, insectivorous, and nectarivorous birds have relatively higher FMRs than do omnivores and granivores. The difference detected between passerine and nonpasserine birds reported in earlier reviews is not evident in the larger data set analyzed here. When the results are adjusted for phylogenetic effects using independent contrasts analysis, the difference between allometric slopes for marsupials and eutherians is no longer significant and the slope difference between Scleroglossan and Iguanian lizards disappears as well, but other taxonomic differences remain significant

  13. Mediterranean Jellyfish Venoms: A Review on Scyphomedusae

    PubMed Central

    Mariottini, Gian Luigi; Pane, Luigi

    2010-01-01

    The production of natural toxins is an interesting aspect, which characterizes the physiology and the ecology of a number of marine species that use them for defence/offence purposes. Cnidarians are of particular concern from this point of view; their venoms are contained in specialized structures–the nematocysts–which, after mechanical or chemical stimulation, inject the venom in the prey or in the attacker. Cnidarian stinging is a serious health problem for humans in the zones where extremely venomous jellyfish or anemones are common, such as in temperate and tropical oceanic waters and particularly along several Pacific coasts, and severe cases of envenomation, including also lethal cases mainly induced by cubomedusae, were reported. On the contrary, in the Mediterranean region the problem of jellyfish stings is quite modest, even though they can have anyhow an impact on public health and be of importance from the ecological and economic point of view owing to the implications on ecosystems and on some human activities such as tourism, bathing and fishing. This paper reviews the knowledge about the various aspects related to the occurrence and the stinging of the Mediterranean scyphozoan jellyfish as well as the activity of their venoms. PMID:20479971

  14. The Mitochondrial Genome of the Venomous Cone Snail Conus consors

    PubMed Central

    Brauer, Age; Kurz, Alexander; Stockwell, Tim; Baden-Tillson, Holly; Heidler, Juliana; Wittig, Ilka; Kauferstein, Silke; Mebs, Dietrich; Stöcklin, Reto; Remm, Maido

    2012-01-01

    Cone snails are venomous predatory marine neogastropods that belong to the species-rich superfamily of the Conoidea. So far, the mitochondrial genomes of two cone snail species (Conus textile and Conus borgesi) have been described, and these feed on snails and worms, respectively. Here, we report the mitochondrial genome sequence of the fish-hunting cone snail Conus consors and describe a novel putative control region (CR) which seems to be absent in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of other cone snail species. This possible CR spans about 700 base pairs (bp) and is located between the genes encoding the transfer RNA for phenylalanine (tRNA-Phe, trnF) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit III (cox3). The novel putative CR contains several sequence motifs that suggest a role in mitochondrial replication and transcription. PMID:23236512

  15. Identification, recombinant expression, and characterization of the 100 kDa high molecular weight Hymenoptera venom allergens Api m 5 and Ves v 3.

    PubMed

    Blank, Simon; Seismann, Henning; Bockisch, Benjamin; Braren, Ingke; Cifuentes, Liliana; McIntyre, Mareike; Rühl, Dana; Ring, Johannes; Bredehorst, Reinhard; Ollert, Markus W; Grunwald, Thomas; Spillner, Edzard

    2010-05-01

    Insect stings can cause life-threatening IgE-mediated anaphylactic reactions in venom-allergic patients. Although several compounds have already been described as venom allergens, prominent allergen candidates especially in the higher m.w. range have still remained elusive. Tandem mass spectrometry-based sequencing assigned a candidate gene to the most prominent putative high m.w. allergen Api m 5 (allergen C) in honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom and also allowed identification of its homologue Ves v 3 in yellow jacket (Vespula vulgaris) venom. Both proteins exhibit a pronounced sequence identity to human dipeptidyl peptidase IV or CD26. Reactivity of a human IgE mAb verified the presence of these proteins in the venoms. Both proteins were produced in insect cells and characterized for their enzymatic activity as well as their allergenic potential using sera and basophils from insect venom-allergic patients. Both Api m 5 and Ves v 3 were recognized by specific IgE of the majority of patients even in the absence of cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants. Serologic IgE reactivity closely matched activation of human basophils by Api m 5 or Ves v 3, thus underlining their relevance in functional assays. With Api m 5 and Ves v 3, a new pair of homologous allergens becomes available for future clinical applications in diagnosis and therapy that may also contribute to the understanding of molecular mechanisms of insect venoms. Moreover, the patient IgE reactivity together with the cellular activation demonstrates for the first time the relevance of high m.w. allergens in the context of hymenoptera venom allergy. PMID:20348419

  16. Toward consilience in reptile phylogeny: miRNAs support an archosaur, not lepidosaur, affinity for turtles.

    PubMed

    Field, Daniel J; Gauthier, Jacques A; King, Benjamin L; Pisani, Davide; Lyson, Tyler R; Peterson, Kevin J

    2014-01-01

    Understanding the phylogenetic position of crown turtles (Testudines) among amniotes has been a source of particular contention. Recent morphological analyses suggest that turtles are sister to all other reptiles, whereas the vast majority of gene sequence analyses support turtles as being inside Diapsida, and usually as sister to crown Archosauria (birds and crocodilians). Previously, a study using microRNAs (miRNAs) placed turtles inside diapsids, but as sister to lepidosaurs (lizards and Sphenodon) rather than archosaurs. Here, we test this hypothesis with an expanded miRNA presence/absence dataset, and employ more rigorous criteria for miRNA annotation. Significantly, we find no support for a turtle + lepidosaur sister-relationship; instead, we recover strong support for turtles sharing a more recent common ancestor with archosaurs. We further test this result by analyzing a super-alignment of precursor miRNA sequences for every miRNA inferred to have been present in the most recent common ancestor of tetrapods. This analysis yields a topology that is fully congruent with our presence/absence analysis; our results are therefore in accordance with most gene sequence studies, providing strong, consilient molecular evidence from diverse independent datasets regarding the phylogenetic position of turtles. PMID:24798503

  17. Integrated Analyses Resolve Conflicts over Squamate Reptile Phylogeny and Reveal Unexpected Placements for Fossil Taxa

    PubMed Central

    Reeder, Tod W.; Townsend, Ted M.; Mulcahy, Daniel G.; Noonan, Brice P.; Wood, Perry L.; Sites, Jack W.; Wiens, John J.

    2015-01-01

    Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) are a pivotal group whose relationships have become increasingly controversial. Squamates include >9000 species, making them the second largest group of terrestrial vertebrates. They are important medicinally and as model systems for ecological and evolutionary research. However, studies of squamate biology are hindered by uncertainty over their relationships, and some consider squamate phylogeny unresolved, given recent conflicts between molecular and morphological results. To resolve these conflicts, we expand existing morphological and molecular datasets for squamates (691 morphological characters and 46 genes, for 161 living and 49 fossil taxa, including a new set of 81 morphological characters and adding two genes from published studies) and perform integrated analyses. Our results resolve higher-level relationships as indicated by molecular analyses, and reveal hidden morphological support for the molecular hypothesis (but not vice-versa). Furthermore, we find that integrating molecular, morphological, and paleontological data leads to surprising placements for two major fossil clades (Mosasauria and Polyglyphanodontia). These results further demonstrate the importance of combining fossil and molecular information, and the potential problems of estimating the placement of fossil taxa from morphological data alone. Thus, our results caution against estimating fossil relationships without considering relevant molecular data, and against placing fossils into molecular trees (e.g. for dating analyses) without considering the possible impact of molecular data on their placement. PMID:25803280

  18. Two waves of diversification in mammals and reptiles of Baja California revealed by hierarchical Bayesian analysis.

    PubMed

    Leaché, Adam D; Crews, Sarah C; Hickerson, Michael J

    2007-12-22

    Many species inhabiting the Peninsular Desert of Baja California demonstrate a phylogeographic break at the mid-peninsula, and previous researchers have attributed this shared pattern to a single vicariant event, a mid-peninsular seaway. However, previous studies have not explicitly considered the inherent stochasticity associated with the gene-tree coalescence for species preceding the time of the putative mid-peninsular divergence. We use a Bayesian analysis of a hierarchical model to test for simultaneous vicariance across co-distributed sister lineages sharing a genealogical break at the mid-peninsula. This Bayesian method is advantageous over traditional phylogenetic interpretations of biogeography because it considers the genetic variance associated with the coalescent and mutational processes, as well as the among-lineage demographic differences that affect gene-tree coalescent patterns. Mitochondrial DNA data from six small mammals and six squamate reptiles do not support the perception of a shared vicariant history among lineages exhibiting a north-south divergence at the mid-peninsula, and instead support two events differentially structuring genetic diversity in this region. PMID:17698443

  19. Integrated analyses resolve conflicts over squamate reptile phylogeny and reveal unexpected placements for fossil taxa.

    PubMed

    Reeder, Tod W; Townsend, Ted M; Mulcahy, Daniel G; Noonan, Brice P; Wood, Perry L; Sites, Jack W; Wiens, John J

    2015-01-01

    Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) are a pivotal group whose relationships have become increasingly controversial. Squamates include >9000 species, making them the second largest group of terrestrial vertebrates. They are important medicinally and as model systems for ecological and evolutionary research. However, studies of squamate biology are hindered by uncertainty over their relationships, and some consider squamate phylogeny unresolved, given recent conflicts between molecular and morphological results. To resolve these conflicts, we expand existing morphological and molecular datasets for squamates (691 morphological characters and 46 genes, for 161 living and 49 fossil taxa, including a new set of 81 morphological characters and adding two genes from published studies) and perform integrated analyses. Our results resolve higher-level relationships as indicated by molecular analyses, and reveal hidden morphological support for the molecular hypothesis (but not vice-versa). Furthermore, we find that integrating molecular, morphological, and paleontological data leads to surprising placements for two major fossil clades (Mosasauria and Polyglyphanodontia). These results further demonstrate the importance of combining fossil and molecular information, and the potential problems of estimating the placement of fossil taxa from morphological data alone. Thus, our results caution against estimating fossil relationships without considering relevant molecular data, and against placing fossils into molecular trees (e.g. for dating analyses) without considering the possible impact of molecular data on their placement. PMID:25803280

  20. Coevolution of diet and prey-specific venom activity supports the role of selection in snake venom evolution

    PubMed Central

    Barlow, Axel; Pook, Catharine E.; Harrison, Robert A.; Wüster, Wolfgang

    2009-01-01

    The processes that drive the evolution of snake venom variability, particularly the role of diet, have been a topic of intense recent research interest. Here, we test whether extensive variation in venom composition in the medically important viper genus Echis is associated with shifts in diet. Examination of stomach and hindgut contents revealed extreme variation between the major clades of Echis in the proportion of arthropod prey consumed. The toxicity (median lethal dose, LD50) of representative Echis venoms to a natural scorpion prey species was found to be strongly associated with the degree of arthropod feeding. Mapping the results onto a novel Echis phylogeny generated from nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data revealed two independent instances of coevolution of venom toxicity and diet. Unlike venom LD50, the speed with which venoms incapacitated and killed scorpions was not associated with the degree of arthropod feeding. The prey-specific venom toxicity of arthropod-feeding Echis may thus be adaptive primarily by reducing venom expenditure. Overall, our results provide strong evidence that variation in snake venom composition results from adaptive evolution driven by natural selection for different diets, and underscores the need for a multi-faceted, integrative approach to the study of the causes of venom evolution. PMID:19364745

  1. Transcriptome analysis of the venom gland of the scorpion Scorpiops jendeki: implication for the evolution of the scorpion venom arsenal

    PubMed Central

    Ma, Yibao; Zhao, Ruiming; He, Yawen; Li, Songryong; Liu, Jun; Wu, Yingliang; Cao, Zhijian; Li, Wenxin

    2009-01-01

    Background The family Euscorpiidae, which covers Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, is one of the most widely distributed scorpion groups. However, no studies have been conducted on the venom of a Euscorpiidae species yet. In this work, we performed a transcriptomic approach for characterizing the venom components from a Euscorpiidae scorpion, Scorpiops jendeki. Results There are ten known types of venom peptides and proteins obtained from Scorpiops jendeki. Great diversity is observed in primary sequences of most highly expressed types. The most highly expressed types are cytolytic peptides and serine proteases. Neurotoxins specific for sodium channels, which are major groups of venom components from Buthidae scorpions, are not detected in this study. In addition to those known types of venom peptides and proteins, we also obtain nine atypical types of venom molecules which haven't been observed in any other scorpion species studied to date. Conclusion This work provides the first set of cDNAs from Scorpiops jendeki, and one of the few transcriptomic analyses from a scorpion. This allows the characterization of a large number of venom molecules, belonging to either known or atypical types of scorpion venom peptides and proteins. Besides, our work could provide some clues to the evolution of the scorpion venom arsenal by comparison with venom data from other scorpion lineages. PMID:19570192

  2. Proteome and phosphoproteome analysis of honeybee (Apis mellifera) venom collected from electrical stimulation and manual extraction of the venom gland

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Honeybee venom is a complicated defensive toxin that has a wide range of pharmacologically active compounds. Some of these compounds are useful for human therapeutics. There are two major forms of honeybee venom used in pharmacological applications: manually (or reservoir disrupting) extracted glandular venom (GV), and venom extracted through the use of electrical stimulation (ESV). A proteome comparison of these two venom forms and an understanding of the phosphorylation status of ESV, are still very limited. Here, the proteomes of GV and ESV were compared using both gel-based and gel-free proteomics approaches and the phosphoproteome of ESV was determined through the use of TiO2 enrichment. Results Of the 43 proteins identified in GV, < 40% were venom toxins, and > 60% of the proteins were non-toxic proteins resulting from contamination by gland tissue damage during extraction and bee death. Of the 17 proteins identified in ESV, 14 proteins (>80%) were venom toxic proteins and most of them were found in higher abundance than in GV. Moreover, two novel proteins (dehydrogenase/reductase SDR family member 11-like and histone H2B.3-like) and three novel phosphorylation sites (icarapin (S43), phospholipase A-2 (T145), and apamin (T23)) were identified. Conclusions Our data demonstrate that venom extracted manually is different from venom extracted using ESV, and these differences may be important in their use as pharmacological agents. ESV may be more efficient than GV as a potential pharmacological source because of its higher venom protein content, production efficiency, and without the need to kill honeybee. The three newly identified phosphorylated venom proteins in ESV may elicit a different immune response through the specific recognition of antigenic determinants. The two novel venom proteins extend our proteome coverage of honeybee venom. PMID:24199871

  3. Antitumor effect of Bothrops jararaca venom.

    PubMed Central

    da Silva, Reinaldo J; da Silva, Márcia G; Vilela, Lízia C; Fecchio, Denise

    2002-01-01

    Many experimental studies have been carried out using snake venoms for the treatment of animal tumors, with controversial results. While some authors have reported an antitumor effect of treatment with specific snake venom fractions, others have reported no effects after this treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of Bothrops jararaca venom (BjV) on Ehrlich ascites tumor (EAT) cells in vivo and in vitro. In the in vivo study, Swiss mice were inoculated with EAT cells by the intraperitoneal (i.p.) route and treated with BjV venom (0.4 mg/kg, i.p.), on the 1st, 4th, 7th, 10th, and 13th days. Mice were evaluated for total and differential cells number on the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th and 14th days. The survival time was also evaluated after 60 days of tumor growth. In the in vitro study, EAT and normal peritoneal cells were cultivated in the presence of different BjV concentrations (2.5, 5.0, 10.0, 20.0, 40.0, and 80 microg) and viability was verified after 3, 6, 12 and 24 h of cultivation. Results were analyzed statistically by the Kruskal-Wallis and Tukey tests at the 5% level of significance. It was observed that in vivo treatment with BjV induced tumor growth inhibition, increased animal survival time, decreased mortality, increased the influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes on the early stages of tumor growth, and did not affect the mononuclear cells number. In vitro treatment with BjV produced a dose-dependent toxic effect on EAT and peritoneal cells, with higher effects against peritoneal cells. Taken together, our results demonstrate that BjV has an important antitumor effect. This is the first report showing this in vivo effect for this venom. PMID:12061431

  4. Current research on the behavioral neuroendocrinology of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Wade, Juli

    2005-11-01

    Selected reptilian species have been the targets of investigations in behavioral neuroendocrinology for many years. Reptiles offer a particularly powerful set of traits that facilitate comparisons at multiple levels, including those within and between individuals of a particular species, between different environmental and social contexts, as well as across species. These types of studies, particularly as they are considered within the framework of results from other vertebrates, will enhance our understanding of the genetic and hormonal influences regulating changes in the structure and function of the nervous system. Work on the hormonal and environmental factors influencing courtship and copulatory behaviors in green anoles, including the development and maintenance of the neuromuscular structures critical for their display, is highlighted. Some very recent work on other model systems is also discussed to provide a context for suggested future research directions. PMID:16239163

  5. Social learning in a non-social reptile (Geochelone carbonaria).

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Anna; Kuenstner, Karin; Mueller, Julia; Huber, Ludwig

    2010-10-23

    The ability to learn from the actions of another is adaptive, as it is a shortcut for acquiring new information. However, the evolutionary origins of this trait are still unclear. There is evidence that group-living mammals, birds, fishes and insects can learn through observation, but this has never been investigated in reptiles. Here, we show that the non-social red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) can learn from the actions of a conspecific in a detour task; non-observer animals (without a conspecific demonstrator) failed. This result provides the first evidence that a non-social species can use social cues to solve a task that it cannot solve through individual learning, challenging the idea that social learning is an adaptation for social living. PMID:20356886

  6. Social learning in a non-social reptile (Geochelone carbonaria)

    PubMed Central

    Wilkinson, Anna; Kuenstner, Karin; Mueller, Julia; Huber, Ludwig

    2010-01-01

    The ability to learn from the actions of another is adaptive, as it is a shortcut for acquiring new information. However, the evolutionary origins of this trait are still unclear. There is evidence that group-living mammals, birds, fishes and insects can learn through observation, but this has never been investigated in reptiles. Here, we show that the non-social red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) can learn from the actions of a conspecific in a detour task; non-observer animals (without a conspecific demonstrator) failed. This result provides the first evidence that a non-social species can use social cues to solve a task that it cannot solve through individual learning, challenging the idea that social learning is an adaptation for social living. PMID:20356886

  7. High incubation temperatures enhance mitochondrial energy metabolism in reptile embryos

    PubMed Central

    Sun, Bao-Jun; Li, Teng; Gao, Jing; Ma, Liang; Du, Wei-Guo

    2015-01-01

    Developmental rate increases exponentially with increasing temperature in ectothermic animals, but the biochemical basis underlying this thermal dependence is largely unexplored. We measured mitochondrial respiration and metabolic enzyme activities of turtle embryos (Pelodiscus sinensis) incubated at different temperatures to identify the metabolic basis of the rapid development occurring at high temperatures in reptile embryos. Developmental rate increased with increasing incubation temperatures in the embryos of P. sinensis. Correspondingly, in addition to the thermal dependence of mitochondrial respiration and metabolic enzyme activities, high-temperature incubation further enhanced mitochondrial respiration and COX activities in the embryos. This suggests that embryos may adjust mitochondrial respiration and metabolic enzyme activities in response to developmental temperature to achieve high developmental rates at high temperatures. Our study highlights the importance of biochemical investigations in understanding the proximate mechanisms by which temperature affects embryonic development. PMID:25749301

  8. Toward consilience in reptile phylogeny: microRNAs support an archosaur, not a lepidosaur affinity for turtles

    PubMed Central

    Field, Daniel J.; Gauthier, Jacques A.; King, Benjamin L.; Pisani, Davide; Lyson, Tyler R.; Peterson, Kevin J.

    2014-01-01

    Understanding the phylogenetic placement of crown turtles (Testudines) among amniotes has been a source of particular contention. Recent morphological analyses suggest that turtles are sister to all other reptiles, whereas virtually all analyses of gene sequences support turtles as being inside Diapsida, and usually as sister to crown Archosauria (birds and crocodylians). Previously, a study using microRNAs (miRNAs) placed turtles inside diapsids, but as sister to lepidosaurs (lizards and Sphenodon) rather than archosaurs. Here, we test this result with an expanded dataset, and employ proper criteria for miRNA annotation. Significantly, we find no support for a turtle + lepidosaur sister-relationship; intstead, we recover strong support for turtles sharing a more recent common ancestor with archosaurs as the living sister group to birds + crocodylians. These results are in accordance with most gene sequence studies, providing strong, consilient evidence from diverse independent datasets for the phylogenetic position of turtles. PMID:24798503

  9. Antibacterial properties of KwaZulu natal snake venoms.

    PubMed

    Blaylock, R S

    2000-11-01

    The objective was to ascertain whether local snake venoms have antibacterial properties. The venoms of the common night adder (Causus rhombeatus), gaboon adder (Bitis gabonica), puff adder (Bitis arietans), black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis augusticeps), forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca), snouted cobra (Naja annulifera) and Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica) were collected and, by gel diffusion, tested against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeriginosa, Bacteriodes fragilis, Bacteroides intermedius, Clostridium sordellii and Clostridium perfringens. All snake venoms showed antibacterial activity, with the adders showing most activity against the aerobes while the cobras showed lesser, but equal activity against the aerobes and anaerobes. Black mamba venom only showed activity against C. perfringens. In conclusion, local snake venoms have antibacterial properties which are dependent on the venom and bacterial type; and in the Naja spp., for anaerobic bacteria, diminish in winter. There is liable to be more than one toxin component responsible. PMID:10775753

  10. A zoological catalogue of hunted reptiles in the semiarid region of Brazil

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    The variety of interactions between human cultures and herpetofauna is the subject matter of Ethnoherpetology, a subdivision of Ethnozoology. In the semi-arid region of Brazil, many reptiles interact with human communities because of their utility or because of the risks they represent. These interactions have obvious implications for the conservation of reptiles from this region.In this context, ethnoherpetology studies are crucial because they serve as subsidies for guiding strategies for the handling and conservation of reptiles. This paper presents ethnozoological and taxonomic informations of hunted reptiles in the semiarid region of Brazil and analyse the implications on conservation that are related to the interactions between people and reptiles in this region. Taxonomic keys to identifying recorded reptiles are provided. Records of humans interacting with 38 reptile species that belong to 31 genuses and 16 families have been found. The groups with the largest numbers of recorded species were snakes (18 species), and this group was followed in number by lizards (13), chelonians (4), and crocodilians (3). The reptiles that were recorded may be used for the following purposes: medicinal purposes (24 species), food (13 species), ornamental or decorative purposes (11 species), in magical/religious practices (10 species), and as pets (10 species). Some species (n = 16) may have multiple uses. Furthermore, more than half of the species (n = 19) are commonly killed because they are considered potentially dangerous. Strategies for conserving the reptiles of the Brazilian semi-arid region must reconcile and integrate human and conservation needs. PMID:22846258

  11. Complete sequence determination of a novel reptile iridovirus isolated from soft-shelled turtle and evolutionary analysis of Iridoviridae

    PubMed Central

    Huang, Youhua; Huang, Xiaohong; Liu, Hong; Gong, Jie; Ouyang, Zhengliang; Cui, Huachun; Cao, Jianhao; Zhao, Yingtao; Wang, Xiujie; Jiang, Yulin; Qin, Qiwei

    2009-01-01

    Background Soft-shelled turtle iridovirus (STIV) is the causative agent of severe systemic diseases in cultured soft-shelled turtles (Trionyx sinensis). To our knowledge, the only molecular information available on STIV mainly concerns the highly conserved STIV major capsid protein. The complete sequence of the STIV genome is not yet available. Therefore, determining the genome sequence of STIV and providing a detailed bioinformatic analysis of its genome content and evolution status will facilitate further understanding of the taxonomic elements of STIV and the molecular mechanisms of reptile iridovirus pathogenesis. Results We determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the STIV genome using 454 Life Science sequencing technology. The STIV genome is 105 890 bp in length with a base composition of 55.1% G+C. Computer assisted analysis revealed that the STIV genome contains 105 potential open reading frames (ORFs), which encode polypeptides ranging from 40 to 1,294 amino acids and 20 microRNA candidates. Among the putative proteins, 20 share homology with the ancestral proteins of the nuclear and cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs). Comparative genomic analysis showed that STIV has the highest degree of sequence conservation and a colinear arrangement of genes with frog virus 3 (FV3), followed by Tiger frog virus (TFV), Ambystoma tigrinum virus (ATV), Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV), Grouper iridovirus (GIV) and other iridovirus isolates. Phylogenetic analysis based on conserved core genes and complete genome sequence of STIV with other virus genomes was performed. Moreover, analysis of the gene gain-and-loss events in the family Iridoviridae suggested that the genes encoded by iridoviruses have evolved for favoring adaptation to different natural host species. Conclusion This study has provided the complete genome sequence of STIV. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that STIV and FV3 are strains of the same viral species belonging to the Ranavirus genus in

  12. Transcriptome analysis of Loxosceles laeta (Araneae, Sicariidae) spider venomous gland using expressed sequence tags

    PubMed Central

    Fernandes-Pedrosa, Matheus de F; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio de LM; Gonçalves-de-Andrade, Rute M; Kobashi, Leonardo S; Almeida, Diego D; Ho, Paulo L; Tambourgi, Denise V

    2008-01-01

    Background The bite of spiders belonging to the genus Loxosceles can induce a variety of clinical symptoms, including dermonecrosis, thrombosis, vascular leakage, haemolysis, and persistent inflammation. In order to examine the transcripts expressed in venom gland of Loxosceles laeta spider and to unveil the potential of its products on cellular structure and functional aspects, we generated 3,008 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a cDNA library. Results All ESTs were clustered into 1,357 clusters, of which 16.4% of the total ESTs belong to recognized toxin-coding sequences, being the Sphingomyelinases D the most abundant transcript; 14.5% include "possible toxins", whose transcripts correspond to metalloproteinases, serinoproteinases, hyaluronidases, lipases, C-lectins, cystein peptidases and inhibitors. Thirty three percent of the ESTs are similar to cellular transcripts, being the major part represented by molecules involved in gene and protein expression, reflecting the specialization of this tissue for protein synthesis. In addition, a considerable number of sequences, 25%, has no significant similarity to any known sequence. Conclusion This study provides a first global view of the gene expression scenario of the venom gland of L. laeta described so far, indicating the molecular bases of its venom composition. PMID:18547439

  13. Rickettsial infections in ticks from reptiles, birds and humans in Honduras.

    PubMed

    Novakova, Marketa; Literak, Ivan; Chevez, Luis; Martins, Thiago F; Ogrzewalska, Maria; Labruna, Marcelo B

    2015-09-01

    Ticks were collected from captive reptiles, wild birds, and incidentally from humans at two locations in Honduras and part of these were tested for the presence of Rickettsia using polymerase chain reaction. The following species of ticks were found: Amblyomma dissimile on Iguanidae reptiles, Amblyomma longirostre and Amblyomma nodosum on birds, and Amblyomma mixtum (Amblyomma cajennense complex) on humans. A. dissimile was infected with Rickettsia sp. strain Colombianensi. Both A. longirostre and A. mixtum were infected with Candidatus 'Rickettsia amblyommii'. This study provides the first report of rickettsial infections in ticks from reptiles, birds and humans in Honduras. New host - Amblyomma tick associations are documented. PMID:26159797

  14. Snake venomics: from the inventory of toxins to biology.

    PubMed

    Calvete, Juan J

    2013-12-01

    A deep understanding of the composition of venoms and of the principles governing the evolution of venomous systems is of applied importance for exploring the enormous potential of venoms as sources of chemical and pharmacological novelty but also to fight the dire consequences of snakebite envenomings. This goal is now within the reach of "omic" technologies. A central thesis developed in this essay is the view that making sense of the huge inventory of data gathered through "omic" approaches requires the integration of this information across the biological system. Key to this is the identification of evolutionary and ecological trends; without the evolutionary link, systems venomics is relegated to a set of miscellaneous facts. The interplay between chance and adaptation plays a central role in the evolution of biological systems (Monod, 1970). However, the evolution of venomous species and their venoms do not always follow the same course, and the identification of structural and functional convergences and divergences among venoms is often unpredictable by a phylogenetic hypothesis. Toxins sharing a structural fold present in venoms from phylogenetically distant snakes often share antigenic determinants. The deficit of antivenom supply in certain regions of the world can be mitigated in part through the optimized use of existing antivenoms, and through the design of novel broad-range polyspecific antivenoms. Proteomics-guided identification of evolutionary and immunoreactivity trends among homologous and heterologous venoms may aid in the replacement of the traditional geographic- and phylogenetic-driven hypotheses for antivenom production strategies by a more rationale approach based on a hypothesis-driven systems venomics approach. Selected applications of venomics and antivenomics for exploring the chemical space and immunological profile of venoms will illustrate the author's views on the impact these proteomics tools may have in the field of toxinology

  15. Analysis of the intersexual variation in Thalassophryne maculosa fish venoms.

    PubMed

    Lopes-Ferreira, Mônica; Sosa-Rosales, Ines; Bruni, Fernanda M; Ramos, Anderson D; Vieira Portaro, Fernanda Calheta; Conceição, Katia; Lima, Carla

    2016-06-01

    Gender related variation in the molecular composition of venoms and secretions have been described for some animal species, and there are some evidences that the difference in the toxin (s) profile among males and females may be related to different physiopathological effects caused by the envenomation by either gender. In order to investigate whether this same phenomenon occurs to the toadfish Thalassophryne maculosa, we have compared some biological and biochemical properties of female and male venoms. Twenty females and males were collected in deep waters of the La Restinga lagoon (Venezuela) and, after protein concentration assessed, the induction of toxic activities in mice and the biochemical properties were analyzed. Protein content is higher in males than in females, which may be associated to a higher size and weight of the male body. In vivo studies showed that mice injected with male venoms presented higher nociception when compared to those injected with female venoms, and both venoms induced migration of macrophages into the paw of mice. On the other hand, mice injected with female venoms had more paw edema and extravasation of Evans blue in peritoneal cavity than mice injected with male venoms. We observed that the female venoms had more capacity for necrosis induction when compared with male venoms. The female samples present a higher proteolytic activity then the male venom when gelatin, casein and FRETs were used as substrates. Evaluation of the venoms of females and males by SDS-PAGE and chromatographic profile showed that, at least three components (present in two peaks) are only present in males. Although the severity of the lesion, characterized by necrosis development, is related with the poisoning by female specimens, the presence of exclusive toxins in the male venoms could be associated with the largest capacity of nociception induction by this sample. PMID:26988736

  16. Animal venom studies: Current benefits and future developments.

    PubMed

    Utkin, Yuri N

    2015-05-26

    Poisonous organisms are represented in many taxa, including kingdom Animalia. During evolution, animals have developed special organs for production and injection of venoms. Animal venoms are complex mixtures, compositions of which depend on species producing venom. The most known and studied poisonous terrestrial animals are snakes, scorpions and spiders. Among marine animals, these are jellyfishes, anemones and cone snails. The toxic substances in the venom of these animals are mainly of protein and peptide origin. Recent studies have indicated that the single venom may contain up to several hundred different components producing diverse physiological effects. Bites or stings by certain poisonous species result in severe envenomations leading in some cases to death. This raises the problem of bite treatment. The most effective treatment so far is the application of antivenoms. To enhance the effectiveness of such treatments, the knowledge of venom composition is needed. On the other hand, venoms contain substances with unique biological properties, which can be used both in basic science and in clinical applications. The best example of toxin application in basic science is α-bungarotoxin the discovery of which made a big impact on the studies of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Today compositions of venom from many species have already been examined. Based on these data, one can conclude that venoms contain a large number of individual components belonging to a limited number of structural types. Often minor changes in the amino acid sequence give rise to new biological properties. Change in the living conditions of poisonous animals lead to alterations in the composition of venoms resulting in appearance of new toxins. At the same time introduction of new methods of proteomics and genomics lead to discoveries of new compounds, which may serve as research tools or as templates for the development of novel drugs. The application of these sensitive and

  17. Animal venom studies: Current benefits and future developments

    PubMed Central

    Utkin, Yuri N

    2015-01-01

    Poisonous organisms are represented in many taxa, including kingdom Animalia. During evolution, animals have developed special organs for production and injection of venoms. Animal venoms are complex mixtures, compositions of which depend on species producing venom. The most known and studied poisonous terrestrial animals are snakes, scorpions and spiders. Among marine animals, these are jellyfishes, anemones and cone snails. The toxic substances in the venom of these animals are mainly of protein and peptide origin. Recent studies have indicated that the single venom may contain up to several hundred different components producing diverse physiological effects. Bites or stings by certain poisonous species result in severe envenomations leading in some cases to death. This raises the problem of bite treatment. The most effective treatment so far is the application of antivenoms. To enhance the effectiveness of such treatments, the knowledge of venom composition is needed. On the other hand, venoms contain substances with unique biological properties, which can be used both in basic science and in clinical applications. The best example of toxin application in basic science is α-bungarotoxin the discovery of which made a big impact on the studies of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Today compositions of venom from many species have already been examined. Based on these data, one can conclude that venoms contain a large number of individual components belonging to a limited number of structural types. Often minor changes in the amino acid sequence give rise to new biological properties. Change in the living conditions of poisonous animals lead to alterations in the composition of venoms resulting in appearance of new toxins. At the same time introduction of new methods of proteomics and genomics lead to discoveries of new compounds, which may serve as research tools or as templates for the development of novel drugs. The application of these sensitive and

  18. Studies on Bee Venom and Its Medical Uses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ali, Mahmoud Abdu Al-Samie Mohamed

    2012-07-01

    Use of honey and other bee products in human treatments traced back thousands of years and healing properties are included in many religious texts including the Veda, Bible and Quran. Apitherapy is the use of honey bee products for medical purposes, this include bee venom, raw honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, and beeswax. Whereas bee venom therapy is the use of live bee stings (or injectable venom) to treat various diseases such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, sciatica, low back pain, and tennis elbow to name a few. It refers to any use of venom to assist the body in healing itself. Bee venom contains at least 18 pharmacologically active components including various enzymes, peptides and amines. Sulfur is believed to be the main element in inducing the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands and in protecting the body from infections. Contact with bee venom produces a complex cascade of reactions in the human body. The bee venom is safe for human treatments, the median lethal dose (LD50) for an adult human is 2.8 mg of venom per kg of body weight, i.e. a person weighing 60 kg has a 50% chance of surviving injections totaling 168 mg of bee venom. Assuming each bee injects all its venom and no stings are quickly removed at a maximum of 0.3 mg venom per sting, 560 stings could well be lethal for such a person. For a child weighing 10 kg, as little as 93.33 stings could be fatal. However, most human deaths result from one or few bee stings due to allergic reactions, heart failure or suffocation from swelling around the neck or the mouth. As compare with other human diseases, accidents and other unusual cases, the bee venom is very safe for human treatments.

  19. Widespread Chemical Detoxification of Alkaloid Venom by Formicine Ants.

    PubMed

    LeBrun, Edward G; Diebold, Peter J; Orr, Matthew R; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2015-10-01

    The ability to detoxify defensive compounds of competitors provides key ecological advantages that can influence community-level processes. Although common in plants and bacteria, this type of detoxification interaction is extremely rare in animals. Here, using laboratory behavioral assays and analyses of videotaped interactions in South America, we report widespread venom detoxification among ants in the subfamily Formicinae. Across both data sets, nine formicine species, representing all major clades, used a stereotyped grooming behavior to self-apply formic acid (acidopore grooming) in response to fire ant (Solenopsis invicta and S. saevissima) venom exposure. In laboratory assays, this behavior increased the survivorship of species following exposure to S. invicta venom. Species expressed the behavior when exposed to additional alkaloid venoms, including both compositionally similar piperidine venom of an additional fire ant species and the pyrrolidine/pyrroline alkaloid venom of a Monomorium species. In addition, species expressed the behavior following exposure to the uncharacterized venom of a Crematogaster species. However, species did not express acidopore grooming when confronted with protein-based ant venoms or when exposed to monoterpenoid-based venom. This pattern, combined with the specific chemistry of the reaction of formic acid with venom alkaloids, indicates that alkaloid venoms are targets of detoxification grooming. Solenopsis thief ants, and Monomorium species stand out as brood-predators of formicine ants that produce piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrroline venom, providing an important ecological context for the use of detoxification behavior. Detoxification behavior also represents a mechanism that can influence the order of assemblage dominance hierarchies surrounding food competition. Thus, this behavior likely influences ant-assemblages through a variety of ecological pathways. PMID:26385230

  20. Anti-necrosis potential of polyphenols against snake venoms.

    PubMed

    Leanpolchareanchai, Jiraporn; Pithayanukul, Pimolpan; Bavovada, Rapepol

    2009-01-01

    Polyphenols from the extracts of Areca catechu L. and Quercus infectoria Oliv. inhibited phospholipase A(2), proteases, hyaluronidase and L-amino acid oxidase of Naja naja kaouthia Lesson (NK) and Calloselasma rhodostoma Kuhl (CR) venoms by in vitro tests. Both extracts inhibited the hemorrhagic activity of CR venom and the dermonecrotic activity of NK venom by in vivo tests. The inhibitory activity of plant polyphenols against local tissue necrosis induced by snake venoms may be caused by inhibition of inflammatory reactions, hemorrhage, and necrosis. The result implies the therapeutic potential of plant polyphenols against necrosis in snakebite victims. PMID:19874222

  1. Diversity of peptide toxins from stinging ant venoms.

    PubMed

    Aili, Samira R; Touchard, Axel; Escoubas, Pierre; Padula, Matthew P; Orivel, Jérôme; Dejean, Alain; Nicholson, Graham M

    2014-12-15

    Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of arthropods comprising nearly 13,000 extant species. Sixteen ant subfamilies have individuals that possess a stinger and use their venom for purposes such as a defence against predators, competitors and microbial pathogens, for predation, as well as for social communication. They exhibit a range of activities including antimicrobial, haemolytic, cytolytic, paralytic, insecticidal and pain-producing pharmacologies. While ant venoms are known to be rich in alkaloids and hydrocarbons, ant venoms rich in peptides are becoming more common, yet remain understudied. Recent advances in mass spectrometry techniques have begun to reveal the true complexity of ant venom peptide composition. In the few venoms explored thus far, most peptide toxins appear to occur as small polycationic linear toxins, with antibacterial properties and insecticidal activity. Unlike other venomous animals, a number of ant venoms also contain a range of homodimeric and heterodimeric peptides with one or two interchain disulfide bonds possessing pore-forming, allergenic and paralytic actions. However, ant venoms seem to have only a small number of monomeric disulfide-linked peptides. The present review details the structure and pharmacology of known ant venom peptide toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:25448389

  2. Duration of Loxosceles reclusa Venom Detection by ELISA from Swabs

    PubMed Central

    McGLASSON, DAVID L; GREEN, JONATHON A; STOECKER, WILLIAM V; BABCOCK, JAMES L; CALCARA, DAVID A

    2011-01-01

    BACKGROUND Diagnosis of Loxosceles reclusa envenomations is currently based upon clinical presentation. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) can detect surface Loxosceles venom at the envenomation site, allowing diagnostic confirmation. The length of time that venom on the skin is recoverable non-invasively is unknown. MATERIALS AND METHODS To investigate duration of recoverable venom antigen, whole venom and fractionated sphingomyelinase D venom aliquots were injected subcutaneously in New Zealand White rabbits. Cotton and Dacron swabs were compared for venom recovery over a 21-day period using a surface swab technique. RESULTS Significant amounts of Loxosceles reclusa antigen were found on the surface of rabbit skin after experimental injection of whole venom and sphingomyelinase D. The duration of recoverable antigen using this experimental model appears to be at least two weeks and as long as 21 days in some cases. CONCLUSIONS Because the duration of the recoverable antigen is seen to be at least two weeks, the ELISA venom test appears capable of detecting venom on most patients presenting with Loxosceles envenomations. This detection system will allow the physician more accurate determination of whether the lesion is from a brown recluse spider or some other agent that can cause this type of necrotic ulcer. PMID:19967916

  3. Venom Proteins from Parasitoid Wasps and Their Biological Functions

    PubMed Central

    Moreau, Sébastien J. M.; Asgari, Sassan

    2015-01-01

    Parasitoid wasps are valuable biological control agents that suppress their host populations. Factors introduced by the female wasp at parasitization play significant roles in facilitating successful development of the parasitoid larva either inside (endoparasitoid) or outside (ectoparasitoid) the host. Wasp venoms consist of a complex cocktail of proteinacious and non-proteinacious components that may offer agrichemicals as well as pharmaceutical components to improve pest management or health related disorders. Undesirably, the constituents of only a small number of wasp venoms are known. In this article, we review the latest research on venom from parasitoid wasps with an emphasis on their biological function, applications and new approaches used in venom studies. PMID:26131769

  4. Chemical Punch Packed in Venoms Makes Centipedes Excellent Predators*

    PubMed Central

    Yang, Shilong; Liu, Zhonghua; Xiao, Yao; Li, Yuan; Rong, Mingqiang; Liang, Songping; Zhang, Zhiye; Yu, Haining; King, Glenn F.; Lai, Ren

    2012-01-01

    Centipedes are excellent predatory arthropods that inject venom to kill or immobilize their prey. Although centipedes have long been known to be venomous, their venoms remain largely unexplored. The chemical components responsible for centipede predation and the functional mechanisms are unknown. Twenty-six neurotoxin-like peptides belonging to ten groups were identified from the centipede venoms, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans L. Koch by peptidomics combined with transcriptome analysis, revealing the diversity of neurotoxins. These neurotoxins each contain two to four intramolecular disulfide bridges, and in most cases the disulfide framework is different from that found in neurotoxins from the venoms of spiders, scorpions, marine cone snails, sea anemones, and snakes (5S animals). Several neurotoxins contain potential insecticidal abilities, and they are found to act on voltage-gated sodium, potassium, and calcium channels, respectively. Although these neurotoxins are functionally similar to the disulfide-rich neurotoxins found in the venoms of 5S animals in that they modulate the activity of voltage-gated ion channels, in almost all cases the primary structures of the centipede venom peptides are unique. This represents an interesting case of convergent evolution in which different venomous animals have evolved different molecular strategies for targeting the same ion channels in prey and predators. Moreover, the high level of biochemical diversity revealed in this study suggests that centipede venoms might be attractive subjects for prospecting and screening for peptide candidates with potential pharmaceutical or agrochemical applications. PMID:22595790

  5. Putative cardiotoxicity of the venoms of three mamba species.

    PubMed

    van Aswegen, G; van Rooyen, J M; Fourie, C; Oberholzer, G

    1996-05-01

    The venoms of all mamba species are known to contain potent neurotoxins. Some authors suggest that cardiotoxins from mamba venom are responsible for heart failure in envenomated patients. This study was undertaken to come to a better understanding of the mechanisms and possible effects of mamba venom on the hearts of animals. The venoms of three mamba species namely Dendroaspis polylepis, Dendroaspis angusticeps, and Dendroaspis jamesoni were screened for cardiotoxicity by the cardiomyocyte viability test on cardiomyocytes isolated enzymatically from guinea pig ventricle muscle. This analysis was followed by an electrophysiological evaluation of the effects of venoms (from the Dendroaspis species) on cardiac ion channels by employing the whole-cell clamp procedure. In this study the cardiomyocyte viability test indicates differences among the venoms of the three mamba species. The venom of D. jamesoni seems to be the most potent followed by D. angusticeps and then D. polylepis. The whole-cell clamp results indicate that the venoms have no affinity for cardiac potassium channels but have an inhibitory influence on cardiac L-calcium channels. Although this study provides evidence that mamba venoms have a specific effect on isolated myocytes of guinea pig, it is doubtful that it will have a profound influence on a human heart in case of envenomation. PMID:11990104

  6. Decahydroquinolines from the venom of a formicinae ant, Oecophylla smaragdina.

    PubMed

    Das, Priya; Dileepkumar, R; Anaswara Krishnan, S; Nair, Achuthsankar S; Dhar, Pawan K; Oommen, Oommen V

    2014-12-15

    Ecologically significant species in controlling pests, Oecophylla smaragdina uses its venom to paralyze their prey and to communicate with their colony mates. But no significant analysis of the ant's venom gland secretions has been carried out hitherto. This study describes the identification of venom constituents of Oecophylla smaragdina using coupled gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy (GC-MS) analysis. The results indicate the anticipated presence of a neurotoxin i.e., 2, 5 dipropyl decahydroquinoline and phenol, 2, 4-bis (1, 1 dimethylethyl). This is the first report on presence of decahydroquinolines in the venom of formicinae ant species of genera Oecophylla. PMID:25286394

  7. Solution Structures of Two Homologous Venom Peptides from Sicarius dolichocephalus

    PubMed Central

    Loening, Nikolaus M.; Wilson, Zachary N.; Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A.; Binford, Greta J.

    2013-01-01

    We present solution-state NMR structures for two putative venom peptides from Sicarius dolichocephalus. These peptides were identified from cDNA libraries created from venom gland mRNA and then recombinantly expressed. They are the first structures from any species of Sicarius spiders, and the first peptide structures for any haplogyne spiders. These peptides are homologous to one another, and while they have at most only 20% sequence identity with known venom peptides their structures follow the inhibitor cystine knot motif that has been found in a broad range of venom peptides. PMID:23342149

  8. [Use of medicinal plants against scorpionic and ophidian venoms].

    PubMed

    Memmi, A; Sansa, G; Rjeibi, I; El Ayeb, M; Srairi-Abid, N; Bellasfer, Z; Fekhih, A

    2007-01-01

    The scorpionic and ophidian envenomations are a serious public health problem in Tunisia especially in Southeastern regions. In these regions Artemisia campestris L is a plant well known which has a very important place in traditional medicine for its effectiveness against alleged venom of scorpions and snakes. In this work, we tested for the first time, the anti-venomous activity of Artemisia campestris L against the scorpion Androctonus australis garzonii and the viper Macrovipera lebetina venoms. Assays were conducted by fixing the dose of extract to3 mg/mouse while doses of venom are variable. The leaves of Artemisia campestris L were extracted by various organic solvents (Ether of oil, ethyl acetate, methanol and ethanol) and each extract was tested for its venom neutralizing capacity. For the ethanolic extract, a significant activity with respect to the venoms of scorpion Androctonus australis garzonii (Aag), was detected. Similarly, a significant neutralizing activity against the venom of a viper Macrovipera lebetina (Ml), was obtained with the dichloromethane extract. These results suggest the presence of two different type of chemical components in this plant: those neutralizing the venom of scorpion are soluble in ethanol whereas those neutralizing the venom of viper are soluble in dichloromethane. PMID:19388583

  9. Observations on white and yellow venoms from an individual southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri).

    PubMed

    Johnson, E K; Kardong, K V; Ownby, C L

    1987-01-01

    Biochemical differences in white and yellow venoms produced in the separate venom glands of an individual southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri) were investigated. Compared to the yellow venom, the white venom contained fewer low molecular weight components and was considerably less toxic. Although the exact LD50 was not determined, the white venom did not produce toxic effects in mice when injected i.v. at concentrations up to 10 mg/kg. The i.v. LD50 of the yellow venom was approximately 1.6 mg/kg. Both white and yellow venoms had hemorrhagic activity, but the white venom caused less intradermal hemorrhage in mice. No L-amino acid oxidase activity was measured in the white venom and protease and phospholipase A2 activities of the white venom were much less than in the yellow venom. The white and yellow venoms both produced myonecrosis at 1, 3 and 24 hr after i.m. injection into mice, however, there were some qualitative differences in the myonecrosis produced. When the venom samples were reacted against Wyeth's polyvalent (Crotalidae) antivenom using immunodiffusion, three precipitin bands formed against the yellow venom, whereas only one formed against the white venom. When reacted against an antiserum to myotoxin alpha from C. viridis viridis venom, both the white and yellow venoms produced one precipitin band each. PMID:3124297

  10. Protease inhibitors from marine venomous animals and their counterparts in terrestrial venomous animals.

    PubMed

    Mourão, Caroline B F; Schwartz, Elisabeth F

    2013-06-01

    The Kunitz-type protease inhibitors are the best-characterized family of serine protease inhibitors, probably due to their abundance in several organisms. These inhibitors consist of a chain of ~60 amino acid residues stabilized by three disulfide bridges, and was first observed in the bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI)-like protease inhibitors, which strongly inhibit trypsin and chymotrypsin. In this review we present the protease inhibitors (PIs) described to date from marine venomous animals, such as from sea anemone extracts and Conus venom, as well as their counterparts in terrestrial venomous animals, such as snakes, scorpions, spiders, Anurans, and Hymenopterans. More emphasis was given to the Kunitz-type inhibitors, once they are found in all these organisms. Their biological sources, specificity against different proteases, and other molecular blanks (being also K+ channel blockers) are presented, followed by their molecular diversity. Whereas sea anemone, snakes and other venomous animals present mainly Kunitz-type inhibitors, PIs from Anurans present the major variety in structure length and number of Cys residues, with at least six distinguishable classes. A representative alignment of PIs from these venomous animals shows that, despite eventual differences in Cys assignment, the key-residues for the protease inhibitory activity in all of them occupy similar positions in primary sequence. The key-residues for the K+ channel blocking activity was also compared. PMID:23771044

  11. Coevolution of venom function and venom resistance in a rattlesnake predator and its squirrel prey.

    PubMed

    Holding, Matthew L; Biardi, James E; Gibbs, H Lisle

    2016-04-27

    Measuring local adaptation can provide insights into how coevolution occurs between predators and prey. Specifically, theory predicts that local adaptation in functionally matched traits of predators and prey will not be detected when coevolution is governed by escalating arms races, whereas it will be present when coevolution occurs through an alternate mechanism of phenotype matching. Here, we analyse local adaptation in venom activity and prey resistance across 12 populations of Northern Pacific rattlesnakes and California ground squirrels, an interaction that has often been described as an arms race. Assays of venom function and squirrel resistance show substantial geographical variation (influenced by site elevation) in both venom metalloproteinase activity and resistance factor effectiveness. We demonstrate local adaptation in the effectiveness of rattlesnake venom to overcoming present squirrel resistance, suggesting that phenotype matching plays a role in the coevolution of these molecular traits. Further, the predator was the locally adapted antagonist in this interaction, arguing that rattlesnakes are evolutionarily ahead of their squirrel prey. Phenotype matching needs to be considered as an important mechanism influencing coevolution between venomous animals and resistant prey. PMID:27122552

  12. Protease Inhibitors from Marine Venomous Animals and Their Counterparts in Terrestrial Venomous Animals

    PubMed Central

    Mourão, Caroline B.F.; Schwartz, Elisabeth F.

    2013-01-01

    The Kunitz-type protease inhibitors are the best-characterized family of serine protease inhibitors, probably due to their abundance in several organisms. These inhibitors consist of a chain of ~60 amino acid residues stabilized by three disulfide bridges, and was first observed in the bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI)-like protease inhibitors, which strongly inhibit trypsin and chymotrypsin. In this review we present the protease inhibitors (PIs) described to date from marine venomous animals, such as from sea anemone extracts and Conus venom, as well as their counterparts in terrestrial venomous animals, such as snakes, scorpions, spiders, Anurans, and Hymenopterans. More emphasis was given to the Kunitz-type inhibitors, once they are found in all these organisms. Their biological sources, specificity against different proteases, and other molecular blanks (being also K+ channel blockers) are presented, followed by their molecular diversity. Whereas sea anemone, snakes and other venomous animals present mainly Kunitz-type inhibitors, PIs from Anurans present the major variety in structure length and number of Cys residues, with at least six distinguishable classes. A representative alignment of PIs from these venomous animals shows that, despite eventual differences in Cys assignment, the key-residues for the protease inhibitory activity in all of them occupy similar positions in primary sequence. The key-residues for the K+ channel blocking activity was also compared. PMID:23771044

  13. Proteome and allergenome of Asian wasp, Vespa affinis, venom and IgE reactivity of the venom components.

    PubMed

    Sookrung, Nitat; Wong-din-Dam, Siriporn; Tungtrongchitr, Anchalee; Reamtong, Onrapak; Indrawattana, Nitaya; Sakolvaree, Yuwaporn; Visitsunthorn, Nualanong; Manuyakorn, Wiparat; Chaicumpa, Wanpen

    2014-03-01

    Vespa affinis (Asian wasp, Thai banded tiger wasp, or local name: Tor Hua Seua) causes the most frequent incidence of medically important Hymenoptera sting in South and Southeast Asia. However, data on the venom components attributable to the sting derived-clinical manifestations (local reactions, IgE mediated-anaphylaxis, or systemic envenomation) are lacking. This study provides the first set information on V. affinis venom proteome, allergenome, and IgE reactivity of individual venom components. From 2DE-gel based-proteomics, the venom revealed 93 protein spots, of which proteins in 51 spots could be identified and classified into three groups: typical venom components and structural and housekeeping proteins. Venom proteins in 32 spots reacted with serum IgE of wasp allergic patients. Major allergenic proteins that reacted to IgE of >50% of the wasp allergic patients included PLA1 (100%), arginine kinase (73%), heat shock 70 kDa protein (73.3%), venom allergen-5 (66.7%), enolase (66.7%), PLA1 magnifin (60%), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (60%), hyaluronidase (53.3%), and fructose-bisphosphate aldolase (53.3%). The venom minor allergens were GB17876 transcript (40%), GB17291 transcript (20%), malic enzyme (13.3%), aconitate hydratase (6.7%), and phosphoglucomutase (6.7%). The information has diagnostic and clinical implications for future improvement of case diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, component-resolve diagnosis, and design of specific Hymenoptera venom immunotherapy. PMID:24437991

  14. Pathophysiological effects of Cerastes cerastes and Vipera lebetina venoms: Immunoneutralization using anti-native and anti-(60)Co irradiated venoms.

    PubMed

    Boumaiza, Sabrina; Oussedik-Oumehdi, Habiba; Laraba-Djebari, Fatima

    2016-01-01

    Cerastes cerastes and Vipera lebetina are the most medically important vipers in Algeria. Their bite induces several pathological effects on victims of accidental envenomation. In this study we analyzed the pathogenesis induced after an experimental envenomation. Indeed, we determined, in vitro, venom enzymatic activities and we analyzed, in vivo, pathological effects induced on liver, heart, lung and skin. In addition we investigated the neutralizing potency of four experimental antivenoms elicited against native and irradiated venoms. Results revealed that V. lebetina and Cerastes cerastes venoms presented strong hemorrhagic, oedematic and necrotic activities. Histopathological study showed that both venoms induced deep damage in tissue structures leading to organ dysfunction. They also increased cellular peroxidases activities, indicating an inflammatory process that is known to amplify tissue damage. Western-blot analysis evidenced that anti-irradiated venoms recognized most components of native venoms. Antivenoms were effective in neutralizing all tested activities, with an increased protective effect obtained with anti-irradiated venoms. Anti-irradiated venoms reduced cellular peroxidases activities indicating a reduction of the inflammatory response. These results may improve our understanding of Algerian Viperidae bite pathogenesis and would encourage further studies planning to provide more proofs on the effectiveness of anti-irradiated venoms administration in the treatment of envenomation. PMID:26678662

  15. Species List of Alaskan Birds, Mammals, Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Invertebrates. Alaska Region Report Number 82.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Taylor, Tamra Faris

    This publication contains a detailed list of the birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates found in Alaska. Part I lists the species by geographical regions. Part II lists the species by the ecological regions of the state. (CO)

  16. Can reptile embryos influence their own rates of heating and cooling?

    PubMed

    Du, Wei-Guo; Tu, Ming-Chung; Radder, Rajkumar S; Shine, Richard

    2013-01-01

    Previous investigations have assumed that embryos lack the capacity of physiological thermoregulation until they are large enough for their own metabolic heat production to influence nest temperatures. Contrary to intuition, reptile embryos may be capable of physiological thermoregulation. In our experiments, egg-sized objects (dead or infertile eggs, water-filled balloons, glass jars) cooled down more rapidly than they heated up, whereas live snake eggs heated more rapidly than they cooled. In a nest with diel thermal fluctuations, that hysteresis could increase the embryo's effective incubation temperature. The mechanisms for controlling rates of thermal exchange are unclear, but may involve facultative adjustment of blood flow. Heart rates of snake embryos were higher during cooling than during heating, the opposite pattern to that seen in adult reptiles. Our data challenge the view of reptile eggs as thermally passive, and suggest that embryos of reptile species with large eggs can influence their own rates of heating and cooling. PMID:23826200

  17. Effects of gamma radiation on snake venoms

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nascimento, N.; Spencer, P. J.; Andrade, H. F.; Guarnieri, M. C.; Rogero, J. R.

    1998-06-01

    Ionizing radiation is able to detoxify several venoms, including snake venoms, without affecting significantly their immunogenic properties. Inn order to elucidate this phenomena, we conceived a comparative pharmacological study between native and irradiated (2,000 Gy) crotoxin, the main toxin of the South American rattlesnake Crotalus durissus terrificus. Crotoxin was isolated and purified by molecular exclusion chromatography, pI precipitation and, susbequentely submitted to irradiaiton. Gel filtration of the irradiated toxin resulted in some high molecular weight aggregates formation. Crotoxin toxicity decreased two folds after irradiation, as determined by LD 50 in mice. Native and irradiated crotoxin biodistribution ocured in the same general manner, with renal elimination. However, in contrast to irradiated crotoxin, the native form was initially retained in kidneys. A later concentration (2-3 hr) appeared in phagocytic mononuclear cells rich organs (liver and spleen) and neural junction rich organs (muscle and brain).

  18. Important biological activities induced by Thalassophryne maculosa fish venom.

    PubMed

    Sosa-Rosales, Josefina Ines; Piran-Soares, Ana Amélia; Farsky, Sandra H P; Takehara, Harumi Ando; Lima, Carla; Lopes-Ferreira, Mônica

    2005-02-01

    The accidents caused by Thalassophryne maculosa fish venoms are frequent and represent a public health problem in some regions of Venezuela. Most accidents occur in the fishing communities and tourists. The clinical picture is characterized by severe pain, dizziness, fever, edema, and necrosis. Due to the lack of efficient therapy it may take weeks, or even months for complete recovery of the victims. The investigations presented here were undertaken to assess the eletrophoretical profile and principal biological properties of the T. maculosa venom. Venom obtained from fresh captured specimens of this fish was tested in vitro or in animal models for a better characterization of its toxic activities. In contrast to other fish venoms, T. maculosa venom showed relative low LD50. The injection of venom in the footpad of mice reproduced a local inflammatory lesion similar to that described in humans. Significant increase of the nociceptive and edematogenic responses was observed followed within 48 h by necrosis. Pronounced alterations on microvascular hemodynamics were visualized after venom application. These alterations were represented by fibrin depots and thrombus formation followed by complete venular stasis and transient arteriolar contraction. T. maculosa venom is devoid of phospholipase A2 activity, but the venom showed proteolytic and myotoxic activities. SDS-Page analysis of the crude venom showed important bands: one band located above 97 M(w), one band between 68 and 97 M(w), one major band between 29 and 43 M(w) and the last one located below 18.4 M(w) Then, the results presented here support that T. maculosa venom present a mixture of bioactive toxins involved in a local inflammatory lesion. PMID:15626364

  19. Salmonella infection in healthy pet reptiles: Bacteriological isolation and study of some pathogenic characters.

    PubMed

    Bertelloni, Fabrizio; Chemaly, Marianne; Cerri, Domenico; Gall, Françoise Le; Ebani, Valentina Virginia

    2016-06-01

    The fecal samples from 213 captive reptiles were examined, and 29 (13.61%) Salmonella enterica isolates were detected: 14/62 (22.58%) from chelonians, 14/135 (10.37%) from saurians, and 1/16 (6.25%) from ophidians. The isolates were distributed among 14 different serotypes: Miami, Ebrie, Hermannsweder, Tiergarten, Tornov, Pomona, Poona, Goteborg, Abaetetube, Nyanza, Kumasi, Typhimurium, 50:b:z6, 9,12:z29:1,5, and a non-motile serotype with antigenic formula 1,4,[5],12:-:-. Salmonella typhimurium and 50:b:z6 isolates showed the spv plasmid virulence genes, responsible of the capability to induce extra-intestinal infections. In some cases, pulsed field gel electrophoresis revealed different profiles for the strains of the same serotypes, showing different origins, whereas a common source of infection was supposed when one pulsotype had been observed for isolates of a serovar. Twenty-seven (93.10%) isolates showed resistance to one or more antibiotics. Ceftazidime was active to all the tested isolates, whereas the highest percentages of strains were no susceptible to tigecycline (93.10%), streptomycin (89.66%), and sulfonamide (86.21%). PMID:27352973

  20. Sox2 marks epithelial competence to generate teeth in mammals and reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Juuri, Emma; Jussila, Maria; Seidel, Kerstin; Holmes, Scott; Wu, Ping; Richman, Joy; Heikinheimo, Kristiina; Chuong, Cheng-Ming; Arnold, Katrin; Hochedlinger, Konrad; Klein, Ophir; Michon, Frederic; Thesleff, Irma

    2013-01-01

    Tooth renewal is initiated from epithelium associated with existing teeth. The development of new teeth requires dental epithelial cells that have competence for tooth formation, but specific marker genes for these cells have not been identified. Here, we analyzed expression patterns of the transcription factor Sox2 in two different modes of successional tooth formation: tooth replacement and serial addition of primary teeth. We observed specific Sox2 expression in the dental lamina that gives rise to successional teeth in mammals with one round of tooth replacement as well as in reptiles with continuous tooth replacement. Sox2 was also expressed in the dental lamina during serial addition of mammalian molars, and genetic lineage tracing indicated that Sox2+ cells of the first molar give rise to the epithelial cell lineages of the second and third molars. Moreover, conditional deletion of Sox2 resulted in hyperplastic epithelium in the forming posterior molars. Our results indicate that the Sox2+ dental epithelium has competence for successional tooth formation and that Sox2 regulates the progenitor state of dental epithelial cells. The findings imply that the function of Sox2 has been conserved during evolution and that tooth replacement and serial addition of primary teeth represent variations of the same developmental process. The expression patterns of Sox2 support the hypothesis that dormant capacity for continuous tooth renewal exists in mammals. PMID:23462476

  1. Evidence for the transmission of Salmonella from reptiles to children in Germany, July 2010 to October 2011.

    PubMed

    Pees, M; Rabsch, W; Plenz, B; Fruth, A; Prager, R; Simon, S; Schmidt, V; Munch, S; Braun, Pg

    2013-01-01

    This study examines the Salmonella status in reptiles kept in households with children suffering from gastroenteritis due to an exotic Salmonella serovar, to obtain information on possible transmission paths. A number of affected households (n=79) were contacted, and almost half (34/79) comprised at least one reptile in the home. Of the households, 19 were further studied, whereby a total of 36 reptiles were investigated. Samples were taken from the reptiles including the oral cavity, the cloaca, the skin and, in the case of lizards, the stomach, and isolation of Salmonella strains was performed using repeated enrichment and typing. Where the Salmonella serovars of the infected child and the reptile were identical, typing was followed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) constituted 19 of 36 examined reptiles. Altogether 319 Salmonella isolates were investigated and 24 different serovars identified in the reptiles. In 15 of 19 households, an identical serovar to the human case was confirmed in at least one reptile (including 16 of all 19 bearded dragons examined). The results demonstrate that reptiles and especially bearded dragons shed various Salmonella serovars including those isolated from infected children in the respective households. Hygiene protocols and parents' education are therefore highly necessary to reduce the risk of transmission. From a terminological point of view, we propose to call such infections 'Reptile-Exotic-Pet-Associated-Salmonellosis' (REPAS). PMID:24256890

  2. Comparative study of anticoagulant and procoagulant properties of 28 snake venoms from families Elapidae, Viperidae, and purified Russell's viper venom-factor X activator (RVV-X).

    PubMed

    Suntravat, Montamas; Nuchprayoon, Issarang; Pérez, John C

    2010-09-15

    Snake venoms consist of numerous molecules with diverse biological functions used for capturing prey. Each component of venom has a specific target, and alters the biological function of its target. Once these molecules are identified, characterized, and cloned; they could have medical applications. The activated clotting time (ACT) and clot rate were used for screening procoagulant and anticoagulant properties of 28 snake venoms. Crude venoms from Daboia russellii siamensis, Bothrops asper, Bothrops moojeni, and one Crotalus oreganus helleri from Wrightwood, CA, had procoagulant activity. These venoms induced a significant shortening of the ACT and showed a significant increase in the clot rate when compared to the negative control. Factor X activator activity was also measured in 28 venoms, and D. r. siamensis venom was 5-6 times higher than those of B. asper, B. moojeni, and C. o. helleri from Wrightwood County. Russell's viper venom-factor X activator (RVV-X) was purified from D. r. siamensis venom, and then procoagulant activity was evaluated by the ACT and clot rate. Other venoms, Crotalus atrox and two Naja pallida, had anticoagulant activity. A significant increase in the ACT and a significant decrease in the clot rate were observed after the addition of these venoms; therefore, the venoms were considered to have anticoagulant activity. Venoms from the same species did not always have the same ACT and clot rate profiles, but the profiles were an excellent way to identify procoagulant and anticoagulant activities in snake venoms. PMID:20677373

  3. Assessing effects of pesticides on amphibians and reptiles: status and needs

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hall, R.J.; Henry, P.F.P.

    1992-01-01

    Growing concern about the decline of certain amphibian populations and for conservation of amphibians and reptiles has led to renewed awareness of problems from pesticides. Testing amphibians and reptiles as a requirement for chemical registration has been proposed but is difficult because of the phylogenetic diversity of these groups. Information from the literature and research may determine whether amphibians and reptiles are adequately protected by current tests for mammals, birds, and fish. Existing information indicates that amphibians are unpredictably more resistant to certain cholinesterase inhibitors, and more sensitive to two chemicals used in fishery applications than could have been predicted. A single study on one species of lizard suggests that reptiles may be close in sensitivity to mammals and birds. Research on effects of pesticides on amphibians and reptiles should compare responses to currently tested groups and should seek to delineate those taxa and chemicals for which cross-group prediction is not possible. New tests for amphibians and reptiles should rely to the greatest extent possible on existing data bases, and should be designed for maximum economy and minimum harm to test animals. A strategy for developing the needed information is proposed. Good field testing and surveillance of chemicals in use may compensate for failures of predictive evaluations and may ultimately lead to improved tests.

  4. Reptile assemblage response to restoration of fire-suppressed longleaf pine sandhills.

    PubMed

    Steen, David A; Smith, Lora L; Conner, L M; Litt, Andrea R; Provencher, Louis; Hiers, J Kevin; Pokswinski, Scott; Guyer, Craig

    2013-01-01

    Measuring the effects of ecological restoration on wildlife assemblages requires study on broad temporal and spatial scales. Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests are imperiled due to fire suppression and subsequent invasion by hardwood trees. We employed a landscape-scale, randomized-block design to identify how reptile assemblages initially responded to restoration treatments including removal of hardwood trees via mechanical methods (felling and girdling), application of herbicides, or prescribed burning alone. Then, we examined reptile assemblages after all sites experienced more than a decade of prescribed burning at two- to thee-year return intervals. Data were collected concurrently at reference sites chosen to represent target conditions for restoration. Reptile assemblages changed most rapidly in response to prescribed burning, but reptile assemblages at all sites, including reference sites, were generally indistinguishable by the end of the study. Thus, we suggest that prescribed burning in longleaf pine forests over long time periods is an effective strategy for restoring reptile assemblages to the reference condition. Application of herbicides or mechanical removal of hardwood trees provided no apparent benefit to reptiles beyond what was achieved by prescribed fire alone. PMID:23495643

  5. Venomous fish stings in tropical northern Australia.

    PubMed

    Isbister, G K

    2001-11-01

    Venomous fish stings are a common environment hazard worldwide. This study investigated the clinical effects and treatment of venomous fish stings. A prospective observational case series of patients presenting with venomous fish stings was conducted in tropical northern Australia. Twenty-two fish stings were included; subjects were 3 females and 19 males; mean age 35 (range 10-63). 9 by stingrays, 8 by catfish, 1 by a stonefish, 1 by a silver scat (Selenotocota multifasciata), and 3 by unknown fish. All patients had severe pain, but less commonly erythema, 3 cases (14%); swelling, 7 cases (33%); bleeding, 5 cases (24%); numbness, 4 cases (19%); and radiating pain, 3 cases (14%). Mild systemic effects occurred in one stingray injury. Treatment included hot water immersion, which was completely effective in 73% of cases, analgesia, wound exploration and prophylactic antibiotics. Stingray injuries should be explored and debrided with large wounds, while other stings only need appropriate cleaning. The routine use of antibiotics is not recommended. PMID:11699001

  6. Detection of Snake Venom in Post-Antivenom Samples by Dissociation Treatment Followed by Enzyme Immunoassay

    PubMed Central

    Maduwage, Kalana P.; O’Leary, Margaret A.; Silva, Anjana; Isbister, Geoffrey K.

    2016-01-01

    Venom detection is crucial for confirmation of envenomation and snake type in snake-bite patients. Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is used to detect venom, but antivenom in samples prevents venom detection. We aimed to detect snake venom in post-antivenom samples after dissociating venom-antivenom complexes with glycine-HCl (pH 2.2) and heating for 30 min at 950 °C. Serum samples underwent dissociation treatment and then Russell’s viper venom or Australian elapid venom measured by EIA. In confirmed Russell’s viper bites with venom detected pre-antivenom (positive controls), no venom was detected in untreated post-antivenom samples, but was after dissociation treatment. In 104 non-envenomed patients (negative controls), no venom was detected after dissociation treatment. In suspected Russell’s viper bites, ten patients with no pre-antivenom samples had venom detected in post-antivenom samples after dissociation treatment. In 20 patients with no venom detected pre-antivenom, 13 had venom detected post-antivenom after dissociation treatment. In another 85 suspected Russell’s viper bites with no venom detected pre-antivenom, 50 had venom detected after dissociation treatment. Dissociation treatment was also successful for Australian snake envenomation including taipan, mulga, tiger snake and brown snake. Snake venom can be detected by EIA in post-antivenom samples after dissociation treatment allowing confirmation of diagnosis of envenomation post-antivenom. PMID:27136587

  7. Chem I Supplement: Bee Sting: The Chemistry of an Insect Venom.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    O'Connor, Rod; Peck, Larry

    1980-01-01

    Considers various aspects of bee stings including the physical mechanism of the venom apparatus in the bee, categorization of physiological responses of nonprotected individuals to bee sting, chemical composition of bee venom and the mechanisms of venom action, and areas of interest in the synthesis of bee venom. (CS)

  8. Detection of Snake Venom in Post-Antivenom Samples by Dissociation Treatment Followed by Enzyme Immunoassay.

    PubMed

    Maduwage, Kalana P; O'Leary, Margaret A; Silva, Anjana; Isbister, Geoffrey K

    2016-01-01

    Venom detection is crucial for confirmation of envenomation and snake type in snake-bite patients. Enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is used to detect venom, but antivenom in samples prevents venom detection. We aimed to detect snake venom in post-antivenom samples after dissociating venom-antivenom complexes with glycine-HCl (pH 2.2) and heating for 30 min at 950 °C. Serum samples underwent dissociation treatment and then Russell's viper venom or Australian elapid venom measured by EIA. In confirmed Russell's viper bites with venom detected pre-antivenom (positive controls), no venom was detected in untreated post-antivenom samples, but was after dissociation treatment. In 104 non-envenomed patients (negative controls), no venom was detected after dissociation treatment. In suspected Russell's viper bites, ten patients with no pre-antivenom samples had venom detected in post-antivenom samples after dissociation treatment. In 20 patients with no venom detected pre-antivenom, 13 had venom detected post-antivenom after dissociation treatment. In another 85 suspected Russell's viper bites with no venom detected pre-antivenom, 50 had venom detected after dissociation treatment. Dissociation treatment was also successful for Australian snake envenomation including taipan, mulga, tiger snake and brown snake. Snake venom can be detected by EIA in post-antivenom samples after dissociation treatment allowing confirmation of diagnosis of envenomation post-antivenom. PMID:27136587

  9. Nucleotidase and DNase activities in Brazilian snake venoms.

    PubMed

    Sales, Paulo Bruno Valadão; Santoro, Marcelo L

    2008-01-01

    Among the myriad of enzymes present in animal venoms, nucleotidases and nucleases are poorly investigated. Herein, we studied such enzymes in 28 crude venoms of animals found in Brazil. Higher levels of ATPase, 5'-nucleotidase, ADPase, phosphodiesterase and DNase activities were observed in snake venoms belonging to Bothrops, Crotalus and Lachesis genera than to Micrurus genus. The venom of Bothrops brazili snake showed the highest nucleotidase and DNase activities, whereas that of Micrurus frontalis snake the highest alkaline phosphatase activity. On the other hand, the venoms of the snake Philodryas olfersii and the spider Loxosceles gaucho were devoid of most nucleotidase and DNase activities. Species that exhibited similar nucleotidase activities by colorimetric assays showed different banding pattern by zymography, suggesting the occurrence of structural differences among them. Hydrolysis of nucleotides showed that 1 mol of ATP is cleaved in 1 mol of pyrophosphate and 1 mol of orthophosphate, whereas 1 mol of ADP is cleaved exclusively in 2 mol of orthophosphates. Pyrophosphate is barely hydrolyzed by snake venoms. Phosphodiesterase activity was better correlated with 5'-nucleotidase, ADPase and ATPase activities than with DNase activity, evidencing that phosphodiesterases are not the main agent of DNA hydrolysis in animal venoms. The omnipresence of nucleotidase and DNase activities in viperid venoms implies a role for them within the repertoire of enzymes involved in immobilization and death of preys. PMID:17904425

  10. Recent Advances in Research on Widow Spider Venoms and Toxins.

    PubMed

    Yan, Shuai; Wang, Xianchun

    2015-12-01

    Widow spiders have received much attention due to the frequently reported human and animal injures caused by them. Elucidation of the molecular composition and action mechanism of the venoms and toxins has vast implications in the treatment of latrodectism and in the neurobiology and pharmaceutical research. In recent years, the studies of the widow spider venoms and the venom toxins, particularly the α-latrotoxin, have achieved many new advances; however, the mechanism of action of the venom toxins has not been completely clear. The widow spider is different from many other venomous animals in that it has toxic components not only in the venom glands but also in other parts of the adult spider body, newborn spiderlings, and even the eggs. More recently, the molecular basis for the toxicity outside the venom glands has been systematically investigated, with four proteinaceous toxic components being purified and preliminarily characterized, which has expanded our understanding of the widow spider toxins. This review presents a glance at the recent advances in the study on the venoms and toxins from the Latrodectus species. PMID:26633495

  11. Analysis of scorpion venom composition by Raman Spectroscopy

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martínez-Zérega, Brenda E.; González-Solís, José L.

    2015-01-01

    In this work we study the venom of two Centruroides scorpion species using Raman spectroscopy. The spectra analysis allows to determine the venoms chemical composition and to establish the main differences and similarities among the species. It is also shown that the use of Principal Component Analysis may help to tell apart between the scorpion species.

  12. Recent Advances in Research on Widow Spider Venoms and Toxins

    PubMed Central

    Yan, Shuai; Wang, Xianchun

    2015-01-01

    Widow spiders have received much attention due to the frequently reported human and animal injures caused by them. Elucidation of the molecular composition and action mechanism of the venoms and toxins has vast implications in the treatment of latrodectism and in the neurobiology and pharmaceutical research. In recent years, the studies of the widow spider venoms and the venom toxins, particularly the α-latrotoxin, have achieved many new advances; however, the mechanism of action of the venom toxins has not been completely clear. The widow spider is different from many other venomous animals in that it has toxic components not only in the venom glands but also in other parts of the adult spider body, newborn spiderlings, and even the eggs. More recently, the molecular basis for the toxicity outside the venom glands has been systematically investigated, with four proteinaceous toxic components being purified and preliminarily characterized, which has expanded our understanding of the widow spider toxins. This review presents a glance at the recent advances in the study on the venoms and toxins from the Latrodectus species. PMID:26633495

  13. Discovery by proteogenomics and characterization of an RF-amide neuropeptide from cone snail venom

    PubMed Central

    Robinson, Samuel D.; Safavi-Hemami, Helena; Raghuraman, Shrinivasan; Imperial, Julita S.; Papenfuss, Anthony T.; Teichert, Russell W.; Purcell, Anthony W.; Olivera, Baldomero M.; Norton, Raymond S.

    2015-01-01

    In this study, a proteogenomic annotation strategy was used to identify a novel bioactive peptide from the venom of the predatory marine snail Conus victoriae. The peptide, conorfamide-Vc1 (CNF-Vc1), defines a new gene family. The encoded mature peptide was unusual for conotoxins in that it was cysteine-free and, despite low overall sequence similarity, contained two short motifs common to known neuropeptides/hormones. One of these was the C-terminal RF-amide motif, commonly observed in neuropeptides from a range of organisms, including humans. The mature venom peptide was synthesized and characterized structurally and functionally. The peptide was bioactive upon injection into mice, and calcium imaging of mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells revealed that the peptide elicits an increase in intracellular calcium levels in a subset of DRG neurons. Unusually for most Conus venom peptides, it also elicited an increase in intracellular calcium levels in a subset of non-neuronal cells. PMID:25464369

  14. Transcriptome analysis of the venom glands of the Chinese wolf spider Lycosa singoriensis.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Yongqun; Chen, Jinjun; Tang, Xing; Wang, Fan; Jiang, Liping; Xiong, Xia; Wang, Meichi; Rong, Mingqiang; Liu, Zhonghua; Liang, Songping

    2010-01-01

    The wolf spider Lycosa singoriensis is a hunting spider with a widespread distribution in northwest China. The venom gland of spiders, which is a very specialized secretory tissue, can secrete abundant and complex toxin components. To extensively examine the transcripts expressed in the venom glands of L. singoriensis, we generated 833 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a directional cDNA library. Toxin-like sequences account for 69.1% of these ESTs, 17.3% are similar to cellular transcripts and 13.6% have no significant similarity to any known sequences. Here, we identified 223 novel toxin-like sequences, which can be classified into six different superfamilies; that means a novel potential source of ligands for varied ion channels was discovered. With the aid of Gene Ontology terms and homology to eukaryotic orthologous groups, the annotation of cellular transcripts revealed some cellular processes important for the toxin secretion of venom glands including protein synthesis, protein folding, tuned post-translational processing and trafficking, etc. PMID:19875276

  15. BmKn-2 scorpion venom peptide for killing oral cancer cells by apoptosis.

    PubMed

    Tong-ngam, Pirut; Roytrakul, Sittiruk; Sritanaudomchai, Hathaitip

    2015-01-01

    Scorpion venom peptides recently have attracted attention as alternative chemotherapeutic agents that may overcome the limitations of current drugs, providing specific cytotoxicity for cancer cells with an ability to bypass multidrug-resistance mechanisms, additive effects in combination therapy and safety. In the present study, BmKn-2 scorpion venom peptide and its derivatives were chosen for assessment of anticancer activities. BmKn-2 was identified as the most effective against human oral squamous cells carcinoma cell line (HSC-4) by screening assays with an IC50 value of 29 μg/ml. The BmKn-2 peptide killed HSC-4 cells through induction of apoptosis, as confirmed by phase contrast microscopy and RT-PCR techniques. Typical morphological features of apoptosis including cell shrinkage and rounding characteristics were observed in treated HSC-4 cells. The results were further confirmed by increased expression of pro-apoptotic genes such as caspase-3, -7, and -9 but decrease mRNA level of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 in BmKn-2 treated cells, as determined by RT-PCR assay. In summary, the BmKn-2 scorpion venom peptide demonstrates specific membrane binding, growth inhibition and apoptogenic activity against human oral cancer cells. PMID:25854366

  16. Y Fuse? Sex Chromosome Fusions in Fishes and Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Vamosi, Jana C.; Peichel, Catherine L.; Valenzuela, Nicole; Kitano, Jun

    2015-01-01

    Chromosomal fusion plays a recurring role in the evolution of adaptations and reproductive isolation among species, yet little is known of the evolutionary drivers of chromosomal fusions. Because sex chromosomes (X and Y in male heterogametic systems, Z and W in female heterogametic systems) differ in their selective, mutational, and demographic environments, those differences provide a unique opportunity to dissect the evolutionary forces that drive chromosomal fusions. We estimate the rate at which fusions between sex chromosomes and autosomes become established across the phylogenies of both fishes and squamate reptiles. Both the incidence among extant species and the establishment rate of Y-autosome fusions is much higher than for X-autosome, Z-autosome, or W-autosome fusions. Using population genetic models, we show that this pattern cannot be reconciled with many standard explanations for the spread of fusions. In particular, direct selection acting on fusions or sexually antagonistic selection cannot, on their own, account for the predominance of Y-autosome fusions. The most plausible explanation for the observed data seems to be (a) that fusions are slightly deleterious, and (b) that the mutation rate is male-biased or the reproductive sex ratio is female-biased. We identify other combinations of evolutionary forces that might in principle account for the data although they appear less likely. Our results shed light on the processes that drive structural changes throughout the genome. PMID:25993542

  17. Y fuse? Sex chromosome fusions in fishes and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Pennell, Matthew W; Kirkpatrick, Mark; Otto, Sarah P; Vamosi, Jana C; Peichel, Catherine L; Valenzuela, Nicole; Kitano, Jun

    2015-05-01

    Chromosomal fusion plays a recurring role in the evolution of adaptations and reproductive isolation among species, yet little is known of the evolutionary drivers of chromosomal fusions. Because sex chromosomes (X and Y in male heterogametic systems, Z and W in female heterogametic systems) differ in their selective, mutational, and demographic environments, those differences provide a unique opportunity to dissect the evolutionary forces that drive chromosomal fusions. We estimate the rate at which fusions between sex chromosomes and autosomes become established across the phylogenies of both fishes and squamate reptiles. Both the incidence among extant species and the establishment rate of Y-autosome fusions is much higher than for X-autosome, Z-autosome, or W-autosome fusions. Using population genetic models, we show that this pattern cannot be reconciled with many standard explanations for the spread of fusions. In particular, direct selection acting on fusions or sexually antagonistic selection cannot, on their own, account for the predominance of Y-autosome fusions. The most plausible explanation for the observed data seems to be (a) that fusions are slightly deleterious, and (b) that the mutation rate is male-biased or the reproductive sex ratio is female-biased. We identify other combinations of evolutionary forces that might in principle account for the data although they appear less likely. Our results shed light on the processes that drive structural changes throughout the genome. PMID:25993542

  18. Cryptosporidium parvum is not transmissible to fish, amphibians, or reptiles.

    PubMed

    Graczyk, T K; Fayer, R; Cranfield, M R

    1996-10-01

    A recent report suggested that an isolate of Cryptosporidium parvum had established infections in fish, amphibians, and reptiles and raises concern that animals other than mammals might be a potential source of waterborne Cryptosporidium oocysts. To test this possibility, viable C. parvum oocysts, infectious for neonatal BALB/c mice, were delivered by gastric intubation to bluegill sunfish, poison-dart frogs, African clawed frogs, bearded dragon lizards, and corn snakes. Histological sections of the stomach, jejunum, ileum, and cloaca prepared from tissues collected on days 7 and 14 postinoculation (PI) were negative for Cryptosporidium developmental stages. However, inoculum-derived oocysts were detectable by fluorescein-labeled monoclonal antibody in feces of inoculated animals from day 1 to day 12 PI in fish and frogs, and up to day 14 PI in lizards. Snakes did not defecate for 14 days PI. Impression smears taken at necropsy on days 7 and 14 PI revealed C. parvum oocysts in the lumen of the cloaca of 2 fish and 1 lizard on day 7 PI only. Because tissue stages of the pathogen were not found, it appears that C. parvum was not heterologously transmitted to lower vertebrates. Under certain circumstances, however, such as after the ingestion of C. parvum-infected prey, lower vertebrates may disseminate C. parvum oocysts in the environment. PMID:8885883

  19. Isolation and identification of mycobacteria from captive reptiles.

    PubMed

    Ebani, Valentina V; Fratini, Filippo; Bertelloni, Fabrizio; Cerri, Domenico; Tortoli, Enrico

    2012-12-01

    The occurrence of Mycobacterium species in clinically healthy pet reptiles was studied in Italy during the period 2004-2006. The feces samples of 223 animals were examined bacteriologically. Thirty-seven strains were isolated, in particular from 13/18 (72.2%) ophidians, 13/134 (9.7%) saurians and 11/71 (15.5%) chelonians. The isolates were classified, after HPLC analysis of bromophenacyl esters of cell wall mycolic acids, as Mycobacterium fortuitum (14 strains, 37.8%), Mycobacterium fortuitum-like (17, 45.9%), Mycobacterium peregrinum (4, 10.8%), and Mycobacterium chelonae (1, 2.7%). M. fortuitum was isolated from seven pythons, five saurians and two turtles; M. fortuitum-like from six saurians, six pythons and five turtles; M. peregrinum from four turtles; M. chelonae from one lizard. One isolate from an Iguana iguana could not be identified by HPLC analysis showing a previously unreported profile. Comparative 16S rDNA sequencing showed a low similarity with Mycobacterium triviale (97.2%) and Mycobacterium confluentis (97.1%). On the basis of such data the unidentified bacterium turned out to belong to a not yet described Mycobacterium species. PMID:22657144

  20. The role of TLR2 in the acute inflammatory response induced by Bothrops atrox snake venom.

    PubMed

    Moreira, Vanessa; Teixeira, Catarina; Borges da Silva, Henrique; D'Império Lima, Maria Regina; Dos-Santos, Maria Cristina

    2016-08-01

    Envenomation by snakes of the species Bothrops atrox induces local and systemic effects. Local effects include drastic tissue damage and a marked inflammatory response as a result of the synthesis and release of a variety of protein and lipid mediators. Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathways can play an important role in this response, leading to synthesis of these inflammatory mediators. This study investigated the influence of TLR2 on the acute inflammatory response induced by Bothrops atrox venom. Wild-type C57BL/6 mice (WT) and TLR2 gene knockout mice (TLR2(-/-)) were injected with Bothrops atrox venom (BaV), and the following responses to the venom were assessed in peritoneal exudate: leukocyte accumulation; release of mediators, including CCL-2, IL-10, IL-1β, IL-6 and LTB4; protein expression of COX-1 and COX-2; and quantification of their products PGE2 and TXA2. After injection with BaV, the TLR2(-/-) mice (TLR2(-/-)BaV) had higher levels of IL-6 and CCL-2 than WT animals kept under the same conditions (WTBaV), together with an accumulation of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), inhibition of IL-1β and LTB4 and reduced mononuclear leukocyte influx. However, no significant differences in COX-2 protein expression or PGE2, TXA2 and IL-10 production between the TLR2(-/-)BaV and WTBav animals were observed. Together, these results indicate that the signaling pathway activated by TLR2 acts by modulating the induced inflammatory response to BaV through the direct action of venom-associated molecular patterns (VAMPs) or indirectly by forming damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) and that this may have important therapeutic implications. PMID:27109323

  1. A Venom Gland Extracellular Chitin-Binding-Like Protein from Pupal Endoparasitoid Wasps, Pteromalus Puparum, Selectively Binds Chitin.

    PubMed

    Zhu, Yu; Ye, Xin-Hai; Liu, Yang; Yan, Zhi-Chao; Stanley, David; Ye, Gong-Yin; Fang, Qi

    2015-12-01

    Chitin-binding proteins (CBPs) are present in many species and they act in a variety of biological processes. We analyzed a Pteromalus puparum venom apparatus proteome and transcriptome and identified a partial gene encoding a possible CBP. Here, we report cloning a full-length cDNA of a sequence encoding a chitin-binding-like protein (PpCBP) from P. puparum, a pupal endoparasitoid of Pieris rapae. The cDNA encoded a 96-amino-acid protein, including a secretory signal peptide and a chitin-binding peritrophin-A domain. Phylogenetic analysis of chitin binding domains (CBDs) of cuticle proteins and peritrophic matrix proteins in selected insects revealed that the CBD of PpCBP clustered with the CBD of Nasonia vitripennis. The PpCBP is specifically expressed in the venom apparatus of P. puparum, mostly in the venom gland. PpCBP expression was highest at day one after adult eclosion and much lower for the following five days. We produced a recombinant PpCBP and binding assays showed the recombinant protein selectively binds chitin but not cellulose in vitro. We infer that PpCBP serves a structural role in the venom reservoir, or may be injected into the host to help wound healing of the host exoskeleton. PMID:26633500

  2. A Venom Gland Extracellular Chitin-Binding-Like Protein from Pupal Endoparasitoid Wasps, Pteromalus Puparum, Selectively Binds Chitin

    PubMed Central

    Zhu, Yu; Ye, Xin-Hai; Liu, Yang; Yan, Zhi-Chao; Stanley, David; Ye, Gong-Yin; Fang, Qi

    2015-01-01

    Chitin-binding proteins (CBPs) are present in many species and they act in a variety of biological processes. We analyzed a Pteromalus puparum venom apparatus proteome and transcriptome and identified a partial gene encoding a possible CBP. Here, we report cloning a full-length cDNA of a sequence encoding a chitin-binding-like protein (PpCBP) from P. puparum, a pupal endoparasitoid of Pieris rapae. The cDNA encoded a 96-amino-acid protein, including a secretory signal peptide and a chitin-binding peritrophin-A domain. Phylogenetic analysis of chitin binding domains (CBDs) of cuticle proteins and peritrophic matrix proteins in selected insects revealed that the CBD of PpCBP clustered with the CBD of Nasonia vitripennis. The PpCBP is specifically expressed in the venom apparatus of P. puparum, mostly in the venom gland. PpCBP expression was highest at day one after adult eclosion and much lower for the following five days. We produced a recombinant PpCBP and binding assays showed the recombinant protein selectively binds chitin but not cellulose in vitro. We infer that PpCBP serves a structural role in the venom reservoir, or may be injected into the host to help wound healing of the host exoskeleton. PMID:26633500

  3. Why myotoxin-containing snake venoms possess powerful nucleotidases?

    PubMed

    Caccin, Paola; Pellegatti, Patrizia; Fernandez, Julián; Vono, Maria; Cintra-Francischinelli, Mariana; Lomonte, Bruno; Gutiérrez, José María; Di Virgilio, Francesco; Montecucco, Cesare

    2013-01-25

    The venom of the snake Bothrops asper causes muscle necrosis, pain and inflammation. This venom contains myotoxins which cause an increase in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration and release of K(+) and ATP from myotubes. ATP is a key danger molecule that triggers a variety of reactions, including activation of the innate immune response. Here, using ATP-luciferase bioluminescence imaging technique, we show for the first time in vivo, that the purified myotoxins induce rapid release of ATP, whilst the complete venom of B. asper does at a very small extent. This apparent contradiction is explained by the finding that the venom contains powerful nucleotidases that in vivo convert ATP into ADP, AMP and Adenosine. These findings indicate that high concentrations of adenosine are generated by the double action of the venom and provide the experimental basis to the suggestion that in situ generated adenosine plays an important role in envenomation via its hypotensive, paralyzing and anti-coagulant activities. PMID:23261426

  4. [Accidents with venomous and poisonous animals in Central Europe].

    PubMed

    Bodio, Mauro; Junghanss, Thomas

    2009-05-01

    Central Europe is largely safe from accidents with venomous and poisonous animals. The regions where European vipers are regularly found are shrinking. Today accidents with jellyfish and stings of venomous fish afflicted during leisure activities at the sea side play the dominant role. Life threatening accidents in Europe are mainly due to exotic snakes held in captivity. A system useful in daily medical practice is explained to classify and stage accidents due to poisonous and venomous animals. The important poisonous and venomous animals of Central Europe and the specific therapeutics, the antivenoms, are covered. The antivenom depot "Antivenin-CH" of the Swiss Toxicology Information Centre in Zurich and the MRITox in Munich with the antivenom registry Munich AntiVenom INdex (MAVIN) are presented. PMID:19401985

  5. Extensive inter- and intraspecific venom variation in closely related parasites targeting the same host: the case of Leptopilina parasitoids of Drosophila.

    PubMed

    Colinet, Dominique; Deleury, Emeline; Anselme, Caroline; Cazes, Dominique; Poulain, Julie; Azema-Dossat, Carole; Belghazi, Maya; Gatti, Jean-Luc; Poirié, Marylène

    2013-07-01

    The arms race between immune suppressive parasites that produce virulence factors and hosts that evolve resistance to these factors is suggested to be a key driver for the diversification of both partners. However, little is known regarding the diversity of virulence factors in closely related parasites or the mechanisms underlying the variation of virulence. One of the best-described model to address this issue is the interaction between Leptopilina parasitic wasps and their Drosophila hosts, in which variation of virulence is well documented. Thanks to a combined transcriptomic and proteomic approach, we have identified the main secreted proteins in the venom of Leptopilina heterotoma (Gotheron strain, 66 proteins) and of two well-characterized strains of Leptopilina boulardi, ISm and ISy (65 and 49 proteins, respectively). Results revealed significant quantitative differences in venom components between the L. boulardi strains, in agreement with their different virulence properties. Strikingly, the two related Leptopilina species did not share any abundant venom protein. The main identified proteins in L. boulardi were RhoGAPs and serpins while an aspartylglucosaminidase (AGA) was found abundant in L. heterotoma. The extensive quantitative variation observed between these species may be related with their use of different virulence strategies and/or to differences in their host range (specialist versus generalist). Altogether, our data suggests that parasitoid venom can quickly evolve, mainly through rapid changes in regulation of gene expression. It also evidences venom evolutionary processes largely described in other venomous animals i.e. the convergent recruitment of venom proteins between phylogenetically unrelated organisms, and the role of duplications in the emergence of multigenic families of virulence factors. PMID:23557852

  6. Brown spider (Loxosceles genus) venom toxins: tools for biological purposes.

    PubMed

    Chaim, Olga Meiri; Trevisan-Silva, Dilza; Chaves-Moreira, Daniele; Wille, Ana Carolina M; Ferrer, Valéria Pereira; Matsubara, Fernando Hitomi; Mangili, Oldemir Carlos; da Silveira, Rafael Bertoni; Gremski, Luiza Helena; Gremski, Waldemiro; Senff-Ribeiro, Andrea; Veiga, Silvio Sanches

    2011-03-01

    Venomous animals use their venoms as tools for defense or predation. These venoms are complex mixtures, mainly enriched of proteic toxins or peptides with several, and different, biological activities. In general, spider venom is rich in biologically active molecules that are useful in experimental protocols for pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology and immunology, as well as putative tools for biotechnology and industries. Spider venoms have recently garnered much attention from several research groups worldwide. Brown spider (Loxosceles genus) venom is enriched in low molecular mass proteins (5-40 kDa). Although their venom is produced in minute volumes (a few microliters), and contain only tens of micrograms of protein, the use of techniques based on molecular biology and proteomic analysis has afforded rational projects in the area and permitted the discovery and identification of a great number of novel toxins. The brown spider phospholipase-D family is undoubtedly the most investigated and characterized, although other important toxins, such as low molecular mass insecticidal peptides, metalloproteases and hyaluronidases have also been identified and featured in literature. The molecular pathways of the action of these toxins have been reported and brought new insights in the field of biotechnology. Herein, we shall see how recent reports describing discoveries in the area of brown spider venom have expanded biotechnological uses of molecules identified in these venoms, with special emphasis on the construction of a cDNA library for venom glands, transcriptome analysis, proteomic projects, recombinant expression of different proteic toxins, and finally structural descriptions based on crystallography of toxins. PMID:22069711

  7. Brown Spider (Loxosceles genus) Venom Toxins: Tools for Biological Purposes

    PubMed Central

    Chaim, Olga Meiri; Trevisan-Silva, Dilza; Chaves-Moreira, Daniele; Wille, Ana Carolina M.; Ferrer, Valéria Pereira; Matsubara, Fernando Hitomi; Mangili, Oldemir Carlos; da Silveira, Rafael Bertoni; Gremski, Luiza Helena; Gremski, Waldemiro; Senff-Ribeiro, Andrea; Veiga, Silvio Sanches

    2011-01-01

    Venomous animals use their venoms as tools for defense or predation. These venoms are complex mixtures, mainly enriched of proteic toxins or peptides with several, and different, biological activities. In general, spider venom is rich in biologically active molecules that are useful in experimental protocols for pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology and immunology, as well as putative tools for biotechnology and industries. Spider venoms have recently garnered much attention from several research groups worldwide. Brown spider (Loxosceles genus) venom is enriched in low molecular mass proteins (5–40 kDa). Although their venom is produced in minute volumes (a few microliters), and contain only tens of micrograms of protein, the use of techniques based on molecular biology and proteomic analysis has afforded rational projects in the area and permitted the discovery and identification of a great number of novel toxins. The brown spider phospholipase-D family is undoubtedly the most investigated and characterized, although other important toxins, such as low molecular mass insecticidal peptides, metalloproteases and hyaluronidases have also been identified and featured in literature. The molecular pathways of the action of these toxins have been reported and brought new insights in the field of biotechnology. Herein, we shall see how recent reports describing discoveries in the area of brown spider venom have expanded biotechnological uses of molecules identified in these venoms, with special emphasis on the construction of a cDNA library for venom glands, transcriptome analysis, proteomic projects, recombinant expression of different proteic toxins, and finally structural descriptions based on crystallography of toxins. PMID:22069711

  8. Analgesic effect of Persian Gulf Conus textile venom

    PubMed Central

    Tabaraki, Nasim; Shahbazzadeh, Delavar; Moradi, Ali Mashinchian; Vosughi, Gholamhossein; Mostafavi, Pargol Ghavam

    2014-01-01

    Objective(s): Cone snails are estimated to consist of up to 700 species. The venom of these snails has yielded a rich source of novel peptides. This study was aimed to study the analgesic effect of Persian Gulf Conus textile and its comparison with morphine in mouse model. Materials and Methods: Samples were collected in Larak Island. The venom ducts were Isolated and kept on ice then homogenized. The mixture centrifuged at 10000 × g for 20 min. Supernatant was considered as extracted venom. The protein profile of venom determined using 15% sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Venom was administered intraperitoneally (IP) to evaluate the LD50 in Swiss albino mice. Different concentrations of Conus textile venom were injected intrathecally to mice to evaluate their analgesic effect in comparison to morphine. Injection was carried out between the L5 and L6 vertebrae. Differences between groups in the first and second phase were tested with Two-Way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results: SDS-PAGE indicated 12 bands ranged between 6 and 180 KDa. Finally, ten ng of Conus crude venom showed the best analgesic activity in formalin test. No death observed up to 100 mg/kg. Analgesic activity of crude venom was more significant (P<0.05) in acute pain than inflammatory pain. The analgesic effect of 10 ng Conus venom was the same as morphine for reduction of inflammatory pain (P=0.27). Conclusion: The venom of Persian Gulf Conus textile contains an analgesic component for reliving of acute pain which can lead to find an analgesic drug. PMID:25729549

  9. Identification and characterization of novel reptile cathelicidins from elapid snakes.

    PubMed

    Zhao, Hui; Gan, Tong-Xiang; Liu, Xiao-Dong; Jin, Yang; Lee, Wen-Hui; Shen, Ji-Hong; Zhang, Yun

    2008-10-01

    Three cDNA sequences coding for elapid cathelicidins were cloned from constructed venom gland cDNA libraries of Naja atra, Bungarus fasciatus and Ophiophagus hannah. The open reading frames of the cloned elapid cathelicidins were all composed of 576bp and coded for 191 amino acid residue protein precursors. Each of the deduced elapid cathelicidin has a 22 amino acid residue signal peptide, a conserved cathelin domain of 135 amino acid residues and a mature antimicrobial peptide of 34 amino acid residues. Unlike the highly divergent cathelicidins in mammals, the nucleotide and deduced protein sequences of the three cloned elapid cathelicidins were remarkably conserved. All the elapid mature cathelicidins were predicted to be cleaved at Valine157 by elastase. OH-CATH, the deduced mature cathelicidin from king cobra, was chemically synthesized and it showed strong antibacterial activity against various bacteria with minimal inhibitory concentration of 1-20microg/ml in the presence of 1% NaCl. Meanwhile, the synthetic peptide showed no haemolytic activity toward human red blood cells even at a high dose of 200microg/ml. Phylogenetic analysis of cathelicidins from vertebrate suggested that elapid and viperid cathelicidins were grouped together in the tree. Snake cathelicidins were evolutionary closely related to the neutrophilic granule proteins (NGPs) from mouse, rat and rabbit. Snake cathelicidins also showed a close relationship with avian fowlicidins (1-3) and chicken myeloid antimicrobial peptide 27. Elapid cathelicidins might be used as models for the development of novel therapeutic drugs. PMID:18620012

  10. Sympathetic outflow activates the venom gland of the snake Bothrops jararaca by regulating the activation of transcription factors and the synthesis of venom gland proteins.

    PubMed

    Luna, Milene S A; Hortencio, Thiago M A; Ferreira, Zulma S; Yamanouye, Norma

    2009-05-01

    The venom gland of viperid snakes has a central lumen where the venom produced by secretory cells is stored. When the venom is lost from the gland, the secretory cells are activated and new venom is produced. The production of new venom is triggered by the action of noradrenaline on both alpha(1)- and beta-adrenoceptors in the venom gland. In this study, we show that venom removal leads to the activation of transcription factors NFkappaB and AP-1 in the venom gland. In dispersed secretory cells, noradrenaline activated both NFkappaB and AP-1. Activation of NFkappaB and AP-1 depended on phospholipase C and protein kinase A. Activation of NFkappaB also depended on protein kinase C. Isoprenaline activated both NFkappaB and AP-1, and phenylephrine activated NFkappaB and later AP-1. We also show that the protein composition of the venom gland changes during the venom production cycle. Striking changes occurred 4 and 7 days after venom removal in female and male snakes, respectively. Reserpine blocks this change, and the administration of alpha(1)- and beta-adrenoceptor agonists to reserpine-treated snakes largely restores the protein composition of the venom gland. However, the protein composition of the venom from reserpinized snakes treated with alpha(1)- or beta-adrenoceptor agonists appears normal, judging from SDS-PAGE electrophoresis. A sexual dimorphism in activating transcription factors and activating venom gland was observed. Our data suggest that the release of noradrenaline after biting is necessary to activate the venom gland by regulating the activation of transcription factors and consequently regulating the synthesis of proteins in the venom gland for venom production. PMID:19411547

  11. The First Venomous Crustacean Revealed by Transcriptomics and Functional Morphology: Remipede Venom Glands Express a Unique Toxin Cocktail Dominated by Enzymes and a Neurotoxin

    PubMed Central

    von Reumont, Björn M.; Blanke, Alexander; Richter, Sandy; Alvarez, Fernando; Bleidorn, Christoph; Jenner, Ronald A.

    2014-01-01

    Animal venoms have evolved many times. Venomous species are especially common in three of the four main groups of arthropods (Chelicerata, Myriapoda, and Hexapoda), which together represent tens of thousands of species of venomous spiders, scorpions, centipedes, and hymenopterans. Surprisingly, despite their great diversity of body plans, there is no unambiguous evidence that any crustacean is venomous. We provide the first conclusive evidence that the aquatic, blind, and cave-dwelling remipede crustaceans are venomous and that venoms evolved in all four major arthropod groups. We produced a three-dimensional reconstruction of the venom delivery apparatus of the remipede Speleonectes tulumensis, showing that remipedes can inject venom in a controlled manner. A transcriptomic profile of its venom glands shows that they express a unique cocktail of transcripts coding for known venom toxins, including a diversity of enzymes and a probable paralytic neurotoxin very similar to one described from spider venom. We screened a transcriptomic library obtained from whole animals and identified a nontoxin paralog of the remipede neurotoxin that is not expressed in the venom glands. This allowed us to reconstruct its probable evolutionary origin and underlines the importance of incorporating data derived from nonvenom gland tissue to elucidate the evolution of candidate venom proteins. This first glimpse into the venom of a crustacean and primitively aquatic arthropod reveals conspicuous differences from the venoms of other predatory arthropods such as centipedes, scorpions, and spiders and contributes valuable information for ultimately disentangling the many factors shaping the biology and evolution of venoms and venomous species. PMID:24132120

  12. Biological activities of Peristrophe bivalvis extracts: promising potential for anti-snake venoms against Naja kaouthia and Trimeresurus albolabris venoms.

    PubMed

    Phaopongthai, Jatuporn; Noiphrom, Jureeporn; Phaopongthai, Supat; Pakmanee, Narumol; Sichaem, Jirapast

    2016-01-01

    This study evaluates the in vitro anti-snake venom potential of Peristrophe bivalvis (PB) extracts against Naja kaouthia (NK) and Trimeresurus albolabris (TA) venoms, including inhibition of cytotoxic effects and enzymatic activities, and the binding-precipitation of extracts and venom proteins analysis. In addition, the antioxidant, cytotoxic and in vivo acute oral toxic activities of PB extracts are also reported. The in vitro cytotoxic and enzymatic analysis reveals that the ethanol extracts of stems and leaves of PB showed good anti-snake venom activity against NK and TA venoms. In addition, the antioxidant result indicated that only the ethanol extract of leaves exhibited weak DPPH radical-scavenging activity. The ethanol whole-plant extract of PB also showed no cytotoxicity against four cell lines. Moreover, the in vivo acute oral toxicity result of the ethanol whole-plant extract showed that all treated rats did not exhibit abnormal toxic signs or deaths. PMID:25942501

  13. Ontogenesis, gender, and molting influence the venom yield in the spider Coremiocnemis tropix (Araneae, Theraphosidae)

    PubMed Central

    Herzig, Volker

    2010-01-01

    The demand for spider venom increases along with the growing popularity of venoms-based research. A deeper understanding of factors that influence the venom yield in spiders would therefore be of interest to both commercial venom suppliers and research facilities. The present study addresses the influence of several factors on the venom yield by systematically analyzing the data obtained from 1773 electrical milkings of the Australian theraphosid spider Coremiocnemis tropix. Gender and ontogenesis were found to cause a major effect on the venom yield, as adult female C. tropix yielded significantly more venom than adult males. During ontogenesis, the venom yield increased with increasing size of the spiders. Furthermore, a significant reduction in the venom yield during the 50-day time interval preceding a molt was found. On the other hand, extended milking intervals (up to 449 days) and different states of nutrition (as an indication of how well the spider was fed) did not significantly affect the venom yield. Overall, the present findings suggest that venom production in spiders is carefully balanced between the demand for venom and the energy costs associated with its production. It can therefore be concluded that, in line with the venom optimization hypothesis, venom is a precious resource for spiders, which have implemented control mechanisms to ensure economical venom production and usage. PMID:21544186

  14. Comparison of the Venom Peptides and Their Expression in Closely Related Conus Species: Insights into Adaptive Post-speciation Evolution of Conus Exogenomes

    PubMed Central

    Barghi, Neda; Concepcion, Gisela P.; Olivera, Baldomero M.; Lluisma, Arturo O.

    2015-01-01

    Genes that encode products with exogenous targets, which comprise an organism's “exogenome,” typically exhibit high rates of evolution. The genes encoding the venom peptides (conotoxins or conopeptides) in Conus sensu lato exemplify this class of genes. Their rapid diversification has been established and is believed to be linked to the high speciation rate in this genus. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie venom peptide diversification and ultimately emergence of new species remain poorly understood. In this study, the sequences and expression levels of conotoxins from several specimens of two closely related worm-hunting species, Conus tribblei and Conus lenavati, were compared through transcriptome analysis. Majority of the identified putative conopeptides were novel, and their diversity, even in each specimen, was remarkably high suggesting a wide range of prey targets for these species. Comparison of the interspecific expression patterns of conopeptides at the superfamily level resulted in the discovery of both conserved as well as species-specific expression patterns, indicating divergence in the regulatory network affecting conotoxin gene expression. Comparison of the transcriptomes of the individual snails revealed that each specimen produces a distinct set of highly expressed conopeptides, reflecting the capability of individual snails to fine-tune the composition of their venoms. These observations reflect the role of sequence divergence and divergence in the control of expression for specific conopeptides in the evolution of the exogenome and hence venom composition in Conus. PMID:26047846

  15. Telomeres, Age and Reproduction in a Long-Lived Reptile

    PubMed Central

    Plot, Virginie; Criscuolo, François; Zahn, Sandrine; Georges, Jean-Yves

    2012-01-01

    A major interest has recently emerged in understanding how telomere shortening, mechanism triggering cell senescence, is linked to organism ageing and life history traits in wild species. However, the links between telomere length and key history traits such as reproductive performances have received little attention and remain unclear to date. The leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea is a long-lived species showing rapid growth at early stages of life, one of the highest reproductive outputs observed in vertebrates and a dichotomised reproductive pattern related to migrations lasting 2 or 3 years, supposedly associated with different environmental conditions. Here we tested the prediction of blood telomere shortening with age in this species and investigated the relationship between blood telomere length and reproductive performances in leatherback turtles nesting in French Guiana. We found that blood telomere length did not differ between hatchlings and adults. The absence of blood telomere shortening with age may be related to an early high telomerase activity. This telomere-restoring enzyme was formerly suggested to be involved in preventing early telomere attrition in early fast-growing and long-lived species, including squamate reptiles. We found that within one nesting cycle, adult females having performed shorter migrations prior to the considered nesting season had shorter blood telomeres and lower reproductive output. We propose that shorter blood telomeres may result from higher oxidative stress in individuals breeding more frequently (i.e., higher costs of reproduction) and/or restoring more quickly their body reserves in cooler feeding areas during preceding migration (i.e., higher foraging costs). This first study on telomeres in the giant leatherback turtle suggests that blood telomere length predicts not only survival chances, but also reproductive performances. Telomeres may therefore be a promising new tool to evaluate individual reproductive

  16. Evolution of the hippocampus in reptiles and birds.

    PubMed

    Striedter, Georg F

    2016-02-15

    Although the hippocampus is structurally quite different among reptiles, birds, and mammals, its function in spatial memory is said to be highly conserved. This is surprising, given that structural differences generally reflect functional differences. Here I review this enigma in some detail, identifying several evolutionary changes in hippocampal cytoarchitecture and connectivity. I recognize a lepidosaurid pattern of hippocampal organization (in lizards, snakes, and the tuatara Sphenodon) that differs substantially from the pattern of organization observed in the turtle/archosaur lineage, which includes crocodilians and birds. Although individual subdivisions of the hippocampus are difficult to homologize between these two patterns, both lack a clear homolog of the mammalian dentate gyrus. The strictly trilaminar organization of the ancestral amniote hippocampus was gradually lost in the lineage leading to birds, and birds expanded the system of intrahippocampal axon collaterals, relative to turtles and lizards. These expanded collateral axon branches resemble the extensive collaterals in CA3 of the mammalian hippocampus but probably evolved independently of them. Additional examples of convergent evolution between birds and mammals are the loss of direct inputs to the hippocampus from the primary olfactory cortex and the general expansion of telencephalic regions that communicate reciprocally with the hippocampus. Given this structural convergence, it seems likely that some similarities in the function of the hippocampus between birds and mammals, notably its role in the ability to remember many different locations without extensive training, likewise evolved convergently. The currently available data do not allow for a strong test of this hypothesis, but the hypothesis itself suggests some promising new research directions. PMID:25982694

  17. Occurrence and abundance of ants, reptiles, and mammals: Chapter 7

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    2011-01-01

    Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)- associated wildlife are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation and by impacts associated with anthropogenic disturbances, including energy development. Understanding how species of concern as well as other wildlife including insects, reptiles, and mammals respond to type and spatial scale of disturbance is critical to managing future land uses and identifying sites that are important for conservation. We developed statistical models to describe species occurrence or abundance, based on area searches in 7.29-ha survey blocks, across the Wyoming Basins Ecoregional Assessment (WBEA) area for six shrub steppe-associated species: harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex spp.), thatch ant (Formica spp.), short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma hernandesi), white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii), cottontail (Sylvilagus spp.) and least chipmunk (Tamius minimus). We modeled patterns in occupancy or abundance relative to multi-scale measures of vegetation type and pattern, abiotic site characteristics, and anthropogenic disturbance factors. Sagebrush habitat was a strong predictor of occurrence for shorthorned lizards and white-tailed jackrabbits, but weak for the other four species. Vegetation and abiotic characteristics were strong determinants of species occurrence, although the scale of response was not consistent among species. All species, with the exception of the short-horned lizard, responded to anthropogenic disturbance, although responses again varied as a function of scale and direction (negative and positive influences). Our results improve our understanding of how environmental and anthropogenic factors affect species distributions across the WBEA area and facilitate a multi-species approach to management of this sagebrush ecosystem. Key words: abundance, anthropogenic disturbance, cottontail, habitat, harvester ant, least chipmunk, occurrence, pygmy rabbit, short-horned lizard, thatch ant, white-tailed jackrabbit.

  18. Regulation of expression of venom toxins: silencing of prothrombin activator trocarin D by AG-rich motifs.

    PubMed

    Han, Summer Xia; Kwong, Shiyang; Ge, Ruowen; Kolatkar, Prasanna R; Woods, Anthony E; Blanchet, Guillaume; Kini, R Manjunatha

    2016-06-01

    Trocarin D (TroD), a venom prothrombin activator from Tropidechis carinatus, shares similar structure and function with blood coagulation factor Xa [Tropidechis carinatus FX (TrFX) a]. Their distinct physiologic roles are due to their distinct expression patterns. The genes of TroD and TrFX are highly similar, except for promoter and intron 1, indicating that TroD has probably evolved by duplication of FX, the plasma counterpart. The promoter insertion in TroD accounts for the elevated but not venom gland-specific expression. Here we examined the roles of 3 insertions and 2 deletions in intron 1 of TroD in the regulation of expression using luciferase as a reporter. By systematic deletions, we showed that a 209 bp region within the second insertion silences expression in mammalian and unmilked venom gland cells. Through bioinformatics analysis, we identified 5 AG-rich motifs in this region. All except the 5th motif are important for silencing function. YY1, Sp3 and HMGB2 were identified to bind these AG-rich motifs and silence gene expression in mammalian cells. Similar AG-rich motif clusters are also found in other toxin genes but not in their physiologic counterparts. Thus, AG-rich motifs contribute to regulation of expression of TroD, and probably other toxin genes.-Han, S. X., Kwong, S., Ge, R., Kolatkar, P. R., Woods, A. E., Blanchet, G., Kini, R. M. Regulation of expression of venom toxins: silencing of prothrombin activator trocarin D by AG-rich motifs. PMID:26985007

  19. Chironex fleckeri (Box Jellyfish) Venom Proteins

    PubMed Central

    Brinkman, Diane L.; Konstantakopoulos, Nicki; McInerney, Bernie V.; Mulvenna, Jason; Seymour, Jamie E.; Isbister, Geoffrey K.; Hodgson, Wayne C.

    2014-01-01

    The box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri produces extremely potent and rapid-acting venom that is harmful to humans and lethal to prey. Here, we describe the characterization of two C. fleckeri venom proteins, CfTX-A (∼40 kDa) and CfTX-B (∼42 kDa), which were isolated from C. fleckeri venom using size exclusion chromatography and cation exchange chromatography. Full-length cDNA sequences encoding CfTX-A and -B and a third putative toxin, CfTX-Bt, were subsequently retrieved from a C. fleckeri tentacle cDNA library. Bioinformatic analyses revealed that the new toxins belong to a small family of potent cnidarian pore-forming toxins that includes two other C. fleckeri toxins, CfTX-1 and CfTX-2. Phylogenetic inferences from amino acid sequences of the toxin family grouped CfTX-A, -B, and -Bt in a separate clade from CfTX-1 and -2, suggesting that the C. fleckeri toxins have diversified structurally and functionally during evolution. Comparative bioactivity assays revealed that CfTX-1/2 (25 μg kg−1) caused profound effects on the cardiovascular system of anesthetized rats, whereas CfTX-A/B elicited only minor effects at the same dose. Conversely, the hemolytic activity of CfTX-A/B (HU50 = 5 ng ml−1) was at least 30 times greater than that of CfTX-1/2. Structural homology between the cubozoan toxins and insecticidal three-domain Cry toxins (δ-endotoxins) suggests that the toxins have a similar pore-forming mechanism of action involving α-helices of the N-terminal domain, whereas structural diversification among toxin members may modulate target specificity. Expansion of the cnidarian toxin family therefore provides new insights into the evolutionary diversification of box jellyfish toxins from a structural and functional perspective. PMID:24403082

  20. Reptile Toll-like receptor 5 unveils adaptive evolution of bacterial flagellin recognition.

    PubMed

    Voogdt, Carlos G P; Bouwman, Lieneke I; Kik, Marja J L; Wagenaar, Jaap A; van Putten, Jos P M

    2016-01-01

    Toll-like receptors (TLR) are ancient innate immune receptors crucial for immune homeostasis and protection against infection. TLRs are present in mammals, birds, amphibians and fish but have not been functionally characterized in reptiles despite the central position of this animal class in vertebrate evolution. Here we report the cloning, characterization, and function of TLR5 of the reptile Anolis carolinensis (Green Anole lizard). The receptor (acTLR5) displays the typical TLR protein architecture with 22 extracellular leucine rich repeats flanked by a N- and C-terminal leucine rich repeat domain, a membrane-spanning region, and an intracellular TIR domain. The receptor is phylogenetically most similar to TLR5 of birds and most distant to fish TLR5. Transcript analysis revealed acTLR5 expression in multiple lizard tissues. Stimulation of acTLR5 with TLR ligands demonstrated unique responsiveness towards bacterial flagellin in both reptile and human cells. Comparison of acTLR5 and human TLR5 using purified flagellins revealed differential sensitivity to Pseudomonas but not Salmonella flagellin, indicating development of species-specific flagellin recognition during the divergent evolution of mammals and reptiles. Our discovery of reptile TLR5 fills the evolutionary gap regarding TLR conservation across vertebrates and provides novel insights in functional evolution of host-microbe interactions. PMID:26738735

  1. The behavioral responses of amphibians and reptiles to microgravity on parabolic flights.

    PubMed

    Wassersug, Richard J; Roberts, Lesley; Gimian, Jenny; Hughes, Elizabeth; Saunders, Ryan; Devison, Darren; Woodbury, Jonathan; O'Reilly, James C

    2005-01-01

    In the present study, we exposed 53 animals from 23 different species of amphibians and reptiles to microgravity (mug). This nearly doubles the number of amphibians and reptiles observed so far in mug. The animals were flown on a parabolic flight, which provided 20-25s of mug, to better characterize behavioral reactions to abrupt exposure to mug. Highly fossorial limbless caecilians and amphisbaenians showed relatively limited movement in mug. Limbed quadrupedal reptiles that were non-arboreal in the genera Leiocephalus, Anolis, and Scincella showed the typical righting response and enormous amounts of body motion and tail rotation, which we interpreted as both righting responses and futile actions to grasp the substrate. Both arboreal and non-arboreal geckos in the genera Uroplatus, Palmatogecko, Stenodactylus, Tarentola, and Eublepharis instead showed a skydiving posture previously reported for highly arboreal anurans. Some snakes, in the genera Thamnophis and Elaphe, which typically thrashed and rolled in mug, managed to knot their own bodies with their tails and immediately became quiescent. This suggests that these reptiles gave stable physical contact, which would indicate that they were not falling, primacy over vestibular input that indicated that they were in freefall. The fact that they became quiet upon self-embrace further suggests a failure to distinguish self from non-self. The patterns of behavior seen in amphibians and reptiles in mug can be explained in light of their normal ecology and taxonomic relations. PMID:16351959

  2. Terrestrial origin of viviparity in mesozoic marine reptiles indicated by early triassic embryonic fossils.

    PubMed

    Motani, Ryosuke; Jiang, Da-yong; Tintori, Andrea; Rieppel, Olivier; Chen, Guan-bao

    2014-01-01

    Viviparity in Mesozoic marine reptiles has traditionally been considered an aquatic adaptation. We report a new fossil specimen that strongly contradicts this traditional interpretation. The new specimen contains the oldest fossil embryos of Mesozoic marine reptile that are about 10 million years older than previous such records. The fossil belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), which is the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles (ca. 248 million years ago, Early Triassic). This exceptional specimen captures an articulated embryo in birth position, with its skull just emerged from the maternal pelvis. Its headfirst birth posture, which is unlikely to be a breech condition, strongly indicates a terrestrial origin of viviparity, in contrast to the traditional view. The tail-first birth posture in derived ichthyopterygians, convergent with the conditions in whales and sea cows, therefore is a secondary feature. The unequivocally marine origin of viviparity is so far not known among amniotes, a subset of vertebrate animals comprising mammals and reptiles, including birds. Therefore, obligate marine amniotes appear to have evolved almost exclusively from viviparous land ancestors. Viviparous land reptiles most likely appeared much earlier than currently thought, at least as early as the recovery phase from the end-Permian mass extinction. PMID:24533127

  3. Reptile Toll-like receptor 5 unveils adaptive evolution of bacterial flagellin recognition

    PubMed Central

    Voogdt, Carlos G. P.; Bouwman, Lieneke I.; Kik, Marja J. L.; Wagenaar, Jaap A.; van Putten, Jos P. M.

    2016-01-01

    Toll-like receptors (TLR) are ancient innate immune receptors crucial for immune homeostasis and protection against infection. TLRs are present in mammals, birds, amphibians and fish but have not been functionally characterized in reptiles despite the central position of this animal class in vertebrate evolution. Here we report the cloning, characterization, and function of TLR5 of the reptile Anolis carolinensis (Green Anole lizard). The receptor (acTLR5) displays the typical TLR protein architecture with 22 extracellular leucine rich repeats flanked by a N- and C-terminal leucine rich repeat domain, a membrane-spanning region, and an intracellular TIR domain. The receptor is phylogenetically most similar to TLR5 of birds and most distant to fish TLR5. Transcript analysis revealed acTLR5 expression in multiple lizard tissues. Stimulation of acTLR5 with TLR ligands demonstrated unique responsiveness towards bacterial flagellin in both reptile and human cells. Comparison of acTLR5 and human TLR5 using purified flagellins revealed differential sensitivity to Pseudomonas but not Salmonella flagellin, indicating development of species-specific flagellin recognition during the divergent evolution of mammals and reptiles. Our discovery of reptile TLR5 fills the evolutionary gap regarding TLR conservation across vertebrates and provides novel insights in functional evolution of host-microbe interactions. PMID:26738735

  4. Terrestrial Origin of Viviparity in Mesozoic Marine Reptiles Indicated by Early Triassic Embryonic Fossils

    PubMed Central

    Motani, Ryosuke; Jiang, Da-yong; Tintori, Andrea; Rieppel, Olivier; Chen, Guan-bao

    2014-01-01

    Viviparity in Mesozoic marine reptiles has traditionally been considered an aquatic adaptation. We report a new fossil specimen that strongly contradicts this traditional interpretation. The new specimen contains the oldest fossil embryos of Mesozoic marine reptile that are about 10 million years older than previous such records. The fossil belongs to Chaohusaurus (Reptilia, Ichthyopterygia), which is the oldest of Mesozoic marine reptiles (ca. 248 million years ago, Early Triassic). This exceptional specimen captures an articulated embryo in birth position, with its skull just emerged from the maternal pelvis. Its headfirst birth posture, which is unlikely to be a breech condition, strongly indicates a terrestrial origin of viviparity, in contrast to the traditional view. The tail-first birth posture in derived ichthyopterygians, convergent with the conditions in whales and sea cows, therefore is a secondary feature. The unequivocally marine origin of viviparity is so far not known among amniotes, a subset of vertebrate animals comprising mammals and reptiles, including birds. Therefore, obligate marine amniotes appear to have evolved almost exclusively from viviparous land ancestors. Viviparous land reptiles most likely appeared much earlier than currently thought, at least as early as the recovery phase from the end-Permian mass extinction. PMID:24533127

  5. Effects of Animal Venoms and Toxins on Hallmarks of Cancer

    PubMed Central

    Chaisakul, Janeyuth; Hodgson, Wayne C.; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Prasongsook, Naiyarat

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are a cocktail of proteins and peptides, targeting vital physiological processes. Venoms have evolved to assist in the capture and digestion of prey. Key venom components often include neurotoxins, myotoxins, cardiotoxins, hematoxins and catalytic enzymes. The pharmacological activities of venom components have been investigated as a source of potential therapeutic agents. Interestingly, a number of animal toxins display profound anticancer effects. These include toxins purified from snake, bee and scorpion venoms effecting cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, apoptotic activity and neovascularization. Indeed, the mechanism behind the anticancer effect of certain toxins is similar to that of agents currently used in chemotherapy. For example, Lebein is a snake venom disintegrin which generates anti-angiogenic effects by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). In this review article, we highlight the biological activities of animal toxins on the multiple steps of tumour formation or hallmarks of cancer. We also discuss recent progress in the discovery of lead compounds for anticancer drug development from venom components. PMID:27471574

  6. Role of the inflammasome in defense against venoms

    PubMed Central

    Palm, Noah W.; Medzhitov, Ruslan

    2013-01-01

    Venoms consist of a complex mixture of toxic components that are used by a variety of animal species for defense and predation. Envenomation of mammalian species leads to an acute inflammatory response and can lead to the development of IgE-dependent venom allergy. However, the mechanisms by which the innate immune system detects envenomation and initiates inflammatory and allergic responses to venoms remain largely unknown. Here we show that bee venom is detected by the NOD-like receptor family, pyrin domain-containing 3 inflammasome and can trigger activation of caspase-1 and the subsequent processing and unconventional secretion of the leaderless proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β in macrophages. Whereas activation of the inflammasome by bee venom induces a caspase-1–dependent inflammatory response, characterized by recruitment of neutrophils to the site or envenomation, the inflammasome is dispensable for the allergic response to bee venom. Finally, we find that caspase-1–deficient mice are more susceptible to the noxious effects of bee and snake venoms, suggesting that a caspase-1–dependent immune response can protect against the damaging effects of envenomation. PMID:23297192

  7. Effects of Animal Venoms and Toxins on Hallmarks of Cancer.

    PubMed

    Chaisakul, Janeyuth; Hodgson, Wayne C; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Prasongsook, Naiyarat

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are a cocktail of proteins and peptides, targeting vital physiological processes. Venoms have evolved to assist in the capture and digestion of prey. Key venom components often include neurotoxins, myotoxins, cardiotoxins, hematoxins and catalytic enzymes. The pharmacological activities of venom components have been investigated as a source of potential therapeutic agents. Interestingly, a number of animal toxins display profound anticancer effects. These include toxins purified from snake, bee and scorpion venoms effecting cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, apoptotic activity and neovascularization. Indeed, the mechanism behind the anticancer effect of certain toxins is similar to that of agents currently used in chemotherapy. For example, Lebein is a snake venom disintegrin which generates anti-angiogenic effects by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). In this review article, we highlight the biological activities of animal toxins on the multiple steps of tumour formation or hallmarks of cancer. We also discuss recent progress in the discovery of lead compounds for anticancer drug development from venom components. PMID:27471574

  8. Scyphozoan jellyfish venom metalloproteinases and their role in the cytotoxicity.

    PubMed

    Lee, Hyunkyoung; Jung, Eun-sun; Kang, Changkeun; Yoon, Won Duk; Kim, Jong-Shu; Kim, Euikyung

    2011-09-01

    The present study, for the first time, comparatively investigated the enzymatic activities (proteases and hyaluronidases) in the venoms of four Scyphozoan jellyfish species, including Nemopilema nomurai, Rhopilema esculenta, Cyanea nozakii, and Aurelia aurita. For this, various zymographic analyses were performed using assay specific substrates. Interestingly, all the four jellyfish venoms showed gelatinolytic, caseinolytic, and fibrinolytic activities, each of which contains a multitude of enzyme components with molecular weights between 17 and 130 kDa. These four jellyfish venoms demonstrated a huge variation in their proteolytic activities in quantitative and qualitative manner depending on the species. Most of these enzymatic activities were disappeared by the treatment of 1,10-phenanthroline, suggesting they might be belonged to metalloproteinases. Toxicological significance of these venom proteases was examined by comparing their proteolytic activity and the cytotoxicity in NIH 3T3 cells. The relative cytotoxic potency was C. nozakii > N. nomurai > A. aurita > R. esculenta. The cytotoxicity of jellyfish venom shows a positive correlation with its overall proteolytic activity. The metalloproteinases appear to play an important role in the induction of jellyfish venom toxicities. In conclusion, the present report proposes a novel finding of Scyphozoan jellyfish venom metalloproteinases and their potential role in the cytotoxicity. PMID:21718715

  9. Effects of snake venom polypeptides on central nervous system.

    PubMed

    Osipov, Alexey; Utkin, Yuri

    2012-12-01

    The nervous system is a primary target for animal venoms as the impairment of its function results in the fast and efficient immobilization or death of a prey. There are numerous evidences about effects of crude snake venoms or isolated toxins on peripheral nervous system. However, the data on their interactions with the central nervous system (CNS) are not abundant, as the blood-brain barrier (BBB) impedes penetration of these compounds into brain. This updated review presents the data about interaction of snake venom polypeptides with CNS. Such data will be described according to three main modes of interactions: - Direct in vivo interaction of CNS with venom polypeptides either capable to penetrate BBB or injected into the brain. - In vitro interactions of cell or sub-cellular fractions of CNS with crude venoms or purified toxins. - Indirect effects of snake venoms or their components on functioning of CNS under different conditions. Although the venom components penetrating BBB are not numerous, they seem to be the most suitable candidates for the leads in drug design. The compounds with other modes of action are more abundant and better studied, but the lack of the data about their ability to penetrate BBB may substantially aggravate the potentials for their medical perspectives. Nevertheless, many such compounds are used for research of CNS in vitro. These investigations may give invaluable information for understanding the molecular basis of CNS diseases and thus lay the basis for targeted drug design. This aspect also will be outlined in the review. PMID:23270323

  10. Use of snake venom fractions in the coagulation laboratory.

    PubMed

    Marsh, N A

    1998-07-01

    Snake venom toxins are now regularly used in the coagulation laboratory for assaying haemostatic parameters and as coagulation reagents. Snake venom thrombin-like enzymes (SVTLE) are used for fibrinogen and fibrinogen breakdown product assay as well as detecting dysfibrinogenaemias. Significantly, because SVTLE are not inhibited by heparin, they can be used for defibrinating samples that contain the anticoagulant before assay of haemostatic variables. Prothrombin activators are found in many snake venoms and are used in prothrombin assays, for studying dysprothrombinaemias and preparing meizothrombin and non-enzymic prothrombin. Russell's viper (Daboia russelli) venom (RVV) contains a number of compounds useful in the assay of factors V, VII, X, platelet factor 3 and lupus anticoagulants. Activators from the taipan, Australian brown snake and saw-scaled viper have been used to assay lupus anticoagulants. Protein C and activated protein C resistance can be measured by means of RVV and Protac, a fast acting inhibitor from Southern copperhead snake venom and von Willebrand factor can be studied with Botrocetin from Bothrops jararaca venom. Finally, phospholipase A2 enzymes and the disintegrins, a family of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-containing proteins found in snake venoms, show great potential for the study of haemostasis including, notably, platelet glycoprotein receptors GPIIb/IIIa and Ib. PMID:9712287

  11. Ancient Venom Systems: A Review on Cnidaria Toxins.

    PubMed

    Jouiaei, Mahdokht; Yanagihara, Angel A; Madio, Bruno; Nevalainen, Timo J; Alewood, Paul F; Fry, Bryan G

    2015-06-01

    Cnidarians are the oldest extant lineage of venomous animals. Despite their simple anatomy, they are capable of subduing or repelling prey and predator species that are far more complex and recently evolved. Utilizing specialized penetrating nematocysts, cnidarians inject the nematocyst content or "venom" that initiates toxic and immunological reactions in the envenomated organism. These venoms contain enzymes, potent pore forming toxins, and neurotoxins. Enzymes include lipolytic and proteolytic proteins that catabolize prey tissues. Cnidarian pore forming toxins self-assemble to form robust membrane pores that can cause cell death via osmotic lysis. Neurotoxins exhibit rapid ion channel specific activities. In addition, certain cnidarian venoms contain or induce the release of host vasodilatory biogenic amines such as serotonin, histamine, bunodosine and caissarone accelerating the pathogenic effects of other venom enzymes and porins. The cnidarian attacking/defending mechanism is fast and efficient, and massive envenomation of humans may result in death, in some cases within a few minutes to an hour after sting. The complexity of venom components represents a unique therapeutic challenge and probably reflects the ancient evolutionary history of the cnidarian venom system. Thus, they are invaluable as a therapeutic target for sting treatment or as lead compounds for drug design. PMID:26094698

  12. Mechanisms of immunotherapy to wasp and bee venom.

    PubMed

    Ozdemir, C; Kucuksezer, U C; Akdis, M; Akdis, C A

    2011-09-01

    Hymenoptera venoms are important allergens that can elicit both local and systemic allergic reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis. Venom immunotherapy (VIT) remains the most effective treatment, reducing the risk of systemic reactions in individuals with Hymenoptera venom allergy. VIT can restore normal immunity against venom allergens and provide patients with a lifetime of tolerance to venoms. During VIT, peripheral tolerance is induced by the generation of allergen-specific regulatory T (Treg) cells, which suppress proliferative and cytokine responses against the venom allergens. Treg cells are characterized by IL-10 secretion that directly or indirectly influence effector cells of allergic inflammation, such as mast cells, basophils and eosinophils. Treg cells also have influence on B cells, suppressing IgE production and inducing the production of blocking type IgG4 antibodies against venom allergens. An accumulating body of evidence suggests that Treg cells may affect allergen sensitization and methods for enhancing this cell population may eventually improve the efficacy of VIT. In this article, immune mechanisms enrolled in bee and wasp VIT are reviewed. PMID:21729181

  13. [Drug or plant substances which antagonize venoms or potentiate antivenins].

    PubMed

    Chippaux, J P; Rakotonirina, V S; Rakotonirina, A; Dzikouk, G

    1997-01-01

    Dendroaspis jamesoni (Elapidae) and Echis oceliatus (Viperidae) are responsible for most of severe evenomation in Cameroon. Toxicity of venoms of these two species has been measured using mice according to the method of Spearman & Kàrber. The effect on experimental envenomation of various drugs (atropine, promethazine, neostigmine, hydrocortisone, pentosane sulfuric polyester, heparin, tranexamic acid and aminocaproic acid) and plant extracts (Schumanniophyton magnificum, Bidens pilosa, Securidaca longepedunculata and Garcinia lucida) has been observed associated or not with the antivenom lpser Afrique (SAV). The venom of D. jamesoni contains neurotoxins agonizing and antagonising acetylcholine. The toxicity of the venom did not depend on the route of injection. Atropine, promethazine, neostigmine and hydrocortisone protected animals against a venom dose up to 2 LD50. Moreover, atropine and promethazine potentiated the SAV. Similar results have been obtained with extracts from S. magnificum and B. pilosa. The venom of E. ocellatus induces haemorrhage and necrosis. The toxicity increased by 3-fold when the venom was injected through intravenous or intraperitoneal route, compared to intramuscular route. Pentosane sulfuric polyester and tranexamic acid protected mice against doses up to 3 LD50. Pentosane sulfuric polyester, hydrocortisone, heparin and aminocaproic acid increased the SAV protective titre by 50%. However, tried plant extracts weakly antagonised the venom and did not potentiate the SAV. PMID:9479470

  14. Ubiquiter circovirus sequences raise challenges in laboratory diagnosis: the case of honey bee and bee mite, reptiles, and free living amoebae.

    PubMed

    Marton, Szilvia; Ihász, Katalin; Lengyel, György; Farkas, Szilvia L; Dán, Ádám; Paulus, Petra; Bányai, Krisztián; Fehér, Enikő

    2015-03-01

    Circoviruses of pigs and birds are established pathogens, however, the exact role of other, recently described circoviruses and circovirus-like viruses remains to be elucidated. The aim of this study was the detection of circoviruses in neglected host species, including honey bees, exotic reptiles and free-living amoebae by widely used broad-spectrum polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays specific for the replication initiation protein coding gene of these viruses. The majority of sequences obtained from honey bees were highly similar to canine and porcine circoviruses, or, were distantly related to dragonfly cycloviruses. Other rep sequences detected in some honey bees, reptiles and amoebae showed similarities to various rep sequences deposited in the GenBank. Back-to-back PCR primers designed for the amplification of whole viral genomes failed to work that suggested the existence of integrated rep-like elements in many samples. Rolling circle amplification and exonuclease treatment confirmed the absence of small circular DNA genomes in the specimens analysed. In case of honey bees Varroa mite DNA contamination might be a source of the identified endogenous rep-like elements. The reptile and amoebae rep-like sequences were nearly identical with each other and with sequences detected in chimpanzee feces raising the possibility that detection of novel or unusual rep-like elements in some host species might originate from the microbial community of the host. Our results indicate that attention is needed when broad-spectrum rep gene specific polymerase chain reaction is chosen for laboratory diagnosis of circovirus infections. PMID:25823454

  15. Enzymatic analysis of venom from Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus

    PubMed Central

    Díaz-García, Alexis; Ruiz-Fuentes, Jenny Laura; Yglesias-Rivera, Arianna; Rodríguez-Sánchez, Hermis; Riquenes Garlobo, Yanelis; Fleitas Martinez, Osmel; Fraga Castro, José A

    2015-01-01

    Rhopalurus junceus scorpion venom has been identified as a natural extract with anticancer potential. Interestingly, this scorpion venom does not cause adverse symptoms in humans. However, there is scarce information about its composition and enzymatic activity. In this work, we determined the electrophoretic profile of the venom, the gelatinase and caseinolytic activity, and the phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and hemolytic activity. The effect of different venom doses (6.25, 12.5 and 25 mg/kg) on gastrocnemius muscle was also measured as CK and LDH activity in serum. The presence of hyaluronidase was determined by turbidimetric assay. The effect of different fractions obtained by gel filtration chromatography were evaluated at different concentrations (0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6mg/ml) against lung cancer cell A549 and lung normal cell MRC-5 using MTT assay. The electrophoretic profile demonstrated the presence of proteins bands around 67kDa, 43kDa, 18.4kDa and a majority band below 14.3kDa. The venom did not showed caseinolytic, gelatinase, PLA2 and hemolytic activity even at highest venom concentration used in the study. Scorpion venom only showed a significant toxic effect on gastrocnemius muscles identified by CK and LDH release after subcutaneous injection of 12.5 and 25mg/kg. Low molecular weight fractions (<4kDa) induced a significant cytotoxicity in A549 cells while high molecular weight proteins (45–60kDa) were responsible for hyaluronidase activity and toxic effect against MRC-5. Experiments indicate that Rhopalurus junceus scorpion venom has low enzymatic activity, which could contribute to the low toxic potential of this scorpion venom. PMID:26605039

  16. Practical applications of snake venom toxins in haemostasis.

    PubMed

    Marsh, Neville; Williams, Vaughan

    2005-06-15

    Snake venom toxins affecting haemostasis have facilitated extensively the routine assays of haemostatic parameters in the coagulation laboratory. Snake venom thrombin-like enzymes (SVTLE) are used for fibrinogen/fibrinogen breakdown product assay and for the detection of fibrinogen dysfunction. SVTLE are not inhibited by heparin and can thus can be used for assaying antithrombin III and other haemostatic variables in heparin-containing samples. Snake venoms are a rich source of prothrombin activators and these are utilised in prothrombin assays, for studying dysprothrombinaemias and for preparing meizothrombin and non-enzymic forms of prothrombin. Russell's viper (Daboia russelli) venom (RVV) contains toxins which have been used to assay blood clotting factors V, VII, X, platelet factor 3 and, importantly, lupus anticoagulants (LA). Other prothrombin activators (from the taipan, Australian brown snake and saw-scaled viper) have now been used to assay LA. Protein C and activated protein C resistance can be measured by means of RVV and Protac, a fast acting inhibitor from Southern copperhead snake venom and von Willebrand factor can be studied with botrocetin from Bothrops jararaca venom. The disintegrins, a large family of Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-containing snake venom proteins, show potential for studying platelet glycoprotein receptors, notably, GPIIb/IIIa and Ib. Snake venom toxins affecting haemostasis are also used in the therapeutic setting: Ancrod (from the Malayan pit viper, Calloselasma rhodostoma), in particular, has been used as an anticoagulant to achieve 'therapeutic defibrination'. Other snake venom proteins show promise in the treatment of a range of haemostatic disorders. PMID:15922782

  17. Enzymatic analysis of venom from Cuban scorpion Rhopalurus junceus.

    PubMed

    Díaz-García, Alexis; Ruiz-Fuentes, Jenny Laura; Yglesias-Rivera, Arianna; Rodríguez-Sánchez, Hermis; Riquenes Garlobo, Yanelis; Fleitas Martinez, Osmel; Fraga Castro, José A

    2015-01-01

    Rhopalurus junceus scorpion venom has been identified as a natural extract with anticancer potential. Interestingly, this scorpion venom does not cause adverse symptoms in humans. However, there is scarce information about its composition and enzymatic activity. In this work, we determined the electrophoretic profile of the venom, the gelatinase and caseinolytic activity, and the phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and hemolytic activity. The effect of different venom doses (6.25, 12.5 and 25 mg/kg) on gastrocnemius muscle was also measured as CK and LDH activity in serum. The presence of hyaluronidase was determined by turbidimetric assay. The effect of different fractions obtained by gel filtration chromatography were evaluated at different concentrations (0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.6mg/ml) against lung cancer cell A549 and lung normal cell MRC-5 using MTT assay. The electrophoretic profile demonstrated the presence of proteins bands around 67kDa, 43kDa, 18.4kDa and a majority band below 14.3kDa. The venom did not showed caseinolytic, gelatinase, PLA2 and hemolytic activity even at highest venom concentration used in the study. Scorpion venom only showed a significant toxic effect on gastrocnemius muscles identified by CK and LDH release after subcutaneous injection of 12.5 and 25mg/kg. Low molecular weight fractions (<4kDa) induced a significant cytotoxicity in A549 cells while high molecular weight proteins (45-60kDa) were responsible for hyaluronidase activity and toxic effect against MRC-5. Experiments indicate that Rhopalurus junceus scorpion venom has low enzymatic activity, which could contribute to the low toxic potential of this scorpion venom. PMID:26605039

  18. Neutralization of Apis mellifera bee venom activities by suramin.

    PubMed

    El-Kik, Camila Z; Fernandes, Fabrício F A; Tomaz, Marcelo Amorim; Gaban, Glauco A; Fonseca, Tatiane F; Calil-Elias, Sabrina; Oliveira, Suellen D S; Silva, Claudia L M; Martinez, Ana Maria Blanco; Melo, Paulo A

    2013-06-01

    In this work we evaluated the ability of suramin, a polysulfonated naphthylurea derivative, to antagonize the cytotoxic and enzymatic effects of the crude venom of Apis mellifera. Suramin was efficient to decrease the lethality in a dose-dependent way. The hemoconcentration caused by lethal dose injection of bee venom was abolished by suramin (30 μg/g). The edematogenic activity of the venom (0.3 μg/g) was antagonized by suramin (10 μg/g) in all treatment protocols. The changes in the vascular permeability caused by A. mellifera (1 μg/g) venom were inhibited by suramin (30 μg/g) in the pre- and posttreatment as well as when the venom was preincubated with suramin. In addition, suramin also inhibited cultured endothelial cell lesion, as well as in vitro myotoxicity, evaluated in mouse extensor digitorum longus muscle, which was inhibited by suramin (10 and 25 μM), decreasing the rate of CK release, showing that suramin protected the sarcolemma against damage induced by components of bee venom (2.5 μg/mL). Moreover, suramin inhibited the in vivo myotoxicity induced by i.m. injection of A. mellifera venom in mice (0.5 μg/g). The analysis of the area under the plasma CK vs. time curve showed that preincubation, pre- and posttreatment with suramin (30 μg/g) inhibited bee venom myotoxic activity in mice by about 89%, 45% and 40%, respectively. Suramin markedly inhibited the PLA2 activity in a concentration-dependent way (1-30 μM). Being suramin a polyanion molecule, the effects observed may be due to the interaction of its charges with the polycation components present in A. mellifera bee venom. PMID:23474269

  19. Scorpine, an anti-malaria and anti-bacterial agent purified from scorpion venom.

    PubMed

    Conde, R; Zamudio, F Z; Rodríguez, M H; Possani, L D

    2000-04-14

    A novel peptide, scorpine, was isolated from the venom of the scorpion Pandinus imperator, with anti-bacterial activity and a potent inhibitory effect on the ookinete (ED(50) 0.7 microM) and gamete (ED(50) 10 microM) stages of Plasmodium berghei development. It has 75 amino acids, three disulfide bridges with a molecular mass of 8350 Da. Scorpine has a unique amino acid sequence, similar only to some cecropins in its N-terminal segment and to some defensins in its C-terminal region. Its gene was cloned from a cDNA library. PMID:10767415

  20. Production and packaging of a biological arsenal: Evolution of centipede venoms under morphological constraint

    PubMed Central

    Undheim, Eivind A. B.; Hamilton, Brett R.; Kurniawan, Nyoman D.; Bowlay, Greg; Cribb, Bronwen W.; Merritt, David J.; Fry, Bryan G.; King, Glenn F.; Venter, Deon J.

    2015-01-01

    Venom represents one of the most extreme manifestations of a chemical arms race. Venoms are complex biochemical arsenals, often containing hundreds to thousands of unique protein toxins. Despite their utility for prey capture, venoms are energetically expensive commodities, and consequently it is hypothesized that venom complexity is inversely related to the capacity of a venomous animal to physically subdue prey. Centipedes, one of the oldest yet least-studied venomous lineages, appear to defy this rule. Although scutigeromorph centipedes produce less complex venom than those secreted by scolopendrid centipedes, they appear to rely heavily on venom for prey capture. We show that the venom glands are large and well developed in both scutigerid and scolopendrid species, but that scutigerid forcipules lack the adaptations that allow scolopendrids to inflict physical damage on prey and predators. Moreover, we reveal that scolopendrid venom glands have evolved to accommodate a much larger number of secretory cells and, by using imaging mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that toxin production is heterogeneous across these secretory units. We propose that the differences in venom complexity between centipede orders are largely a result of morphological restrictions of the venom gland, and consequently there is a strong correlation between the morphological and biochemical complexity of this unique venom system. The current data add to the growing body of evidence that toxins are not expressed in a spatially homogenous manner within venom glands, and they suggest that the link between ecology and toxin evolution is more complex than previously thought. PMID:25775536

  1. Production and packaging of a biological arsenal: evolution of centipede venoms under morphological constraint.

    PubMed

    Undheim, Eivind A B; Hamilton, Brett R; Kurniawan, Nyoman D; Bowlay, Greg; Cribb, Bronwen W; Merritt, David J; Fry, Bryan G; King, Glenn F; Venter, Deon J

    2015-03-31

    Venom represents one of the most extreme manifestations of a chemical arms race. Venoms are complex biochemical arsenals, often containing hundreds to thousands of unique protein toxins. Despite their utility for prey capture, venoms are energetically expensive commodities, and consequently it is hypothesized that venom complexity is inversely related to the capacity of a venomous animal to physically subdue prey. Centipedes, one of the oldest yet least-studied venomous lineages, appear to defy this rule. Although scutigeromorph centipedes produce less complex venom than those secreted by scolopendrid centipedes, they appear to rely heavily on venom for prey capture. We show that the venom glands are large and well developed in both scutigerid and scolopendrid species, but that scutigerid forcipules lack the adaptations that allow scolopendrids to inflict physical damage on prey and predators. Moreover, we reveal that scolopendrid venom glands have evolved to accommodate a much larger number of secretory cells and, by using imaging mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that toxin production is heterogeneous across these secretory units. We propose that the differences in venom complexity between centipede orders are largely a result of morphological restrictions of the venom gland, and consequently there is a strong correlation between the morphological and biochemical complexity of this unique venom system. The current data add to the growing body of evidence that toxins are not expressed in a spatially homogenous manner within venom glands, and they suggest that the link between ecology and toxin evolution is more complex than previously thought. PMID:25775536

  2. Immobilizing and lethal effects of spider venoms on the cockroach and the common mealbeetle.

    PubMed

    Friedel, T; Nentwig, W

    1989-01-01

    Immobilizing and lethal effects of the venoms obtained from six spider species (Brachypelma albopilosum, Atrax robustus, Cupiennius salei, Selenops mexicanus, Tegenaria atrica, Argiope bruennichi) were tested on Blatta orientalis (cockroach) and Tenebrio molitor (common mealbeetle). The immobilizing effects were quantified by measuring insect locomotor activity in circle arenas observed over 72 hr after venom injection. Both insect species showed cramps, quivering and jerking of the limbs as well as flaccid paralysis after venom injection. Through relative toxicity of the venoms tested is the same in T. molitor and B. orientalis, T. molitor is absolutely less sensitive to spider venoms. The effects on locomotor activity show time characteristics specific for each venom. A dependence of the venom paralyzing effects on insect locomotor activity, low intensity of the initial excitatory phase of the venom effects and partial recovery of the insects was found with A. bruennichi and T. atrica venom. The maximal venom yields of A. bruennichi and S. mexicanus are not lethal to B. orientalis, indicating that the mere immobilizing effects of spider venoms are far more crucial to prey capture than their lethal effects. The contribution of a variety of differently acting neurotoxic components in spider venoms to the observed venom effects on insects and the significance of the venoms in spider nutrition, hunting behaviour and ecology are discussed. PMID:2728023

  3. Inhibition of MEK and GSK3 supports ES cell-like domed colony formation from avian and reptile embryos.

    PubMed

    Nakanoh, Shota; Okazaki, Kenji; Agata, Kiyokazu

    2013-07-01

    As amniotes diversified, mammals may have modified mechanisms of cellular pluripotency along with the acquisition of a placenta. What then defined pluripotent states in the ancestral amniotes? To study the evolutionary background of pluripotency in amniotes, we tested the effects of extracellular effectors on primary culture cells from avian and reptile embryos in serum-free medium. When treated with a combination of a MEK inhibitor and a GSK3 inhibitor (2i condition), chicken early embryos formed domed colonies (DCs), which were morphologically indistinguishable from the colonies formed by mouse and rat naïve embryonic stem cells. However, no DCs formed when cells from further-developed embryos were cultured in the 2i condition, indicating that there is a clear boundary of DC-forming ability at around the stage of primitive streak elongation. Quail embryos at the blastoderm and cleavage stages also formed DCs in the 2i condition, which is consistent with the notion that the appearance of DCs corresponds with the presence of pluripotent cells in embryos. Gecko blastoderms also formed DCs in the 2i condition, but gastrulas did not. ERK activation by bFGF caused an effect opposite to that of the 2i condition, namely, it dispersed colonies of cells even from early embryos in all species examined. These results suggest that the regulation of pluripotency by FGF/ERK signaling may date back at least to the common ancestor of mammals, birds, and reptiles. However, gene expression analysis indicated the possibility that mammalian pluripotency transcription factors function differently in non-mammalian amniotes. PMID:23829214

  4. Snake venomics of monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia) and investigation of human IgG response against venom toxins.

    PubMed

    Laustsen, Andreas H; Gutiérrez, José María; Lohse, Brian; Rasmussen, Arne R; Fernández, Julián; Milbo, Christina;