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Sample records for reptile venom genes

  1. Common procedures with venomous reptiles.

    PubMed

    Boyer, Thomas H

    2006-05-01

    Venomous reptiles should be handled in a safe and consistent man-ner, even after death. Owners and staff should be warned not to handle the venomous reptile, and one should have emergency protocols in place before the properly bagged and encased reptile is presented. It is important to know what one is treating as well as one's limitations. After being carefully removed from the bag, the venomous reptile may be transferred to a handling container, tubed, or squeezed with the appropriate equipment. The author usually induces injectable or gas anesthesia at this point. Veterinarians who are inexperienced with venomous reptiles should learn how to handle them through a reputable seminar or class before electing to see them in their practice.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Reptiles.

    PubMed

    Shine, Richard

    2013-03-18

    Most small children can tell you that 'reptiles' are the snakes, lizards, crocodiles, and turtles (perhaps with the dinosaurs thrown in) - suggesting that it's easy to tell the difference between reptiles and other animals. Unfortunately, evolutionary biologists struggle with the same task, because phylogenetic analysis tells us loud and clear that these different types of what we loosely call 'reptiles' are not particularly closely related to each other (Figure 1). On the evolutionary tree, some of them (dinosaurs, crocodiles) are much more closely related to birds than to the other animals that we call reptiles. Other reptiles are the descendants of very ancient lineages; for example, turtles separated from the other reptiles, including the now-dominant Squamata (lizards and snakes), at least 200 million years ago. And another 200-million-year-old lineage has left just a single survivor, a lizard-like creature (the tuatara), on a few islands in New Zealand.

  6. 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)

  7. Venom Evolution: Gene Loss Shapes Phenotypic Adaptation.

    PubMed

    Casewell, Nicholas R

    2016-09-26

    Snake venoms are variable protein mixtures with a multitude of bioactivities. New work shows, surprisingly, that it is the loss of toxin-encoding genes that strongly influences venom function in rattlesnakes, highlighting how gene loss can underpin adaptive phenotypic change. PMID:27676304

  8. Unusual Stability of Messenger RNA in Snake Venom Reveals Gene Expression Dynamics of Venom Replenishment

    PubMed Central

    Currier, Rachel B.; Calvete, Juan J.; Sanz, Libia; Harrison, Robert A.; Rowley, Paul D.; Wagstaff, Simon C.

    2012-01-01

    Venom is a critical evolutionary innovation enabling venomous snakes to become successful limbless predators; it is therefore vital that venomous snakes possess a highly efficient venom production and delivery system to maintain their predatory arsenal. Here, we exploit the unusual stability of messenger RNA in venom to conduct, for the first time, quantitative PCR to characterise the dynamics of gene expression of newly synthesised venom proteins following venom depletion. Quantitative PCR directly from venom enables real-time dynamic studies of gene expression in the same animals because it circumvents the conventional requirement to sacrifice snakes to extract mRNA from dissected venom glands. Using qPCR and proteomic analysis, we show that gene expression and protein re-synthesis triggered by venom expulsion peaks between days 3–7 of the cycle of venom replenishment, with different protein families expressed in parallel. We demonstrate that venom re-synthesis occurs very rapidly following depletion of venom stores, presumably to ensure venomous snakes retain their ability to efficiently predate and remain defended from predators. The stability of mRNA in venom is biologically fascinating, and could significantly empower venom research by expanding opportunities to produce transcriptomes from historical venom stocks and rare or endangered venomous species, for new therapeutic, diagnostic and evolutionary studies. PMID:22879897

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Temperature sex reversal implies sex gene dosage in a reptile.

    PubMed

    Quinn, Alexander E; Georges, Arthur; Sarre, Stephen D; Guarino, Fiorenzo; Ezaz, Tariq; Graves, Jennifer A Marshall

    2007-04-20

    Sex in reptiles is determined by genes on sex chromosomes or by incubation temperature. Previously these two modes were thought to be distinct, yet we show that high incubation temperatures reverse genotypic males (ZZ) to phenotypic females in a lizard with ZZ and ZW sex chromosomes. Thus, the W chromosome is not necessary for female differentiation. Sex determination is probably via a dosage-sensitive male-determining gene on the Z chromosome that is inactivated by extreme temperatures. Our data invite a novel hypothesis for the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and suggest that sex chromosomes may exist in many TSD reptiles.

  12. Adaptive radiation of venomous marine snail lineages and the accelerated evolution of venom peptide genes.

    PubMed

    Olivera, Baldomero M; Watkins, Maren; Bandyopadhyay, Pradip; Imperial, Julita S; de la Cotera, Edgar P Heimer; Aguilar, Manuel B; Vera, Estuardo López; Concepcion, Gisela P; Lluisma, Arturo

    2012-09-01

    An impressive biodiversity (>10,000 species) of marine snails (suborder Toxoglossa or superfamily Conoidea) have complex venoms, each containing approximately 100 biologically active, disulfide-rich peptides. In the genus Conus, the most intensively investigated toxoglossan lineage (∼500 species), a small set of venom gene superfamilies undergo rapid sequence hyperdiversification within their mature toxin regions. Each major lineage of Toxoglossa has its own distinct set of venom gene superfamilies. Two recently identified venom gene superfamilies are expressed in the large Turridae clade, but not in Conus. Thus, as major venomous molluscan clades expand, a small set of lineage-specific venom gene superfamilies undergo accelerated evolution. The juxtaposition of extremely conserved signal sequences with hypervariable mature peptide regions is unprecedented and raises the possibility that in these gene superfamilies, the signal sequences are conserved as a result of an essential role they play in enabling rapid sequence evolution of the region of the gene that encodes the active toxin.

  13. Expression of venom gene homologs in diverse python tissues suggests a new model for the evolution of snake venom.

    PubMed

    Reyes-Velasco, Jacobo; Card, Daren C; Andrew, Audra L; Shaney, Kyle J; Adams, Richard H; Schield, Drew R; Casewell, Nicholas R; Mackessy, Stephen P; Castoe, Todd A

    2015-01-01

    Snake venom gene evolution has been studied intensively over the past several decades, yet most previous studies have lacked the context of complete snake genomes and the full context of gene expression across diverse snake tissues. We took a novel approach to studying snake venom evolution by leveraging the complete genome of the Burmese python, including information from tissue-specific patterns of gene expression. We identified the orthologs of snake venom genes in the python genome, and conducted detailed analysis of gene expression of these venom homologs to identify patterns that differ between snake venom gene families and all other genes. We found that venom gene homologs in the python are expressed in many different tissues outside of oral glands, which illustrates the pitfalls of using transcriptomic data alone to define "venom toxins." We hypothesize that the python may represent an ancestral state prior to major venom development, which is supported by our finding that the expansion of venom gene families is largely restricted to highly venomous caenophidian snakes. Therefore, the python provides insight into biases in which genes were recruited for snake venom systems. Python venom homologs are generally expressed at lower levels, have higher variance among tissues, and are expressed in fewer organs compared with all other python genes. We propose a model for the evolution of snake venoms in which venom genes are recruited preferentially from genes with particular expression profile characteristics, which facilitate a nearly neutral transition toward specialized venom system expression.

  14. Analysis of the reptile CD1 genes: evolutionary implications.

    PubMed

    Yang, Zhi; Wang, Chunyan; Wang, Tao; Bai, Jianhui; Zhao, Yu; Liu, Xuhan; Ma, Qingwei; Wu, Xiaobing; Guo, Ying; Zhao, Yaofeng; Ren, Liming

    2015-06-01

    CD1, as the third family of antigen-presenting molecules, is previously only found in mammals and chickens, which suggests that the chicken and mammalian CD1 shared a common ancestral gene emerging at least 310 million years ago. Here, we describe CD1 genes in the green anole lizard and Crocodylia, demonstrating that CD1 is ubiquitous in mammals, birds, and reptiles. Although the reptilian CD1 protein structures are predicted to be similar to human CD1d and chicken CD1.1, CD1 isotypes are not found to be orthologous between mammals, birds, and reptiles according to phylogenetic analyses, suggesting an independent diversification of CD1 isotypes during the speciation of mammals, birds, and reptiles. In the green anole lizard, although the single CD1 locus and MHC I gene are located on the same chromosome, there is an approximately 10-Mb-long sequence in between, and interestingly, several genes flanking the CD1 locus belong to the MHC paralogous region on human chromosome 19. The CD1 genes in Crocodylia are located in two loci, respectively linked to the MHC region and MHC paralogous region (corresponding to the MHC paralogous region on chromosome 19). These results provide new insights for studying the origin and evolution of CD1.

  15. 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.

  16. Epithelium specific ETS transcription factor, ESE-3, of Protobothrops flavoviridis snake venom gland transactivates the promoters of venom phospholipase A2 isozyme genes.

    PubMed

    Nakamura, Hitomi; Murakami, Tatsuo; Hattori, Shosaku; Sakaki, Yoshiyuki; Ohkuri, Takatoshi; Chijiwa, Takahito; Ohno, Motonori; Oda-Ueda, Naoko

    2014-12-15

    Protobothrops flavoviridis (habu) (Crotalinae, Viperidae) is a Japanese venomous snake, and its venom contains the enzymes with a variety of physiological activities. The phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) are the major components and exert various toxic effects. They are expressed abundantly in the venom gland. It is thought that the venom gland-specific transcription factors play a key role for activation of PLA2 genes specifically expressed in the venom gland. Thus, the full-length cDNA library for P. flavoviridis venom gland after milking of the venom was made to explore the transcription factors therein. As a result, three cDNAs encoding epithelium-specific ETS transcription factors (ESE)-1, -2, and -3 were obtained. Among them, ESE-3 was specifically expressed in the venom gland and activated the proximal promoters of venom PLA2 genes, which are possibly regarded as the representatives of the venom gland-specific protein genes in P. flavoviridis. Interestingly, the binding specificity of ESE-3 to the ETS binding motif located near TATA box is well correlated with transcriptional activities for the venom PLA2 genes. This is the first report that venom gland-specific transcription factor could actually activate the promoters of the venom protein genes.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

    2016-01-05

    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.

  6. Venom of the ectoparasitoid, Nasonia vitripennis, influences gene expression in Musca domestica hemocytes.

    PubMed

    Qian, Cen; Liu, Yang; Fang, Qi; Min-Li, Yan; Liu, Shu-Sheng; Ye, Gong-Yin; Li, Yan-Min

    2013-08-01

    Insect hosts have evolved potent innate immunity against invasion by parasitoid wasps. Host/parasitoids live in co-evolutionary relationships. Nasonia vitripennis females inject venom into their dipteran hosts just prior to laying eggs on the host's outer integument. The parasitoid larvae are ectoparasitoids because they feed on their hosts within the puparium, but do not enter the host body. We investigated the influence of N. vitripennis venom on the gene expression profile of hemocytes of their hosts, pupae of the housefly, Musca domestica. We prepared venom by isolating venom glands and treated experimental host pupae with venom. We used suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) to determine the influence of venom on hemocyte gene expression. At 1 h post treatment, we recorded decreases in transcript levels of 133 EST clones derived from forward a subtractive library of host hemocytes and upregulation in transcript levels of 111 EST clones from the reverse library. These genes are related to immune and stress response, cytoskeleton, cell cycle and apoptosis, metabolism, transport, and transcription/translation regulation. We verified the reliability of our data with reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR analysis of randomly selected genes, and with assays of enzyme activities. These analyses showed that the expression level of all selected genes were downregulated after venom treatment. Outcomes of our experiments support the hypothesis that N. vitripennis venom influences the gene expression in host hemocytes. We conclude that the actions of venom on host gene expression influence host biology in ways that benefit the development and emergence of the next generation of parasitoids.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Novel transcripts in the maxillary venom glands of advanced snakes.

    PubMed

    Fry, Bryan G; Scheib, Holger; de L M Junqueira de Azevedo, Inacio; Silva, Debora Andrade; Casewell, Nicholas R

    2012-06-01

    Venom proteins are added to reptile venoms through duplication of a body protein gene, with the duplicate tissue-specifically expressed in the venom gland. Molecular scaffolds are recruited from a wide range of tissues and with a similar level of diversity of ancestral activity. Transcriptome studies have proven an effective and efficient tool for the discovery of novel toxin scaffolds. In this study, we applied venom gland transcriptomics to a wide taxonomical diversity of advanced snakes and recovered transcripts encoding three novel protein scaffold types lacking sequence homology to any previously characterised snake toxin type: lipocalin, phospholipase A2 (type IIE) and vitelline membrane outer layer protein. In addition, the first snake maxillary venom gland isoforms were sequenced of ribonuclease, which was only recently sequenced from lizard mandibular venom glands. Further, novel isoforms were also recovered for the only recently characterised veficolin toxin class also shared between lizard and snake venoms. The additional complexity of snake venoms has important implications not only for understanding their molecular evolution, but also reinforces the tremendous importance of venoms as a diverse bio-resource.

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

    PubMed

    Toyosawa, S; O'hUigin, C; Figueroa, F; Tichy, H; Klein, J

    1998-10-27

    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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-09-14

    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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

    2015-05-07

    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.

  16. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-12-19

    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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. Gonadal morphogenesis and gene expression in reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination.

    PubMed

    Merchant-Larios, H; Díaz-Hernández, V; Marmolejo-Valencia, A

    2010-01-01

    In reptiles with temperature-dependent sexual determination, the thermosensitive period (TSP) is the interval in which the sex is defined during gonadal morphogenesis. One-shift experiments in a group of eggs define the onset and the end of the TSP as all and none responses, respectively. Timing for sex-undetermined (UG) and -determined gonads (DG) differs at male- (MPT) or female-producing temperatures (FPT). During the TSP a decreasing number of embryos respond to temperature shifts indicating that in this period embryos with both UG and DG exist. Although most UG correspond to undifferentiated gonads, some embryos extend UG after the onset of histological differentiation. Thus, temperature affects gonadal cells during the process of morphogenesis, but timing of commitment depends on individual embryos. A correlation between gonadal morphogenesis, TSP, and gene expression suggests that determination of the molecular pathways modulated by temperature in epithelial cells (surface epithelium and medullary cords) holds the key for a unifying hypothesis on temperature-dependent sex determination.

  1. 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)

  2. 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)

  3. Reptile geriatrics.

    PubMed

    Paré, Jean A; Lentini, Andrew M

    2010-01-01

    Although basic notions, such as life expectancy, and thus what constitutes old age, remain to be determined in the vast majority of reptile species, there is a tendency at least for captive reptiles to live longer now than in the past. Clinicians are expected to recognize signs of senescence or old age in reptile patients, to acquire a heightened index of suspicion for diseases likely to affect older individuals of a given species or taxon, and to provide sound advice on geriatric care of such patients. Reptiles are stoic and show few signs of aging, but subtle changes in behavior, mobility, reproduction, weight, or appetite may all signal the onset of senescence to the vigilant caregiver. Serial, for example, yearly or biannual physical examination, blood sampling, and imaging initiated at maturity or earlier are probably the most powerful tools in diagnosing, monitoring, and managing geriatric issues.

  4. 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

  5. Diversity of conotoxin gene superfamilies in the venomous snail, Conus victoriae.

    PubMed

    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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-04-22

    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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-04-22

    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.

  10. 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

  11. Expression of immune-response genes in lepidopteran host is suppressed by venom from an endoparasitoid, Pteromalus puparum

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background The relationships between parasitoids and their insect hosts have attracted attention at two levels. First, the basic biology of host-parasitoid interactions is of fundamental interest. Second, parasitoids are widely used as biological control agents in sustainable agricultural programs. Females of the gregarious endoparasitoid Pteromalus puparum (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) inject venom along with eggs into their hosts. P. puparum does not inject polydnaviruses during oviposition. For this reason, P. puparum and its pupal host, the small white butterfly Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae), comprise an excellent model system for studying the influence of an endoparasitoid venom on the biology of the pupal host. P. puparum venom suppresses the immunity of its host, although the suppressive mechanisms are not fully understood. In this study, we tested our hypothesis that P. puparum venom influences host gene expression in the two main immunity-conferring tissues, hemocytes and fat body. Results At 1 h post-venom injection, we recorded significant decreases in transcript levels of 217 EST clones (revealing 113 genes identified in silico, including 62 unknown contigs) derived from forward subtractive libraries of host hemocytes and in transcript levels of 288 EST clones (221 genes identified in silico, including 123 unknown contigs) from libraries of host fat body. These genes are related to insect immune response, cytoskeleton, cell cycle and apoptosis, metabolism, transport, stress response and transcriptional and translational regulation. We verified the reliability of the suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) data with semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis of a set of randomly selected genes. This analysis showed that most of the selected genes were down-regulated after venom injection. Conclusions Our findings support our hypothesis that P. puparum venom influences gene expression in host hemocytes and fat body. Specifically, the venom treatments led

  12. 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

  13. Pteromalus puparum venom impairs host cellular immune responses by decreasing expression of its scavenger receptor gene.

    PubMed

    Fang, Qi; Wang, Lei; Zhu, Yangkeng; Stanley, David W; Chen, Xuexin; Hu, Cui; Ye, Gongyin

    2011-11-01

    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. Although there is a rich literature on these systems, parasitoid immune-disabling mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Here we report on a newly discovered immune-disabling mechanism in the Pieris rapae/Pteromalus puparum host/parasitoid system. Because venom injections and parasitization suppresses host phagocytosis, we turned attention to the P. rapae scavenger receptor (Pr-SR), posing the hypothesis that P. puparum venom suppresses expression of the host Pr-SR gene. To test our hypothesis, we cloned a full-length cDNA of the Pr-SR. Multiple sequences alignment showed the deduced amino acid sequence of Pr-SR is similar to scavenger receptors of other lepidopterans. Bacterial and bead injections induced Pr-SR mRNA and protein expression, which peaked at 4h post-bead injection. Venom injection inhibited Pr-SR expression. Pr-SR was specifically expressed in granulocytes compared to plasmatocytes. We localized the Pr-SR protein in cytoplasm and cellular membrane, with no evidence of secretion into host plasma. Double-strand RNA designed to Pr-SR mRNA silenced expression of Pr-SR and significantly impaired host phagocytosis and encapsulation reactions. Venom injections similarly silenced Pr-SR expression during the first 8h post-treatment, after which the silencing effects gradually abated. We infer from these findings that one mechanism of impairing P. rapae hemocytic immune reactions is by silencing expression of Pr-SR.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Reptile hematology.

    PubMed

    Sykes, John M; Klaphake, Eric

    2015-01-01

    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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. Astacin-like metalloproteases are a gene family of toxins present in the venom of different species of the brown spider (genus Loxosceles).

    PubMed

    Trevisan-Silva, Dilza; Gremski, Luiza H; Chaim, Olga M; da Silveira, Rafael B; Meissner, Gabriel O; Mangili, Oldemir C; Barbaro, Katia C; Gremski, Waldemiro; Veiga, Silvio S; Senff-Ribeiro, Andrea

    2010-01-01

    Brown spiders have a worldwide distribution, and their venom has a complex composition containing many different molecules. Herein, we report the existence of a family of astacin-like metalloprotease toxins in Loxosceles intermedia venom, as well as in the venom of different species of Loxosceles. Using a cDNA library from the L. intermedia venom gland, we cloned two novel cDNAs encoding astacin-like metalloprotease toxins, LALP2 and LALP3. Using an anti-serum against the previously described astacin-like toxin in L. intermedia venom (LALP1), we detected the presence of immunologically-related toxins in the venoms of L. intermedia, Loxosceles laeta, and Loxosceles gaucho. Zymographic experiments showed gelatinolytic activity of crude venoms of L. intermedia, L. laeta, and L. gaucho (which could be inhibited by the divalent metal chelator 1,10-phenanthroline) at electrophoretic mobilities identical to those reported for immunological cross-reactivity. Moreover, mRNAs extracted from L. laeta and L. gaucho venom glands were screened for astacin-like metalloproteases, and cDNAs obtained using LALP1-specific primers were sequenced, and their deduced amino acid sequences confirmed they were members of the astacin family with the family signatures (HEXXHXXGXXHE and MXY), LALP4 and LALP5, respectively. Sequence comparison of deduced amino acid sequences revealed that LALP2, LALP3, LALP4, and LALP5 are related to the astacin family. This study identified the existence of gene family of astacin-like toxins in the venoms of brown spiders and raises the possibility that these molecules are involved in the deleterious effects triggered by the venom.

  5. Viruses infecting reptiles.

    PubMed

    Marschang, Rachel E

    2011-11-01

    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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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

  8. Reptile Soft Tissue Surgery.

    PubMed

    Di Girolamo, Nicola; Mans, Christoph

    2016-01-01

    The surgical approach to reptiles can be challenging. Reptiles have unique physiologic, anatomic, and pathologic differences. This may result in frustrating surgical experiences. However, recent investigations provided novel, less invasive, surgical techniques. The purpose of this review was to describe the technical aspects behind soft tissue surgical techniques that have been used in reptiles, so as to provide a general guideline for veterinarians working with reptiles.

  9. Discovery of toxin-encoding genes from the false viper Macropisthodon rudis, a rear-fanged snake, by transcriptome analysis of venom gland.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Zhixiao; Zhang, Xi; Hu, Tingsong; Zhou, Weiguo; Cui, Qinghua; Tian, Jing; Zheng, Ying; Fan, Quanshui

    2015-11-01

    Although rear-fanged snakes are often considered as non-threatening to humans, some species are lethal or medically hazardous. The toxin components and bioactivities of front-fanged snakes have been extensively studied; however, only limited research has explored the venoms of rear-fanged snakes. The false viper, Macropisthodon rudis, is widespread in southern China, but little is known about the toxins that this snake produces. Here, we analyzed the transcriptome of the venom gland of M. rudis using high-throughput sequencing with an illumina HiSeq 2000. The raw data were assembled and annotated using public databases. The Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways and gene ontology (GO) were analyzed. Using sequence comparisons, snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) and a phosphodiesterase (PDE) were discovered in the venom gland of M. rudis.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Venom of Parasitoid, Pteromalus puparum, Suppresses Host, Pieris rapae, Immune Promotion by Decreasing Host C-Type Lectin Gene Expression

    PubMed Central

    Fang, Qi; Wang, Fei; Gatehouse, John A.; Gatehouse, Angharad M. R.; Chen, Xue-xin; Hu, Cui; Ye, Gong-yin

    2011-01-01

    Background Insect hosts have evolved immunity against invasion by parasitoids, and in co-evolutionary response parasitoids have also developed strategies to overcome host immune systems. The mechanisms through which parasitoid venoms disrupt the promotion of host immunity are still unclear. We report here a new mechanism evolved by parasitoid Pteromalus puparum, whose venom inhibited the promotion of immunity in its host Pieris rapae (cabbage white butterfly). Methodology/Principal Findings A full-length cDNA encoding a C-type lectin (Pr-CTL) was isolated from P. rapae. Quantitative PCR and immunoblotting showed that injection of bacterial and inert beads induced expression of Pr-CTL, with peaks of mRNA and Pr-CTL protein levels at 4 and 8 h post beads challenge, respectively. In contrast, parasitoid venom suppressed Pr-CTL expression when co-injected with beads, in a time and dose-dependent manner. Immunolocalization and immunoblotting results showed that Pr-CTL was first detectable in vesicles present in cytoplasm of granulocytes in host hemolymph, and was then secreted from cells into circulatory fluid. Finally, the secreted Pr-CTL bound to cellular membranes of both granulocytes and plasmatocytes. Injection of double-stranded RNA specific for target gene decreased expression of Pr-CTL, and a few other host immune-related genes. Suppression of Pr-CTL expression also down-regulated antimicrobial and phenoloxidase activities, and reducing phagocytotic and encapsulation rates in host. The inhibitory effect of parasitoid venom on host encapsulation is consistent with its effect in suppressing Pr-CTL expression. Binding assay results showed that recombinant Pr-CTL directly attached to the surface of P. puparum egges. We infer that Pr-CTL may serve as an immune signalling co-effector, first binding to parasitoid eggs, regulating expression of a set of immune-related genes and promoting host immunity. Conclusions/Significance P. puparum venom inhibits promotion of host

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. Diagnostic hematology of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Stacy, Nicole I; Alleman, A Rick; Sayler, Katherine A

    2011-03-01

    The hematologic evaluation of reptiles is an indispensable diagnostic tool in exotic veterinary practice. The diversity of reptile species, their characteristic physiologic features, and effects of intrinsic and extrinsic factors present unique challenges for accurate interpretation of the hemogram. Combining the clinical presentation with hematologic findings provides valuable information in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease and helps guide the clinician toward therapy and further diagnostic testing. This article outlines the normal and pathologic morphology of blood cells of reptile species. The specific comparative aspects of reptiles are emphasized, and structural and functional abnormalities in the reptilian hemogram are described.

  20. Reptile wellness management.

    PubMed

    Wilkinson, Stacey Leonatti

    2015-05-01

    Proper care and husbandry are the most important factors in keeping captive reptiles healthy. Improper nutrition, supplementation, caging, lighting, substrate, temperature, and humidity can all lead to stress and development of disease. Presented here are current recommendations for keeping captive reptiles. Care has moved away from sterile, spartan enclosures to larger, more naturalistic habitats. These habitats provide more space and choices for the reptile, leading to higher activity levels, reduced stress, and more opportunities to exhibit natural behaviors. Reptiles benefit from enrichment and are amenable to training in order to reduce stress and allow easier handling and veterinary care.

  1. Extraction of venom and venom gland microdissections from spiders for proteomic and transcriptomic analyses.

    PubMed

    Garb, Jessica E

    2014-11-03

    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.

  2. 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

  3. Interisland variegation of venom [Lys(49)]phospholipase A2 isozyme genes in Protobothrops genus snakes in the southwestern islands of Japan.

    PubMed

    Yamaguchi, Kazuaki; Chijiwa, Takahito; Yamamura, Takeshi; Ikeda, Naoki; Yatsui, Takayo; Hayama, Setsuko; Hattori, Shosaku; Oda-Ueda, Naoko; Ohno, Motonori

    2015-12-01

    Protobothrops tokarensis (Pt), a Crotalinae snake, inhabits only Takarajima and Kodakarajima islands of the Tokara Islands located in the immediate north of Amami-Oshima island of Japan. Kodakarajima P. tokarensis venom gland cDNA library gave four types of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) cDNAs encoding neutral [Asp(49)]PLA2, basic [Asp(49)]PLA2, highly basic [Asp(49)]PLA2, and [Lys(49)]PLA2. As the amino acid sequences encoded by their open reading frames (ORFs) were identical to those of PLA2, PLA-B, PLA-N, and BPI (a [Lys(49)]PLA2), respectively, from Amami-Oshima P. flavoviridis (Pf) venom, they were named PtPLA2, PtPLA-B, PtPLA-N, and PtBPI. Chromatography of P. tokarensis venom gave three PLA2 isozymes, PtPLA2, PtPLA-B, and PtBPI. However, BPII and BPIII ([Lys(49)]PLA2s) expressed in Amami-Oshima P. flavoviridis venom were not found in P. tokarensis venom. Genomic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for P. tokarensis liver DNAs with the unique primers gave PtBPI gene. Notably it was found that LINE (long interspersed nuclear element)-1 fragment is inserted into second intron of PtBPI gene. The LINE-1 fragment may prevent duplication of PtBPI gene and thus formation of plural [Lys(49)]PLA2 genes in P. tokarensis genome. The interisland variegation of venom [Lys(49)]PLA2 isozyme genes in Protobothrops genus snakes in the southwestern islands of Japan is discussed.

  4. Molecular evidence of Chlamydophila pneumoniae infection in reptiles in Argentina.

    PubMed

    Frutos, María C; Monetti, Marina S; Ré, Viviana E; Cuffini, Cecilia G

    2014-01-01

    In the central area of Argentina, the epidemiological and molecular characteristics of Chlamydophila pneumoniae infections in reptiles are still unknown. A nested polymerase chain reaction of the rpoB gene was used to detect C. pneumoniae in cloacal swab samples from 19 reptiles at a recreational area. Eleven (57.89%) reptiles were positive; the sequencing and phylogenetic analysis confirmed the presence of this bacterium. Neither C. pneumoniae DNA in the caregivers pharynges nor IgM antibodies anti-C. pneumoniae in their serum samples were detected; however, caregivers presented very high titers of IgG anti-C. pneumoniae. The detection of C. pneumoniae DNA in reptiles demonstrated the circulation of this agent in the recreational area and could be responsible for the exacerbated immune response of the personnel handling the reptiles, which suggests a potential zoonotic cycle. This is the first report of the detection of C. pneumoniae in reptiles in Argentina.

  5. Testing the "toxin hypothesis of allergy": Mast cells, IgE, and innate and acquired immune responses to venoms*

    PubMed Central

    Tsai, Mindy; Starkl, Philipp; Marichal, Thomas; Galli, Stephen J.

    2015-01-01

    Summary Work in mice indicates that innate functions of mast cells, particularly degradation of venom toxins by mast cell-derived proteases, can enhance resistance to certain arthropod or reptile venoms. Recent reports indicate that acquired Th2 immune responses associated with the production of IgE antibodies, induced by Russell’s viper venom or honeybee venom, or by a component of honeybee venom, bee venom phospholipase 2 (bvPLA2), can increase the resistance of mice to challenge with potentially lethal doses of either of the venoms or bvPLA2. These findings support the conclusion that, in contrast to the detrimental effects associated with allergic Th2 immune responses, mast cells and IgE-dependent immune responses to venoms can contribute to innate and adaptive resistance to venom-induced pathology and mortality. PMID:26210895

  6. 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.

  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. Extreme diversity of scorpion venom peptides and proteins revealed by transcriptomic analysis: implication for proteome evolution of scorpion venom arsenal.

    PubMed

    Ma, Yibao; He, Yawen; Zhao, Ruiming; Wu, Yingliang; Li, Wenxin; Cao, Zhijian

    2012-02-16

    Venom is an important genetic development crucial to the survival of scorpions for over 400 million years. We studied the evolution of the scorpion venom arsenal by means of comparative transcriptome analysis of venom glands and phylogenetic analysis of shared types of venom peptides and proteins between buthids and euscorpiids. Fifteen types of venom peptides and proteins were sequenced during the venom gland transcriptome analyses of two Buthidae species (Lychas mucronatus and Isometrus maculatus) and one Euscorpiidae species (Scorpiops margerisonae). Great diversity has been observed in translated amino acid sequences of these transcripts for venom peptides and proteins. Seven types of venom peptides and proteins were shared between buthids and euscorpiids. Molecular phylogenetic analysis revealed that at least five of the seven common types of venom peptides and proteins were likely recruited into the scorpion venom proteome before the lineage split between Buthidae and Euscorpiidae with their corresponding genes undergoing individual or multiple gene duplication events. These are α-KTxs, βKSPNs (β-KTxs and scorpines), anionic peptides, La1-like peptides, and SPSVs (serine proteases from scorpion venom). Multiple types of venom peptides and proteins were demonstrated to be continuously recruited into the venom proteome during the evolution process of individual scorpion lineages. Our results provide an insight into the recruitment pattern of the scorpion venom arsenal for the first time.

  9. Invasive reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    Moutou, F; Pastoret, P P

    2010-08-01

    Although they are frequently lumped together, reptiles and amphibians belong to two very different zoological groups. Nevertheless, one fact is clear: while numerous reptile and amphibian species on Earth are in decline, others have taken advantage of trade or human movements to become established in new lands, adopting different, and sometimes unusual, strategies. The authors have taken a few examples from these two zoological groups that illustrate the majority of cases. A brief analysis of the causes and effects of their introductions into new areas reveals connections with economic interests, trade in companion animals, medical research and public health.

  10. 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…

  11. 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

  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. 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 ...

  14. Approach to Reptile Emergency Medicine.

    PubMed

    Long, Simon Y

    2016-05-01

    This article summarizes the physiology and anatomy of reptiles, highlighting points relevant for emergency room veterinarians. Other systems, such as the endocrine and immune systems, have not been covered. The many other aspects of reptile species variation are too numerous to be covered. This article provides an overview but encourages clinicians to seek additional species-specific information to better medically diagnose and treat their reptile patients.

  15. 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.

  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. Nutritional support of reptile patients.

    PubMed

    De Voe, Ryan S

    2014-05-01

    Providing nutritional support to reptile patients is a challenging and often misunderstood task. Ill reptiles are frequently anorexic and can benefit greatly from appropriate nutrition delivered via a variety of assist-feeding techniques. Neonatal reptiles can also be very challenging patients because many fail to thrive without significant efforts to establish normal feeding behaviors. This article presents ideas supporting the benefit of timely nutritional support as well as specific recommendations for implementation of assist feeding. Also discussed are a few nutritional issues that affect captive reptile species.

  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. 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

  20. King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) bites in Myanmar: venom antigen levels and development of venom antibodies.

    PubMed

    Tun-Pe; Aye-Aye-Myint; Warrell, D A; Tin-Myint

    1995-03-01

    Venom, venom IgG and IgM antibody and total serum IgG levels following king cobra bites in two reptile handlers were measured by enzyme immunoassay. The patient in case 1 received antivenom while the patient in case 2 did not. Case 1 made a complete recovery following the bite and produced a high titre short-lived antibody. Venom antigen was not detected in the sample taken 11 hr after antivenom. Case 2 had experienced two recent minor king cobra bites and had received traditional immunization 4 weeks before the accident reported here. He had developed only local swelling and suffered no neurological symptoms. Venom antigen measured at 1.45 hr after the bite was 132 ng/ml; this rapidly fell to 45 ng/ml over the next 30 min, and was no longer detectable 14 hr after the bite. The pattern of venom IgG and IgM antibody responses in both cases was comparable, except that in case 2 the venom IgG peak was maintained for 13 days, compared with 1 day in case 1; in case 2 it subsequently fell to low levels 8 weeks after the bite. Venom IgM appeared 1 day after the bite, peaked at day 7-9, rapidly tailed off on day 12-16 and was then undetectable from day 20 onwards in both. Total IgG level remained within normal limits in both. It is possible that previous bites and recent immunization contributed to the boosting of the venom IgG response in case 2.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Molecular mechanisms of sex determination in reptiles.

    PubMed

    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.

  5. Evidence that the genes encoding the melittin-related peptides in the skins of the Japanese frogs Rana sakuraii and Rana tagoi are not orthologous to bee venom melittin genes: developmental- and tissue-dependent gene expression.

    PubMed

    Suzuki, Hiroe; Conlon, J Michael; Iwamuro, Shawichi

    2007-10-01

    The antimicrobial melittin-related peptides (MRPs) isolated from skin extracts of the Japanese frogs, Rana sakuraii and Rana tagoi, show amino acid sequence similarity with melittin from the venom of honeybees but the evolutionary relationship between the amphibian and insect peptides is unknown. cDNA clones encoding the MRP precursor (preproMRP) were obtained from R. sakuraii and R. tagoi skin total RNA. The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the clones indicated that the preproMRPs are organized like typical amphibian antimicrobial peptide precursors, with a highly conserved signal peptide, a more variable intervening sequence, and a hypervariable mature peptide region. This organization is markedly different from that of prepromelittin, in which the melittin sequence is flanked by multiple Xaa-Pro and Xaa-Ala dipeptides. The data indicate, therefore, that the genes encoding frog skin MRPs are not orthologous to the genes encoding melittins from bee venom. In adult R. sakuraii specimens, preproMRP gene transcripts were detected in total RNA from skeletal muscle as well as skin but not from heart, stomach, small intestine, or liver. In R. tagoi, preproMRP mRNA was not detected in skin prior to the onset of metamorphosis, but its level increased markedly during metamorphosis reaching a maximum at the stages of metamorphic climax. PMID:17826868

  6. The Deep Origin and Recent Loss of Venom Toxin Genes in Rattlesnakes.

    PubMed

    Dowell, Noah L; Giorgianni, Matt W; Kassner, Victoria A; Selegue, Jane E; Sanchez, Elda E; Carroll, Sean B

    2016-09-26

    The genetic origin of novel traits is a central but challenging puzzle in evolutionary biology. Among snakes, phospholipase A2 (PLA2)-related toxins have evolved in different lineages to function as potent neurotoxins, myotoxins, or hemotoxins. Here, we traced the genomic origin and evolution of PLA2 toxins by examining PLA2 gene number, organization, and expression in both neurotoxic and non-neurotoxic rattlesnakes. We found that even though most North American rattlesnakes do not produce neurotoxins, the genes of a specialized heterodimeric neurotoxin predate the origin of rattlesnakes and were present in their last common ancestor (∼22 mya). The neurotoxin genes were then deleted independently in the lineages leading to the Western Diamondback (Crotalus atrox) and Eastern Diamondback (C. adamanteus) rattlesnakes (∼6 mya), while a PLA2 myotoxin gene retained in C. atrox was deleted from the neurotoxic Mojave rattlesnake (C. scutulatus; ∼4 mya). The rapid evolution of PLA2 gene number appears to be due to transposon invasion that provided a template for non-allelic homologous recombination. PMID:27641771

  7. Venomous snakebites.

    PubMed

    Adukauskienė, Dalia; Varanauskienė, Eglė; Adukauskaitė, Agnė

    2011-01-01

    More than 5 million people are bitten by venomous snakes annually and more than 100,000 of them die. In Europe, one person dies due to envenomation every 3 years. There is only one venomous snake species in Lithuania--the common adder (Vipera berus)--which belongs to the Viperidae family; however, there are some exotic poisonous snakes in the zoos and private collections, such as those belonging to the Elapidae family (cobras, mambas, coral snakes, etc.) and the Crotalidae subfamily of the Viperidae family (pit vipers, such as rattlesnakes). Snake venom can be classified into hemotoxic, neurotoxic, necrotoxic, cardiotoxic, and nephrotoxic according to the different predominant effects depending on the family (i.e., venom of Crotalidae and Viperidae snakes is more hemotoxic and necrotoxic, whereas venom of Elapidae family is mainly neurotoxic). The intoxication degree is estimated according to the appearance of these symptoms: 1) no intoxication ("dry" bite); 2) mild intoxication (local edema and pain); 3) moderate intoxication (pain, edema spreading out of the bite zone, and systemic signs); 4) severe intoxication (shock, severe coagulopathy, and massive edemas). This topic is relevant because people tend to make major mistakes providing first aid (e.g., mouth suction, wound incision, and application of ice or heat). Therefore, this article presents the essential tips on how first aid should be performed properly according to the "Guidelines for the Management of Snake-Bites" by the World Health Organization (2010). Firstly, the victim should be reassured. Rings or other things must be removed preventing constriction of the swelling limb. Airway/breathing must be maintained. The bitten limb should be immobilized and kept below heart level to prevent venom absorption and systemic spread. Usage of pressure bandage is controversial since people usually apply it improperly. Incision, mouth suction, or excision should not be performed; neither a tourniquet nor ice or

  8. Reappraisal of Vipera aspis Venom Neurotoxicity

    PubMed Central

    Ferquel, Elisabeth; de Haro, Luc; Jan, Virginie; Guillemin, Isabelle; Jourdain, Sabine; Teynié, Alexandre; d'Alayer, Jacques; Choumet, Valérie

    2007-01-01

    Background The variation of venom composition with geography is an important aspect of intraspecific variability in the Vipera genus, although causes of this variability remain unclear. The diversity of snake venom is important both for our understanding of venomous snake evolution and for the preparation of relevant antivenoms to treat envenomations. A geographic intraspecific variation in snake venom composition was recently reported for Vipera aspis aspis venom in France. Since 1992, cases of human envenomation after Vipera aspis aspis bites in south-east France involving unexpected neurological signs were regularly reported. The presence of genes encoding PLA2 neurotoxins in the Vaa snake genome led us to investigate any neurological symptom associated with snake bites in other regions of France and in neighboring countries. In parallel, we used several approaches to characterize the venom PLA2 composition of the snakes captured in the same areas. Methodology/Principal Findings We conducted an epidemiological survey of snake bites in various regions of France. In parallel, we carried out the analysis of the genes and the transcripts encoding venom PLA2s. We used SELDI technology to study the diversity of PLA2 in various venom samples. Neurological signs (mainly cranial nerve disturbances) were reported after snake bites in three regions of France: Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrénées and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. Genomes of Vipera aspis snakes from south-east France were shown to contain ammodytoxin isoforms never described in the genome of Vipera aspis from other French regions. Surprisingly, transcripts encoding venom neurotoxic PLA2s were found in snakes of Massif Central region. Accordingly, SELDI analysis of PLA2 venom composition confirmed the existence of population of neurotoxic Vipera aspis snakes in the west part of the Massif Central mountains. Conclusions/Significance The association of epidemiological studies to genetic, biochemical and

  9. Molecular cloning, expression, function and immunoreactivities of members of a gene family of sphingomyelinases from Loxosceles venom glands.

    PubMed

    Tambourgi, Denise V; de F Fernandes Pedrosa, Matheus; van den Berg, Carmen W; Gonçalves-de-Andrade, Rute M; Ferracini, Matheus; Paixão-Cavalcante, Danielle; Morgan, B Paul; Rushmere, Neil K

    2004-07-01

    Loxoscelism is the clinical condition produced by the venom of spiders belonging to the genus Loxosceles, which can be observed as two well-defined clinical variants: cutaneous loxoscelism and systemic or viscerocutaneous loxoscelism. We have recently identified, purified and characterised the toxins (sphingomyelinases) from Loxosceles intermedia venom that are responsible for all the local (dermonecrosis) and systemic effects (complement dependent haemolysis) induced by whole venom. In the present study, we have cloned and expressed the two functional sphingomyelinases isoforms, P1 and P2, and shown that the recombinant proteins display all the functional characteristics of whole L. intermedia venom, e.g., dermonecrotic and complement-dependent hemolytic activities and ability of hydrolyzing sphingomyelin. We have also compared the cross-reactivities of antisera raised against the toxins from different Loxosceles species and show here that the cross-reactivity is high when toxins are from the same species (P1 and P2 from L. intermedia) but low when the toxins are from different species (L. intermedia versus L. laeta). These data suggest that in order to obtain a suitable comprehensive neutralizing antiserum using the recombinant toxin as an immunogen, a mixture of the recombinant toxins from the different species has to be used. The use of anti-recombinant toxin antisera may have clinical benefits to those individuals displaying acute loxoscelic lesions.

  10. 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

  11. Clinical aspects of reptile behavior.

    PubMed

    Hernandez-Divers, S J

    2001-09-01

    At first glance, the abstract world of reptile ethology may seem remote to clinicians dealing with the health and disease of captive animals. By delving a little deeper, however, veterinarians can learn to appreciate the reasons for certain behaviors and actually use these behaviors as indicators of various biologic states. Close scrutiny of subtle changes in behavior can further help assess reptile well-being and judge captive welfare. In the future, it is hoped that improved ethologic understanding will result in behavioral enrichment for reptiles, as is already promoted for many nondomestic mammals and birds.

  12. Reptile scale paradigm: Evo-Devo, pattern formation and regeneration.

    PubMed

    Chang, Cheng; Wu, Ping; Baker, Ruth E; Maini, Philip K; Alibardi, Lorenzo; Chuong, Cheng-Ming

    2009-01-01

    The purpose of this perspective is to highlight the merit of the reptile integument as an experimental model. Reptiles represent the first amniotes. From stem reptiles, extant reptiles, birds and mammals have evolved. Mammal hairs and feathers evolved from Therapsid and Sauropsid reptiles, respectively. The early reptilian integument had to adapt to the challenges of terrestrial life, developing a multi-layered stratum corneum capable of barrier function and ultraviolet protection. For better mechanical protection, diverse reptilian scale types have evolved. The evolution of endothermy has driven the convergent evolution of hair and feather follicles: both form multiple localized growth units with stem cells and transient amplifying cells protected in the proximal follicle. This topological arrangement allows them to elongate, molt and regenerate without structural constraints. Another unique feature of reptile skin is the exquisite arrangement of scales and pigment patterns, making them testable models for mechanisms of pattern formation. Since they face the constant threat of damage on land, different strategies were developed to accommodate skin homeostasis and regeneration. Temporally, they can be under continuous renewal or sloughing cycles. Spatially, they can be diffuse or form discrete localized growth units (follicles). To understand how gene regulatory networks evolved to produce increasingly complex ectodermal organs, we have to study how prototypic scale-forming pathways in reptiles are modulated to produce appendage novelties. Despite the fact that there are numerous studies of reptile scales, molecular analyses have lagged behind. Here, we underscore how further development of this novel experimental model will be valuable in filling the gaps of our understanding of the Evo-Devo of amniote integuments.

  13. Reptile scale paradigm: Evo-Devo, pattern formation and regeneration

    PubMed Central

    Chang, Cheng; Wu, Ping; Baker, Ruth E.; Maini, Philip K.; Alibardi, Lorenzo; Chuong, Cheng-Ming

    2010-01-01

    The purpose of this perspective is to highlight the merit of the reptile integument as an experimental model. Reptiles represent the first amniotes. From stem reptiles, extant reptiles, birds and mammals have evolved. Mammal hairs and feathers evolved from Therapsid and Sauropsid reptiles, respectively. The early reptilian integument had to adapt to the challenges of terrestrial life, developing a multi-layered stratum corneum capable of barrier function and ultraviolet protection. For better mechanical protection, diverse reptilian scale types have evolved. The evolution of endothermy has driven the convergent evolution of hair and feather follicles: both form multiple localized growth units with stem cells and transient amplifying cells protected in the proximal follicle. This topological arrangement allows them to elongate, molt and regenerate without structural constraints. Another unique feature of reptile skin is the exquisite arrangement of scales and pigment patterns, making them testable models for mechanisms of pattern formation. Since they face the constant threat of damage on land, different strategies were developed to accommodate skin homeostasis and regeneration. Temporally, they can be under continuous renewal or sloughing cycles. Spatially, they can be diffuse or form discrete localized growth units (follicles). To understand how gene regulatory networks evolved to produce increasingly complex ectodermal organs, we have to study how prototypic scale-forming pathways in reptiles are modulated to produce appendage novelties. Despite the fact that there are numerous studies of reptile scales, molecular analyses have lagged behind. Here, we underscore how further development of this novel experimental model will be valuable in filling the gaps of our understanding of the Evo-Devo of amniote integuments. PMID:19557687

  14. Genes and evolution of two-domain toxins from lynx spider venom.

    PubMed

    Sachkova, Maria Y; Slavokhotova, Anna A; Grishin, Eugene V; Vassilevski, Alexander A

    2014-03-01

    Spiderines are comparatively long polypeptide toxins (∼110 residues) from lynx spiders (genus Oxyopes). They are built of an N-terminal linear cationic domain (∼40 residues) and a C-terminal knottin domain (∼60 residues). The linear domain empowers spiderines with strong cytolytic activity. In the present work we report 16 novel spiderine sequences from Oxyopes takobius and Oxyopes lineatus classified into two subfamilies. Strikingly, negative selection acts on both linear and knottin domains. Genes encoding Oxyopes two-domain toxins were sequenced and found to be intronless. We further discuss a possible scenario of lynx spider modular toxin evolution.

  15. Up-regulation of the expressions of phospholipase A2 inhibitors in the liver of a venomous snake by its own venom phospholipase A2.

    PubMed

    Kinkawa, Kohshi; Shirai, Ryoichi; Watanabe, Shin; Toriba, Michihisa; Hayashi, Kyozo; Ikeda, Kiyoshi; Inoue, Seiji

    2010-05-01

    Venomous snakes such as Gloydius brevicaudus have three distinct types of phospholipase A(2) inhibitors (PLIalpha, PLIbeta, and PLIgamma) in their blood so as to protect themselves from their own venom phospholipases A(2) (PLA(2)s). Expressions of these PLIs in G. brevicaudus liver were found to be enhanced by the intramuscular injection of its own venom. The enhancement of gene expressions of PLIalpha and PLIbeta in the liver was also found to be induced by acidic PLA(2) contained in this venom. Furthermore, these effects of acidic PLA(2) on gene expression of PLIs were shown to be unrelated to its enzymatic activity. These results suggest that these venomous snakes have developed the self-protective system against their own venom, by which the venom components up-regulate the expression of anti-venom proteins in their liver.

  16. 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)

  17. 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.

  18. Preserving reptiles for research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

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

    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

  19. Venom components from Citharischius crawshayi spider (Family Theraphosidae): exploring transcriptome, venomics, and function.

    PubMed

    Diego-García, Elia; Peigneur, Steve; Waelkens, Etienne; Debaveye, Sarah; Tytgat, Jan

    2010-08-01

    Despite strong efforts, knowledge about the composition of the venom of many spider species remains very limited. This work is the first report of transcriptome and venom analysis of the African spider Citharischius crawshayi. We used combined protocols of transcriptomics, venomics, and biological assays to characterize the venom and genes expressed in venom glands. A cDNA library of the venom glands was constructed and used to generate expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Sequence comparisons from 236 ESTs revealed interesting and unique sequences, corresponding to toxin-like and other components. Mass spectrometrical analysis of venom fractions showed more than 600 molecular masses, some of which showed toxic activity on crickets and modulated sodium currents in DmNa(v)1 and Na(v)1.6 channels as expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Taken together, our results may contribute to a better understanding of the cellular processes involved in the transcriptome and help us to discover new components from spider venom glands with therapeutic potential.

  20. 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

  1. Paramyxoviruses in reptiles: a review.

    PubMed

    Hyndman, Timothy H; Shilton, Cathy M; Marschang, Rachel E

    2013-08-30

    In 1972, an outbreak of neurorespiratory disease in a Swiss serpentarium formed the basis for the first description of a paramyxovirus isolated from a reptile. In the forty years since this outbreak, there have been over 50 published reports about reptilian paramyxoviruses from all over the world. The majority of these investigations have concerned themselves with ferlaviruses (sometimes previously referred to as ophidian paramyxoviruses, or OPMV). The biology of these viruses is reviewed and this is followed by a review of the clinical findings that are associated with ferlaviral infection and the various diagnostic tests that are used to identify infected reptiles. Recently, a second, and highly divergent, reptilian paramyxovirus, Sunshine virus, was described in Australian pythons, so it is an opportune time to reflect on the paramyxoviruses that infect reptiles.

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Genomic V exons from whole genome shotgun data in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Olivieri, D N; von Haeften, B; Sánchez-Espinel, C; Faro, J; Gambón-Deza, F

    2014-08-01

    Reptiles and mammals diverged over 300 million years ago, creating two parallel evolutionary lineages amongst terrestrial vertebrates. In reptiles, two main evolutionary lines emerged: one gave rise to Squamata, while the other gave rise to Testudines, Crocodylia, and Aves. In this study, we determined the genomic variable (V) exons from whole genome shotgun sequencing (WGS) data in reptiles corresponding to the three main immunoglobulin (IG) loci and the four main T cell receptor (TR) loci. We show that Squamata lack the TRG and TRD genes, and snakes lack the IGKV genes. In representative species of Testudines and Crocodylia, the seven major IG and TR loci are maintained. As in mammals, genes of the IG loci can be grouped into well-defined IMGT clans through a multi-species phylogenetic analysis. We show that the reptilian IGHV and IGLV genes are distributed amongst the established mammalian clans, while their IGKV genes are found within a single clan, nearly exclusive from the mammalian sequences. The reptilian and mammalian TRAV genes cluster into six common evolutionary clades (since IMGT clans have not been defined for TR). In contrast, the reptilian TRBV genes cluster into three clades, which have few mammalian members. In this locus, the V exon sequences from mammals appear to have undergone different evolutionary diversification processes that occurred outside these shared reptilian clans. These sequences can be obtained in a freely available public repository (http://vgenerepertoire.org).

  9. 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

  10. Functional and structural diversification of the Anguimorpha lizard venom system.

    PubMed

    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

    2010-11-01

    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 A(2) 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

  11. Venomous mammals: a review.

    PubMed

    Ligabue-Braun, Rodrigo; Verli, Hugo; Carlini, Célia Regina

    2012-06-01

    The occurrence of venom in mammals has long been considered of minor importance, but recent fossil discoveries and advances in experimental techniques have cast new light into this subject. Mammalian venoms form a heterogeneous group having different compositions and modes of action and are present in three classes of mammals, Insectivora, Monotremata, and Chiroptera. A fourth order, Primates, is proposed to have venomous representatives. In this review we highlight recent advances in the field while summarizing biochemical characteristics of these secretions and their effects upon humans and other animals. Historical aspects of venom discovery and evolutionary hypothesis regarding their origin are also discussed.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. The venom optimization hypothesis revisited.

    PubMed

    Morgenstern, David; King, Glenn F

    2013-03-01

    Animal venoms are complex chemical mixtures that typically contain hundreds of proteins and non-proteinaceous compounds, resulting in a potent weapon for prey immobilization and predator deterrence. However, because venoms are protein-rich, they come with a high metabolic price tag. The metabolic cost of venom is sufficiently high to result in secondary loss of venom whenever its use becomes non-essential to survival of the animal. The high metabolic cost of venom leads to the prediction that venomous animals may have evolved strategies for minimizing venom expenditure. Indeed, various behaviors have been identified that appear consistent with frugality of venom use. This has led to formulation of the "venom optimization hypothesis" (Wigger et al. (2002) Toxicon 40, 749-752), also known as "venom metering", which postulates that venom is metabolically expensive and therefore used frugally through behavioral control. Here, we review the available data concerning economy of venom use by animals with either ancient or more recently evolved venom systems. We conclude that the convergent nature of the evidence in multiple taxa strongly suggests the existence of evolutionary pressures favoring frugal use of venom. However, there remains an unresolved dichotomy between this economy of venom use and the lavish biochemical complexity of venom, which includes a high degree of functional redundancy. We discuss the evidence for biochemical optimization of venom as a means of resolving this conundrum.

  15. 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

    2014-05-06

    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.

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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

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

    PubMed

    Luna-Ramírez, Karen; Quintero-Hernández, Verónica; 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

  3. 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

  4. Future directions in reptile medical education.

    PubMed

    Jacobson, Elliott; Heard, Darryl; Isaza, Ramiro

    2006-01-01

    Reptile medicine has emerged as a specialty area within the broader field of zoological medicine. It encompasses the medical needs of approximately 7,500 vertebrate species. This vertebrate class is highly diversified, having biological and medical peculiarities that differ both between and within major groups. Historically, veterinarians who have become recognized specialists with reptiles have had limited formal training in their medical management. The pet reptile trade is a multi-million-dollar business, and the popularity of reptiles as pets has resulted in a need for more veterinarians with training in their medical management. While few private practices have high volumes of reptile cases, many small-animal practices will have the opportunity to see a significant number of reptiles on an annual basis. Most practitioners with reptile medical expertise have merged their experiences as reptile pet owners with the principles of veterinary medicine taught in veterinary college. Several North American veterinary colleges have reptile medicine courses, and most have didactic and clinical courses in exotic and zoo animal medicine that include lectures and practical experience. Most accredited zoological medicine residency training programs include training in reptile medicine. The case load and interest in reptile medicine will probably never be sufficient to lead the average veterinary college to develop much more than what is currently offered. Consequently, those few colleges having more extensive course offerings, both didactic and clinical, will serve as educational centers for this discipline. Future Web-based teaching programs in reptile medicine will allow students nationally and internationally to have access to instructional material that can be continually updated.

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

    PubMed

    McCowan, Caryn; Garb, Jessica E

    2014-02-25

    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 (Latrodectus 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.

  6. 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

  7. Fossilized venom: the unusually conserved venom profiles of Heloderma species (beaded lizards and gila monsters).

    PubMed

    Koludarov, Ivan; Jackson, Timothy N W; Sunagar, Kartik; Nouwens, Amanda; Hendrikx, Iwan; Fry, Bryan G

    2014-12-22

    Research into snake venoms has revealed extensive variation at all taxonomic levels. Lizard venoms, however, have received scant research attention in general, and no studies of intraclade variation in lizard venom composition have been attempted to date. Despite their iconic status and proven usefulness in drug design and discovery, highly venomous helodermatid lizards (gila monsters and beaded lizards) have remained neglected by toxinological research. Proteomic comparisons of venoms of three helodermatid lizards in this study has unravelled an unusual similarity in venom-composition, despite the long evolutionary time (~30 million years) separating H. suspectum from the other two species included in this study (H. exasperatum and H. horridum). Moreover, several genes encoding the major helodermatid toxins appeared to be extremely well-conserved under the influence of negative selection (but with these results regarded as preliminary due to the scarcity of available sequences). While the feeding ecologies of all species of helodermatid lizard are broadly similar, there are significant morphological differences between species, which impact upon relative niche occupation.

  8. Fossilized Venom: The Unusually Conserved Venom Profiles of Heloderma Species (Beaded Lizards and Gila Monsters)

    PubMed Central

    Koludarov, Ivan; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Sunagar, Kartik; Nouwens, Amanda; Hendrikx, Iwan; Fry, Bryan G.

    2014-01-01

    Research into snake venoms has revealed extensive variation at all taxonomic levels. Lizard venoms, however, have received scant research attention in general, and no studies of intraclade variation in lizard venom composition have been attempted to date. Despite their iconic status and proven usefulness in drug design and discovery, highly venomous helodermatid lizards (gila monsters and beaded lizards) have remained neglected by toxinological research. Proteomic comparisons of venoms of three helodermatid lizards in this study has unravelled an unusual similarity in venom-composition, despite the long evolutionary time (~30 million years) separating H. suspectum from the other two species included in this study (H. exasperatum and H. horridum). Moreover, several genes encoding the major helodermatid toxins appeared to be extremely well-conserved under the influence of negative selection (but with these results regarded as preliminary due to the scarcity of available sequences). While the feeding ecologies of all species of helodermatid lizard are broadly similar, there are significant morphological differences between species, which impact upon relative niche occupation. PMID:25533521

  9. Conservation genetics and genomics of amphibians and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Shaffer, H Bradley; Gidiş, Müge; McCartney-Melstad, Evan; Neal, Kevin M; Oyamaguchi, Hilton M; Tellez, Marisa; Toffelmier, Erin M

    2015-01-01

    Amphibians and reptiles as a group are often secretive, reach their greatest diversity often in remote tropical regions, and contain some of the most endangered groups of organisms on earth. Particularly in the past decade, genetics and genomics have been instrumental in the conservation biology of these cryptic vertebrates, enabling work ranging from the identification of populations subject to trade and exploitation, to the identification of cryptic lineages harboring critical genetic variation, to the analysis of genes controlling key life history traits. In this review, we highlight some of the most important ways that genetic analyses have brought new insights to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Although genomics has only recently emerged as part of this conservation tool kit, several large-scale data sources, including full genomes, expressed sequence tags, and transcriptomes, are providing new opportunities to identify key genes, quantify landscape effects, and manage captive breeding stocks of at-risk species.

  10. Venomous auger snail Hastula (Impages) hectica (Linnaeus, 1758): molecular phylogeny, foregut anatomy and comparative toxinology.

    PubMed

    Imperial, Julita S; Kantor, Yuri; Watkins, Maren; Heralde, Francisco M; Stevenson, Bradford; Chen, Ping; Hansson, Karin; Stenflo, Johan; Ownby, John-Paul; Bouchet, Philippe; Olivera, Baldomero M

    2007-12-15

    The >10,000 living venomous marine snail species [superfamily Conoidea (Fleming, 1822)] include cone snails (Conus), the overwhelming focus of research. Hastula hectica (Linnaeus, 1758), a venomous snail in the family Terebridae (Mörch, 1852) was comprehensively investigated. The Terebridae comprise a major monophyletic group within Conoidea. H. hectica has a striking radular tooth to inject venom that looks like a perforated spear; in Conus, the tooth looks like a hypodermic needle. H. hectica venom contains a large complement of small disulfide-rich peptides, but with no apparent overlap with Conus in gene superfamilies expressed. Although Conus peptide toxins are densely post-translationally modified, no post-translationally modified amino acids were found in any Hastula venom peptide. The results suggest that different major lineages of venomous molluscs have strikingly divergent toxinological and venom-delivery strategies.

  11. Update on common nutritional disorders of captive reptiles.

    PubMed

    Mans, Christoph; Braun, Jana

    2014-09-01

    Nutritional disorders of captive reptiles remain very common despite the increasing knowledge about reptile husbandry and nutrition. Many nutritional disorders are diagnosed late in the disease process; often secondary complications, such as pathologic fractures in reptiles suffering from nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism have occurred. Therefore, every attempt should be made to educate reptile owners and keepers about the proper care and dietary needs of reptiles under their care because all nutritional disorders seen in captive reptiles are preventable.

  12. Adaptive evolution of the venom-targeted vWF protein in opossums that eat pitvipers.

    PubMed

    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.

  13. 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

  14. Vesicular, ulcerative, and necrotic dermatitis of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Maas, Adolf K

    2013-09-01

    Vesicular, ulcerative, and necrotic dermatologic conditions are common in captive reptiles. Although these conditions have distinct differences histologically, they are commonly sequelae to each other. This article examines the anatomy and physiology of reptile skin; discusses reported causes of vesicular, ulcerative, and necrotic dermatologic conditions; and reviews various management options.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-12-19

    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.

  18. 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

  19. Mast cells and IgE in defense against venoms: Possible "good side" of allergy?

    PubMed

    Galli, Stephen J; Starkl, Philipp; Marichal, Thomas; Tsai, Mindy

    2016-01-01

    Physicians think of mast cells and IgE primarily in the context of allergic disorders, including fatal anaphylaxis. This 'bad side' of mast cells and IgE is so well accepted that it can be difficult to think of them in other contexts, particularly those in which they may have beneficial functions. However, there is evidence that mast cells and IgE, as well as basophils (circulating granulocytes whose functions partially overlap with those of mast cells), can contribute to host defense as components of adaptive type 2 immune responses to helminths, ticks and certain other parasites. Accordingly, allergies often are conceptualized as "misdirected" type 2 immune responses, in which IgE antibodies are produced against any of a diverse group of apparently harmless antigens, as well as against components of animal venoms. Indeed, certain unfortunate patients who have become sensitized to venoms develop severe IgE-associated allergic reactions, including fatal anaphylaxis, upon subsequent venom exposure. In this review, we will describe evidence that mast cells can enhance innate resistance to reptile or arthropod venoms during a first exposure to such venoms. We also will discuss findings indicating that, in mice which survive an initial encounter with venom, acquired type 2 immune responses, IgE antibodies, the high affinity IgE receptor (FcɛRI), and mast cells can contribute to acquired resistance to the lethal effects of both honeybee venom and Russell's viper venom. These findings support the hypothesis that mast cells and IgE can help protect the host against venoms and perhaps other noxious substances. PMID:26666482

  20. 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

  1. Laboratory reptile surgery: principles and techniques.

    PubMed

    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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Yolk steroid hormones and sex determination in reptiles with TSD.

    PubMed

    Elf, P K

    2003-07-01

    In reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines the sex of the offspring. The molecular switch responsible for determining sex in these species has not yet been elucidated. We have examined the dynamics of yolk steroid hormones during embryonic development in the snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina, and the alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, and have found that yolk estradiol (E(2)) responds differentially to incubation temperature in both of these reptiles. Based upon recently reported roles for E(2) in modulation of steroidogenic factor 1, a transcription factor known to be significant in the sex differentiation process, we hypothesize that yolk E(2) is a link between temperature and the gene expression pathway responsible for sex determination and differentiation in at least some of these species. Here we review the evidence that supports our hypothesis. PMID:12849957

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Characterization and cDNA cloning of aminopeptidase A from the venom of Gloydius blomhoffi brevicaudus.

    PubMed

    Ogawa, Yuko; Murayama, Nobuhiro; Fujita, Yoshiaki; Yanoshita, Ryohei

    2007-06-15

    The aminopeptidase activities of snake venoms from Gloydius blomhoffi brevicaudus, Gloydius halys blomhoffii, Trimeresurus flavoviridis, Bothrops jararaca and Crotalus atrox were investigated. Aminopeptidase A (APA), aminopeptidase B and aminopeptidase N activities were present in all snake venoms. The strongest APA activity was found in venom from G. blomhoffi brevicaudus. The susceptibility to metallopeptidase inhibitors and the pH optimum of the partially purified enzyme from G. blomhoffi brevicaudus venom were similar to those of known APAs from mammals. A G. blomhoffi brevicaudus venom gland cDNA library was screened to isolate cDNA clones using probes based on highly conserved amino acid sequences in known APAs. Molecular cloning of APA from G. blomhoffi brevicaudus venom predicted that it was a type II integral membrane protein containing 958 amino acid residues with 17 potential N-linked glycosylation sites. It possessed a His-Glu-Xaa-Xaa-His-(Xaa)(18)-Glu zinc binding motif that allowed the classification of this protein as a member of the M1 family of zinc-metallopeptidases, or gluzincins. The deduced amino acid sequence shows approximately 60% sequence identity to mammalian APA sequences. This is the first study to report the primary structure of APA from a reptile. PMID:17383704

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. Environmentally cued hatching in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Doody, J S

    2011-07-01

    Evidence is accumulating for the widespread occurrence of environmentally cued hatching (ECH) in animals, but its diversity and distribution across taxa are unknown. Herein I review three types of ECH in reptiles: early hatching, delayed hatching, and synchronous hatching. ECH is currently known from 43 species, including turtles, crocodilians, lizards, snakes, tuatara, and possibly worm lizards. Early hatching caused by physical disturbance (e.g., vibrations) is the most commonly reported ECH across all groups; although it apparently serves an antipredator function in some species, its adaptive value is unknown in most. Delayed hatching, characterized by metabolic depression or embryonic aestivation, and sometimes followed by a hypoxic cue (flooding), occurs in some turtles and possibly in monitor lizards and crocodilians; in some of these species delayed hatching serves to defer hatching from the dry season until the more favorable conditions of the wet season. Synchronous hatching, whereby sibling eggs hatch synchronously despite vertical thermal gradients in the nest, occurs in some turtles and crocodilians. Although vibrations and vocalizations in hatching-competent embryos can stimulate synchronous hatching, cues promoting developmentally less advanced embryos to catch up with more advanced embryos have not been confirmed. Synchronous hatching may serve to dilute predation risk by promoting synchronous emergence or reduce the period in which smells associated with hatching can attract predators to unhatched eggs. Within species, advancing our understanding of ECH requires three types of studies: (1) experiments identifying hatching cues and the plastic hatching period, (2) experiments disentangling hypotheses about multiple hatching cues, and (3) investigations into the environmental context in which ECH might evolve in different species (major predators or abiotic influences on the egg, embryo, and hatchling). Among species and groups, surveys for ECH are

  13. Global taxonomic diversity of living reptiles.

    PubMed

    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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. [Relationships between venomous function and innate immune function].

    PubMed

    Goyffon, Max; Saul, Frederick; Faure, Grazyna

    2015-01-01

    Venomous function is investigated in relation to innate immune function in two cases selected from scorpion venom and serpent venom. In the first case, structural analysis of scorpion toxins and defensins reveals a close interrelation between both functions (toxic and innate immune system function). In the second case, structural and functional studies of natural inhibitors of toxic snake venom phospholipases A2 reveal homology with components of the innate immune system, leading to a similar conclusion. Although there is a clear functional distinction between neurotoxins, which act by targeting membrane ion channels, and the circulating defensins which protect the organism from pathogens, the scorpion short toxins and defensins share a common protein folding scaffold with a conserved cysteine-stabilized alpha-beta motif of three disulfide bridges linking a short alpha helix and an antiparallel beta sheet. Genomic analysis suggests that these proteins share a common ancestor (long venom toxins were separated from an early gene family which gave rise to separate short toxin and defensin families). Furthermore, a scorpion toxin has been experimentally synthetized from an insect defensin, and an antibacterial scorpion peptide, androctonin (whose structure is similar to that of a cone snail venom toxin), was shown to have a similar high affinity for the postsynaptic acetylcholine receptor of Torpedo sp. Natural inhibitors of phospholipase A2 found in the blood of snakes are associated with the resistance of venomous snakes to their own highly neurotoxic venom proteins. Three classes of phospholipases A2 inhibitors (PLI-α, PLI-β, PLI-γ) have been identified. These inhibitors display diverse structural motifs related to innate immune proteins including carbohydrate recognition domains (CRD), leucine rich repeat domains (found in Toll-like receptors) and three finger domains, which clearly differentiate them from components of the adaptive immune system. Thus, in

  18. 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

  19. [Venoms and medical research].

    PubMed

    Ducancel, Frédéric

    2016-01-01

    Animal venoms are complex chemical cocktails, comprising a wide range of biologically active reticulated peptides that target with high selectivity and efficacy a variety of enzymes, membrane receptors, ion channels...Venoms can therefore be seen as large natural libraries of biologically active molecules that are continuously selected and highly refined by the evolution process, up to the point where every molecule is endowed with pharmacological properties that are highly valuable in the context of human use and drug development. Therefore, venom exploration constitutes a prerequisite to drug discovery. However, mass spectrometry and transcriptomics via NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) studies have shown the presence of up to 1000 peptides in the venom of single species of cone snails and spiders. Therefore the global animal venom resource can be seen as a collection of more than 50 to 100 000 000 peptides and proteins of which only ~5000 are known. That extraordinary "Eldorado" of bio-optimized compounds justifies the development of more global and cutting-edge strategies and technologies to explore this resource more efficiently than actually. De novo developed approaches and recently obtained results will be described. PMID:27687600

  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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Renal flagellate infections in reptiles: 29 cases.

    PubMed

    Juan-Sallés, Caries; Garner, Michael M; Nordhausen, Robert W; Valls, Xavier; Gallego, Miguel; Soto, Sara

    2014-03-01

    Renal infection with flagellated protozoa was retrospectively evaluated in 29 reptiles, including 12 turtles, 7 tortoises, and 6 chameleons; overall, 20 species of reptiles were represented. Most cases presented with nonspecific clinical signs or a combination of several concurrent diseases. Nineteen of 29 reptiles had tubulointerstitial nephritis associated with flagellates, and this lesion was considered contributory to death in 15 cases, although concurrent diseases were frequent. Infection was invasive into the renal interstitium in three reptiles due to tubular rupture and in one chameleon also spread to adjacent tissues, coelomic cavity, and blood vessels due to renal rupture. Cytologic or ultrastructural evaluation of trophozoites in two cases was consistent with diplomonad flagellates. Renal disease was often complicated with soft-tissue mineralization and/or gout. Gastrointestinal and cloacal infection with flagellates and inflammation were frequent in reptiles in which the digestive tract was available for histopathologic examination, and this supports the possibility of infections ascending the urinary tract from the cloaca. Renal disease associated with flagellate protozoa is rare in vertebrates but appears to be relevant in reptiles, particularly chelonians and chameleons.

  6. 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

  7. Evolution of phospholipase A2 toxins in venomous animals.

    PubMed

    Kordiš, Dušan

    2011-12-01

    Franc Gubenšek devoted much of his research career to the phospholipases A2 (PLA2), which are the major pharmacologically active components of snake venoms. Our long collaboration started with an analysis of Vipera ammodytes ammodytoxin and ammodytin cDNAs and genes. These PLA2 genes provided us with an entry into the exciting area of molecular evolution. We studied the structures of the PLA2 genes, the evolution of multigene families encoding PLA2 toxins, and the horizontal transfer of unusual retroelements that we found in these genes. In the last decade a number of novel features have emerged concerning the evolution of PLA2s in venomous animals. The large amount of recently accumulated data has provided a timely opportunity to review current understanding of the evolution of PLA2 toxins in venomous animals.

  8. Excreted/secreted Schistosoma mansoni venom allergen-like 9 (SmVAL9) modulates host extracellular matrix remodelling gene expression

    PubMed Central

    Yoshino, Timothy P.; Brown, Martha; Wu, Xiao-Jun; Jackson, Colin J.; Ocadiz-Ruiz, Ramon; Chalmers, Iain W.; Kolb, Marlen; Hokke, Cornelis H.; Hoffmann, Karl F.

    2014-01-01

    The Schistosoma mansoni venom allergen-like (SmVAL) protein family consists of 29 members, each possessing a conserved α-β-α sandwich tertiary feature called the Sperm-coating protein/Tpx-1/Ag5/PR-1/Sc7 (SCP/TAPS) domain. While the SmVALs have been found in both excretory/secretory (E/S) products and in intra/sub-tegumental (non-E/S) fractions, the role(s) of this family in host/parasite relationships or schistosome developmental processes remains poorly resolved. In order to begin quantifying SmVAL functional diversity or redundancy, dissecting the specific activity (ies) of individual family members is necessary. Towards this end, we present the characterisation of SmVAL9; a protein previously found enriched in both miracidia/sporocyst larval transformation proteins and in egg secretions. While our study confirms that SmVAL9 is indeed found in soluble egg products and miracidia/sporocyst larval transformation proteins, we find it to be maximally transcribed/translated in miracidia and subsequently down-regulated during in vitro sporocyst development. SmVAL9 localisation within sporocysts appears concentrated in parenchymal cells/vesicles as well as associated with larval germinal cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that egg-derived SmVAL9 carries an N-linked glycan containing a schistosome-specific difucosyl element and is an immunogenic target during chronic murine schistosomiasis. Finally, we demonstrate that recombinant SmVAL9 affects the expression of extracellular matrix, remodelling matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase (TIMP) gene products in both Biomphalaria glabrata embryonic cell (BgMMP1) and Mus musculus bone marrow-derived macrophage (MmMMP2, MmMMP9, MmMMP12, MmMMP13, MmMMP14, MmMMP28, TIMP1 and TIMP2) in vitro cultures. These findings importantly suggest that excreted/secreted SmVAL9 participates in tissue reorganisation/extracellular matrix remodelling during intra-mammalian egg translocation, miracidia

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. Use of microarrays for investigating the subtoxic effects of snake venoms: insights into venom-induced apoptosis in human umbilical vein endothelial cells.

    PubMed

    Gallagher, Paul G; Bao, Yongde; Serrano, Solange M T; Kamiguti, Aura S; Theakston, R David G; Fox, Jay W

    2003-03-01

    The pathological effects of only a small percentage of the total number of protein components of snake venoms are well documented, yet this knowledge has led to a general understanding of the physiological consequences of snake venom poisoning. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of subpathological levels of Crotalus atrox (Western diamondback rattlesnake) and Bothrops jararaca (Jararaca) snake venoms on the gene expression profile of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) in culture. Analysis of the data demonstrated that HUVECs treated with C. atrox venom had 33 genes up-regulated with significant fold changes of 1.5 or greater compared to untreated control cells. Ten genes were down-regulated with 1.5 or greater fold changes. In cells treated with B. jararaca venom, 33 genes were observed to be up-regulated and 11 genes were down-regulated with a fold change of 1.5 or more. More than half of the up-regulated genes and approximately half of the down-regulated genes detected in cells treated with the venoms were found in both data sets underscoring both the similarities and differences between the two venoms. Ontological categorization of the up-regulated genes from endothelial cells treated with either C. atrox or B. jararaca venom gave the cell growth/maintenance and signal transducer groups as having the most members. The ontology of the down-regulated genes from both venom-treated cell samples was more varied but interestingly, the predominant ontology class was also cell growth/maintenance. Many of the up-regulated genes are involved in the Fas ligand/TNF-alpha receptor apoptotic pathway. In summary, these experiments demonstrate the power of gene expression profiling to explore the subtoxic effects of venoms on gene expression and highlight its potential for the discovery of novel insights into a variety of biological processes and signal transduction pathways. Furthermore, these studies illustrate the subtle functional differences between

  15. From fins to limbs to fins: limb evolution in fossil marine reptiles.

    PubMed

    Caldwell, Michael W

    2002-10-15

    Limb osteology and ontogenetic patterns of limb ossification are reviewed for extinct lineages of aquatically adapted diapsid reptiles. Phylogenies including these fossil taxa show that paddle-like limbs were independently derived, and that the varied limb morphologies were produced by evolutionary modifications to different aspects of the limb skeleton. Ancient marine reptiles modify the limb by reducing the relative size of the epipodials, modifying the perichondral and periosteal surface of elements distal to the propodials, and evolving extremes of hyperphalangy and hyperdactyly. Developmental genetic models illuminate gene systems that may have controlled limb evolution in these animals. PMID:12357467

  16. 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

  17. 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

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

    PubMed

    Harris, Richard J; Arbuckle, Kevin

    2016-06-23

    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.

  19. Countryside biogeography of Neotropical reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    Mendenhall, Chase D; Frishkoff, Luke O; Santos-Barrera, Georgina; Pacheco, Jesús; Mesfun, Eyobed; Mendoza Quijano, Fernando; Ehrlich, Paul R; Ceballos, Gerardo; Daily, Gretchen C; Pringle, Robert M

    2014-04-01

    The future of biodiversity and ecosystem services depends largely on the capacity of human-dominated ecosystems to support them, yet this capacity remains largely unknown. Using the framework of countryside biogeography, and working in the Las Cruces system of Coto Brus, Costa Rica, we assessed reptile and amphibian assemblages within four habitats that typify much of the Neotropics: sun coffee plantations (12 sites), pasture (12 sites), remnant forest elements (12 sites), and a larger, contiguous protected forest (3 sites in one forest). Through analysis of 1678 captures of 67 species, we draw four primary conclusions. First, we found that the majority of reptile (60%) and amphibian (70%) species in this study used an array of habitat types, including coffee plantations and actively grazed pastures. Second, we found that coffee plantations and pastures hosted rich, albeit different and less dense, reptile and amphibian biodiversity relative to the 326-ha Las Cruces Forest Reserve and neighboring forest elements. Third, we found that the small ribbons of "countryside forest elements" weaving through farmland collectively increased the effective size of a 326-ha local forest reserve 16-fold for reptiles and 14-fold for amphibians within our 236-km2 study area. Therefore, countryside forest elements, often too small for most remote sensing techniques to identify, are contributing -95% of the available habitat for forest-dependent reptiles and amphibians in our largely human-dominated study region. Fourth, we found large and pond-reproducing amphibians to prefer human-made habitats, whereas small, stream-reproducing, and directly developing species are more dependent on forest elements. Our investigation demonstrates that tropical farming landscapes can support substantial reptile and amphibian biodiversity. Our approach provides a framework for estimating the conservation value of the complex working landscapes that constitute roughly half of the global land surface

  20. The venom-gland transcriptome of the eastern coral snake (Micrurus fulvius) reveals high venom complexity in the intragenomic evolution of venoms

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Snake venom is shaped by the ecology and evolution of venomous species, and signals of positive selection in toxins have been consistently documented, reflecting the role of venoms as an ecologically critical phenotype. New World coral snakes (Elapidae) are represented by three genera and over 120 species and subspecies that are capable of causing significant human morbidity and mortality, yet coral-snake venom composition is poorly understood in comparison to that of Old World elapids. High-throughput sequencing is capable of identifying thousands of loci, while providing characterizations of expression patterns and the molecular evolutionary forces acting within the venom gland. Results We describe the de novo assembly and analysis of the venom-gland transcriptome of the eastern coral snake (Micrurus fulvius). We identified 1,950 nontoxin transcripts and 116 toxin transcripts. These transcripts accounted for 57.1% of the total reads, with toxins accounting for 45.8% of the total reads. Phospholipases A2 and three-finger toxins dominated expression, accounting for 86.0% of the toxin reads. A total of 15 toxin families were identified, revealing venom complexity previously unknown from New World coral snakes. Toxins exhibited high levels of heterozygosity relative to nontoxins, and overdominance may favor gene duplication leading to the fixation of advantageous alleles. Phospholipase A2 expression was uniformly distributed throughout the class while three-finger toxin expression was dominated by a handful of transcripts, and phylogenetic analyses indicate that toxin divergence may have occurred following speciation. Positive selection was detected in three of the four most diverse toxin classes, suggesting that venom diversification is driven by recurrent directional selection. Conclusions We describe the most complete characterization of an elapid venom gland to date. Toxin gene duplication may be driven by heterozygote advantage, as the frequency of

  1. 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…

  2. [Neurotoxins from snake venom].

    PubMed

    Larréché, S; Mion, G; Clapson, P; Debien, B; Wybrecht, D; Goyffon, M

    2008-04-01

    Many snakes are able to quickly immobilize prey, thanks to their venom neurotoxins. Most of these snakes belong to families Elapidae or Hydrophidae but neurotoxins were also isolated from families Viperidae and Colubridae. Ophidian neurotoxins can be classified into several categories: neurotoxins which inhibit synaptic transmission (postsynaptic and presynaptic neurotoxins) and neurotoxins which facilitate it excessively (dendrotoxin and fasciculin). Their toxicity is dose-dependent, and venom effects are extremely fast. The clinical feature is a potentially fatal neurological syndrome, the so called cobraic syndrome. Because death by respiratory arrest may occur quickly with cobraic syndrome, immunotherapy is a true emergency, because toxins irreversible fixing makes immunotherapy effect uncertain after a few hours passed.

  3. 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

  4. Venomous animals: clinical toxinology.

    PubMed

    White, Julian

    2010-01-01

    Venomous animals occur in numerous phyla and present a great diversity of taxa, toxins, targets, clinical effects and outcomes. Venomous snakes are the most medically significant group globally and may injure >1.25 million humans annually, with up to 100 000 deaths and many more cases with long-term disability. Scorpion sting is the next most important cause of envenoming, but significant morbidity and even deaths occur following envenoming with a wide range of other venomous animals, including spiders, ticks, jellyfish, marine snails, octopuses and fish. Clinical effects vary with species and venom type, including local effects (pain, swelling, sweating, blistering, bleeding, necrosis), general effects (headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, hypertension, hypotension, cardiac arrhythmias and arrest, convulsions, collapse, shock) and specific systemic effects (paralytic neurotoxicity, neuroexcitatory neurotoxicity, myotoxicity, interference with coagulation, haemorrhagic activity, renal toxicity, cardiac toxicity). First aid varies with organism and envenoming type, but few effective first aid methods are recommended, while many inappropriate or frankly dangerous methods are in widespread use. For snakebite, immobilisation of the bitten limb, then the whole patient is the universal method, although pressure immobilisation bandaging is recommended for bites by non-necrotic or haemorrhagic species. Hot water immersion is the most universal method for painful marine stings. Medical treatment includes both general and specific measures, with antivenom being the principal tool in the latter category. However, antivenom is available only for a limited range of species, not for all dangerous species, is in short supply in some areas of highest need, and in many cases, is supported by historical precedent rather than modern controlled trials.

  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. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. Sphingomyelinase D in sicariid spider venom is a potent insecticidal toxin.

    PubMed

    Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A; Kerins, Alec E; Binford, Greta J

    2012-09-01

    Spider venoms have evolved over hundreds of millions of years with a primary role of immobilizing prey. Sphingomyelinase D (SMase D) and homologs in the SicTox gene family are the most abundantly expressed toxic protein in venoms of Loxosceles and Sicarius spiders (Sicariidae). While SMase D is well known to cause dermonecrotic lesions in mammals, little work has investigated the bioactivity of this enzyme in its presumed natural role of immobilizing insect prey. We expressed and purified recombinant SMase D from Loxosceles arizonica (Laz-SMase D) and compared its enzymatic and insecticidal activity to that of crude venom. SMase D enzymatic activities of purified protein and crude venom from the same species were indistinguishable. In addition, SMase D and crude venom have comparable and high potency in immobilization assays on crickets. These data indicate that SMase D is a potent insecticidal toxin, the role for which it presumably evolved.

  11. Comparative analyses of venoms from American and African Sicarius spiders that differ in sphingomyelinase D activity.

    PubMed

    Zobel-Thropp, Pamela A; Bodner, Melissa R; Binford, Greta J

    2010-06-15

    Spider venoms are cocktails of toxic proteins and peptides, whose composition varies at many levels. Understanding patterns of variation in chemistry and bioactivity is fundamental for understanding factors influencing variation. The venom toxin sphingomyelinase D (SMase D) in sicariid spider venom (Loxosceles and Sicarius) causes dermonecrotic lesions in mammals. Multiple forms of venom-expressed genes with homology to SMase D are expressed in venoms of both genera. SMase D activity levels differ among major clades with American Sicarius vastly reduced relative to all Loxosceles and African Sicarius despite expression of SMase D homologs in venoms of American Sicarius. Here we report comparative analyses of protein composition and insecticidal activity of crude venoms from three Sicarius species, two from South Africa and one from Central America. Comparative 2-dimensional electrophoresis shows dense regions of proteins in the size range of SMase D in all three species, but there are differences in sizes and isoelectric points (pIs). Few proteins strictly co-migrate and there are clusters of proteins with similar pIs and molecular weights whose patterns of similarity do not necessarily reflect phylogenetic relatedness. In addition, PD(50) estimates on crickets indicate a small though significant decrease in potency of South American Sicarius venoms relative to African species.

  12. The transcriptome recipe for the venom cocktail of Tityus bahiensis scorpion.

    PubMed

    de Oliveira, Ursula Castro; Candido, Denise Maria; Dorce, Valquíria Abrão Coronado; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio de Loiola Meirelles

    2015-03-01

    Scorpion venom is a mixture of peptides, including antimicrobial, bradykinin-potentiating and anionic peptides and small to medium proteins, such as ion channel toxins, metalloproteinases and phospholipases that together cause severe clinical manifestation. Tityus bahiensis is the second most medically important scorpion species in Brazil and it is widely distributed in the country with the exception of the North Region. Here we sequenced and analyzed the transcripts from the venom glands of T. bahiensis, aiming at identifying and annotating venom gland expressed genes. A total of 116,027 long reads were generated by pyrosequencing and assembled in 2891 isotigs. An annotation process identified transcripts by similarity to known toxins, revealing that putative venom components represent 7.4% of gene expression. The major toxins identified are potassium and sodium channel toxins, whereas metalloproteinases showed an unexpected high abundance. Phylogenetic analysis of deduced metalloproteinases from T. bahiensis and other scorpions revealed a pattern of ancient and intraspecific gene expansions. Other venom molecules identified include antimicrobial, anionic and bradykinin-potentiating peptides, besides several putative new venom components. This report provides the first attempt to massively identify the venom components of this species and constitutes one of the few transcriptomic efforts on the genus Tityus.

  13. Reptile-associated salmonellosis in Minnesota, 1996-2011.

    PubMed

    Whitten, T; Bender, J B; Smith, K; Leano, F; Scheftel, J

    2015-05-01

    Reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS) occurs when Salmonella is transmitted from a reptile to a human. This study describes the epidemiology of RAS in Minnesota during 1996-2011. All Minnesotans with confirmed Salmonella infections are reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Case patients are interviewed about illness characteristics and risk factors, including foods eaten, drinking and recreational water exposures, contact with ill people, and animal contact. Willing RAS case patients can submit stool from the reptile for culture. Serotype and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) subtype of Salmonella isolates from reptiles and case patients are compared. Of 8389 sporadic (not associated with an outbreak) non-typhoidal salmonellosis case patients in Minnesotans during 1996-2011, 290 (3.5%) reported reptile exposure. The median age of case patients with reptile exposure was 11 years, 31% were under the age of 5 years and 67% were under the age of 20 years; 50% were female. The median illness duration was 8 days; 23% required hospitalization. The most commonly reported reptile exposures were lizard (47%), snake (20%), turtle (19%) and a combination of reptile types (14%). Eighty-four per cent of isolates from case patients who reported reptile exposure were Salmonella enterica subspecies I. The three most common serotypes were Typhimurium (15%), Enteritidis (7%) and subspecies IV serotypes (7%). Of 60 reptiles testing positive for Salmonella, 36 (60%) yielded the same Salmonella serotype as the human isolate. Twenty-six of 27 reptile isolates that were subtyped by PFGE were indistinguishable from the human isolate. Of these, 88% were subspecies I; the most common serotypes were Enteritidis (12%), Typhimurium (8%), and Bareilly (8%). RAS accounts for approximately 3.5% of salmonellosis cases in Minnesota, primarily affecting children. The majority of isolates from case patients and reptiles belonged to Salmonella subspecies I, suggesting that

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Ticks parasitizing reptiles in the Bahamas.

    PubMed

    Durden, L A; Knapp, C R

    2005-09-01

    Two species of reptile ticks, Amblyomma dissimile Koch and Amblyomma torrei Pérez Vigueras (Acari: Ixodidae), are reported from the Bahama Islands for the first time. The widespread neotropical (including the Caribbean and southern Florida) A. dissimile was recovered on Andros Island from three species of reptiles all for the first time: the Andros iguana Cyclura cychlura cychlura Cuvier, the Andros curly tail lizard Leiocephalus carinatus coryi Schmidt, and the Andros boa Epicrates striatus fowleri Sheplan and Schwartz. The iguana tick A. torrei, previously known only from Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands, was recovered in the Exuma Islands from the Exuma iguana Cyclura cychlura figginsi Barbour. Mean numbers of ticks per host were as high as 36.6 on Mangrove Cay, Andros Island, and 25.8 on Pasture Cay in the Exuma Islands.

  19. 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.

  20. Coprological survey in pet reptiles in Italy.

    PubMed

    Papini, R; Manetti, C; Mancianti, F

    2011-08-20

    Faecal samples were collected from 324 pet reptiles showing no clinical signs, including 28 saurian species (n=192), three ophidian species (n=74) and three chelonian species (n=58). Samples were examined for the presence of intestinal parasites by direct smear and faecal flotation, while direct immunofluorescence assays were used to reveal the presence of Cryptosporidium oocysts and Giardia cysts. Overall, 57.4 per cent of the reptiles were harbouring intestinal parasites. These included oxyurids (16 per cent), coccidia (12.3 per cent), flagellates (9.3 per cent), strongyles (6.8 per cent), coccidia plus oxyurids (4.9 per cent), coccidia plus flagellates (1.8 per cent), coccidia plus strongyles (1.8 per cent), oxyurids plus strongyles (1.2 per cent), oxyurids plus flagellates (1.2 per cent), Cryptosporidium species (1.2 per cent) and strongyles plus flagellates (0.6 per cent). Intestinal parasites were more prevalent in saurians than in ophidians and chelonians, in insectivores than in carnivores, omnivores and herbivores, and in wild-caught than in captive-born reptiles. A highly significant difference was observed for saurians versus chelonians (odds ratio [OR]=2.20, 95 per cent confidence interval [CI] 1.21 to 3.99), insectivores versus herbivores (OR=2.38, 95 per cent CI 1.26 to 4.49) and in wild-caught versus captive-born pet reptiles (OR=2.36, 95 per cent CI 1.27 to 4.40).

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. High-resolution proteomic profiling of spider venom: expanding the toxin diversity of Phoneutria nigriventer venom.

    PubMed

    Liberato, Tarcísio; Troncone, Lanfranco Ranieri Paolo; Yamashiro, Edson T; Serrano, Solange M T; Zelanis, André

    2016-03-01

    Here we present a proteomic characterization of Phoneutria nigriventer venom. A shotgun proteomic approach allowed the identification, for the first time, of O-glycosyl hydrolases (chitinases) in P. nigriventer venom. The electrophoretic profiles under nonreducing and reducing conditions, and protein identification by mass spectrometry, indicated the presence of oligomeric toxin structures in the venom. Complementary proteomic approaches allowed for a qualitative and semi-quantitative profiling of P. nigriventer venom complexity, expanding its known venom proteome diversity.

  5. 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

  6. Transient Receptor Potential Ion Channels Control Thermoregulatory Behaviour in Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Seebacher, Frank; Murray, Shauna A.

    2007-01-01

    Biological functions are governed by thermodynamics, and animals regulate their body temperature to optimise cellular performance and to avoid harmful extremes. The capacity to sense environmental and internal temperatures is a prerequisite for the evolution of thermoregulation. However, the mechanisms that enable ectothermic vertebrates to sense heat remain unknown. The recently discovered thermal characteristics of transient receptor potential ion channels (TRP) render these proteins suitable to act as temperature sensors. Here we test the hypothesis that TRPs are present in reptiles and function to control thermoregulatory behaviour. We show that the hot-sensing TRPV1 is expressed in a crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), an agamid (Amphibolurus muricatus) and a scincid (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) lizard, as well as in the quail and zebrafinch (Coturnix chinensis and Poephila guttata). The TRPV1 genes from all reptiles form a unique clade that is delineated from the mammalian and the ancestral Xenopus sequences by an insertion of two amino acids. TRPV1 and the cool-sensing TRPM8 are expressed in liver, muscle (transversospinalis complex), and heart tissues of the crocodile, and have the potential to act as internal thermometer and as external temperatures sensors. Inhibition of TRPV1 and TRPM8 in C. porosus abolishes the typically reptilian shuttling behaviour between cooling and heating environments, and leads to significantly altered body temperature patterns. Our results provide the proximate mechanism of thermal selection in terrestrial ectotherms, which heralds a fundamental change in interpretation, because TRPs provide the mechanism for a tissue-specific input into the animals' thermoregulatory response. PMID:17356692

  7. 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

  8. 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…

  9. 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.

  10. Seven new species of helminths for reptiles from Armenia.

    PubMed

    Nelli, Sargsyan; Felix, Danielyan; Marine, Arakelyan

    2014-09-01

    Helminthic infections of reptiles habiting in the territory of Armenia are examined. Seven species of helminths new for reptiles from Armenia are registered: Parapharyngodon skrjabini, Oswaldocruzia goezei, Neoxysomatium sp., Telorchis assula, Nematotaenia tarentolae, Mesocestoides lineatus and Spirometra erinacei europea. Descriptions and pictures of them are given.

  11. A review on human attitudes towards reptiles in Brazil.

    PubMed

    Alves, Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega; Vieira, Kleber Silva; Santana, Gindomar Gomes; Vieira, Washington Luiz Silva; Almeida, Waltécio Oliveira; Souto, Wedson Medeiros Silva; Montenegro, Paulo Fernando Guedes Pereira; Pezzuti, Juarez Carlos Brito

    2012-11-01

    For many millennia humans and reptiles have interacted, but the attitude of humans towards these animals has depended on culture, environment, and personal experience. At least 719 reptile species are known to occur in Brazil and about 11% of this fauna has been exploited for many different purposes, including bushmeat, leather, ornamental and magic/religious uses, and as folk medicines. Brazil can therefore serve as an interesting case study for better understanding reptile use by human societies, and the present paper catalogues some of the reptile species being used in Brazil and discusses implications for their conservation. A literature review indicated that 81 reptile species are culturally important in this country, with 47 (58%) species having multiple uses, 54 being used for medicinal purposes, 38 as food, 28 for ornamental or decorative purposes, 20 used in magic/religious practices, 18 as pets, and 40 are commonly killed when they come into contact with humans. Regarding their conservation status, 30 (37.5%) are included on State's Red List, Brazilian Red List or the IUCN Red List. There are many forms of interaction between reptiles and humans in Brazil-although most of them are quite negative in terms of wildlife conservation-which reinforces the importance of understanding such uses and interactions in the context of protecting reptiles in Brazil. A better understanding of the cultural, social, and traditional roles of these reptiles is fundamental to establishing management plans for their sustainable use.

  12. Diagnosis of Hymenoptera venom allergy.

    PubMed

    Biló, B M; Rueff, F; Mosbech, H; Bonifazi, F; Oude-Elberink, J N G

    2005-11-01

    The purpose of diagnostic procedure is to classify a sting reaction by history, identify the underlying pathogenetic mechanism, and identify the offending insect. Diagnosis of Hymenoptera venom allergy thus forms the basis for the treatment. In the central and northern Europe vespid (mainly Vespula spp.) and honeybee stings are the most prevalent, whereas in the Mediterranean area stings from Polistes and Vespula are more frequent than honeybee stings; bumblebee stings are rare throughout Europe and more of an occupational hazard. Several major allergens, usually glycoproteins with a molecular weight of 10-50 kDa, have been identified in venoms of bees, vespids. and ants. The sequences and structures of the majority of venom allergens have been determined and several have been expressed in recombinant form. A particular problem in the field of cross-reactivity are specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies directed against carbohydrate epitopes, which may induce multiple positive test results (skin test, in vitro tests) of still unknown clinical significance. Venom hypersensitivity may be mediated by immunologic mechanisms (IgE-mediated or non-IgE-mediated venom allergy) but also by nonimmunologic mechanisms. Reactions to Hymenoptera stings are classified into normal local reactions, large local reactions, systemic toxic reactions, systemic anaphylactic reactions, and unusual reactions. For most venom-allergic patients an anaphylactic reaction after a sting is very traumatic event, resulting in an altered health-related quality of life. Risk factors influencing the outcome of an anaphylactic reaction include the time interval between stings, the number of stings, the severity of the preceding reaction, age, cardiovascular diseases and drug intake, insect type, elevated serum tryptase, and mastocytosis. Diagnostic tests should be carried out in all patients with a history of a systemic sting reaction to detect sensitization. They are not recommended in subjects with

  13. 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

  14. Congenital ocular and adnexal disorders in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Sabater, Mikel; Pérez, Marisa

    2013-01-01

    Ocular and adnexal congenital disorders are those that manifest at birth and could involve single or multiple tissues. Several abnormalities have been reported in literature affecting reptilian ocular and/or adnexal tissues. The objectives of this review are: (i) review those disorders previously reported in reptile literature; (ii) present new cases; (iii) provide a basic classification of them according to the moment of occurrence and (iv) indirectly, encourage the clinician dealing with these cases to go further in their diagnosis. The authors consider that categorizing ocular and adnexal congenital disorders could help the clinician to deal with them. The categorization of these disorders required an intense review of cases previously reported in literature and allows the authors suspect that some of them could not have been accurately diagnosed according to the definitions of the anomalies and/or not accurately described. The authors consider that ocular and adnexal congenital disorders could have been underestimated in reptiles and further studies could be helpful to promote the description of new disorders and to expand the knowledge about those previously reported. The review will first describe abnormalities reported during organogenesis (describing possible etiopathogenesis, cases reported, an approach to their diagnosis and recommended therapeutic options).Then a mention of the ocular disorders occurring after organogenesis is made. These disorders are divided when possible in those affecting all or most part of the globe and those affecting only specific tissues (surface ectoderm, neurocrest and mesenchyma and neuroectoderm).

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

    PubMed

    Gilbert, Maarten J; Kik, Marja; Miller, William G; Duim, Birgitta; Wagenaar, Jaap A

    2015-03-01

    During sampling of reptiles for members of the class Epsilonproteobacteria, strains representing a member of the genus Campylobacter not belonging to any of the established taxa were isolated from lizards and chelonians. Initial amplified fragment length polymorphism, PCR and 16S rRNA sequence analysis showed that these strains were most closely related to Campylobacter fetus and Campylobacter hyointestinalis. A polyphasic study was undertaken to determine the taxonomic position of five strains. The strains were characterized by 16S rRNA and atpA sequence analysis, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry and conventional phenotypic testing. Whole-genome sequences were determined for strains 1485E(T) and 2463D, and the average nucleotide and amino acid identities were determined for these strains. The strains formed a robust phylogenetic clade, divergent from all other species of the genus Campylobacter. In contrast to most currently known members of the genus Campylobacter, the strains showed growth at ambient temperatures, which might be an adaptation to their reptilian hosts. The results of this study clearly show that these strains isolated from reptiles represent a novel species within the genus Campylobacter, for which the name Campylobacter iguaniorum sp. nov. is proposed. The type strain is 1485E(T) ( = LMG 28143(T) = CCUG 66346(T)).

  16. Partners in amphibian and reptile conservation 2013 annual report

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Conrad, Paulette M.; 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

    2016-07-02

    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.

  20. Venom on ice: first insights into Antarctic octopus venoms.

    PubMed

    Undheim, E A B; Georgieva, D N; Thoen, H H; Norman, J A; Mork, J; Betzel, C; Fry, B G

    2010-11-01

    The venom of Antarctic octopus remains completely unstudied. Here, a preliminary investigation was conducted into the properties of posterior salivary gland (PSG) extracts from four Antarctica eledonine (Incirrata; Octopodidae) species (Adelieledone polymorpha, Megaleledone setebos, Pareledone aequipapillae, and Pareledone turqueti) collected from the coast off George V's Land, Antarctica. Specimens were assayed for alkaline phosphatase (ALP), acetylcholinesterase (AChE), proteolytic, phospholipase A(2) (PLA(2)), and haemolytic activities. For comparison, stomach tissue from Cirroctopus sp. (Cirrata; Cirroctopodidae) was also assayed for ALP, AChE, proteolytic and haemolytic activities. Dietary and morphological data were collected from the literature to explore the ecological importance of venom, taking an adaptive evolutionary approach. Of the incirrate species, three showed activities in all assays, while P. turqueti did not exhibit any haemolytic activity. There was evidence for cold-adaptation of ALP in all incirrates, while proteolytic activity in all except P. turqueti. Cirroctopus sp. stomach tissue extract showed ALP, AChE and some proteolytic activity. It was concluded that the AChE activity seen in the PSG extracts was possibly due to a release of household proteins, and not one of the secreted salivary toxins. Although venom undoubtedly plays an important part in prey capture and processing by Antarctica eledonines, no obvious adaptations to differences in diet or morphology were apparent from the enzymatic and haemolytic assays. However, several morphological features including enlarged PSG, small buccal mass, and small beak suggest such adaptations are present. Future studies should be conducted on several levels: Venomic, providing more detailed information on the venom compositions as well as the venom components themselves; ecological, for example application of serological or genetic methods in identifying stomach contents; and behavioural

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Weaponization of a Hormone: Convergent Recruitment of Hyperglycemic Hormone into the Venom of Arthropod Predators.

    PubMed

    Undheim, Eivind A B; Grimm, Lena L; Low, Chek-Fong; Morgenstern, David; Herzig, Volker; Zobel-Thropp, Pamela; Pineda, Sandy Steffany; Habib, Rosaline; Dziemborowicz, Slawomir; Fry, Bryan G; Nicholson, Graham M; Binford, Greta J; Mobli, Mehdi; King, Glenn F

    2015-07-01

    Arthropod venoms consist primarily of peptide toxins that are injected into their prey with devastating consequences. Venom proteins are thought to be recruited from endogenous body proteins and mutated to yield neofunctionalized toxins with remarkable affinity for specific subtypes of ion channels and receptors. However, the evolutionary history of venom peptides remains poorly understood. Here we show that a neuropeptide hormone has been convergently recruited into the venom of spiders and centipedes and evolved into a highly stable toxin through divergent modification of the ancestral gene. High-resolution structures of representative hormone-derived toxins revealed they possess a unique structure and disulfide framework and that the key structural adaptation in weaponization of the ancestral hormone was loss of a C-terminal α helix, an adaptation that occurred independently in spiders and centipedes. Our results raise a new paradigm for toxin evolution and highlight the value of structural information in providing insight into protein evolution.

  4. 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.

  5. Occurrence and molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium spp. in mammals and reptiles at the Lisbon Zoo.

    PubMed

    Alves, Margarida; Xiao, Lihua; Lemos, Vanessa; Zhou, Ling; Cama, Vitaliano; da Cunha, Margarida Barão; Matos, Olga; Antunes, Francisco

    2005-09-01

    The presence of Cryptosporidium parasites in mammals and reptiles kept at the Lisbon Zoo was investigated. A total of 274 stool samples were collected from 100 mammals and 29 reptiles. The species and genotype of the isolates identified by light microscopy were determined by nested PCR and sequence analysis of a fragment of the small subunit rRNA gene. Cryptosporidium oocysts were found in one black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou), one Prairie bison (Bison bison bison) and in one Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans). The PCR and sequence analysis of these three isolates showed that those excreted by the Prairie bison were Cryptosporidium mouse genotype, those from the black wildebeest were from a new Cryptosporidium genotype and those infecting the Indian star tortoise were Cryptosporidium tortoise genotype. The present work reports a new Cryptosporidium genotype in a black wildebeest and the first finding of the Cryptosporidium mouse genotype in a ruminant.

  6. [Wasp and bee venom allergy].

    PubMed

    Knulst, A C; de Maat-Bleeker, F; Bruijnzeel-Koomen, C A

    1998-04-18

    To diagnose insect venom allergy a good patient history is important. Allergological tests (skin test, specific IgE titre) confirm the diagnosis. Patients are advised on preventive measures (e.g. with respect to clothing and use of perfume). They are also instructed on medical treatment (antihistaminics, epinephrine) in case they are stung again. In patients having had a serious systemic reaction immunotherapy should be considered. Immunotherapy leads to complete protection in more than 98% of patients with wasp (yellow jacket) venom allergy and in 75-80% of patients with bee venom allergy. Serious adverse reactions to immunotherapy are rare. Immunotherapy lasts at least 3 to 5 years. After cessation of immunotherapy the frequency of systemic reactions to the sting of a wasp or bee is in the range of 5-15%. There are insufficient data on the long-term effect of immunotherapy.

  7. Evolution of soldier-specific venomous protease in social aphids.

    PubMed

    Kutsukake, Mayako; Nikoh, Naruo; Shibao, Harunobu; Rispe, Claude; Simon, Jean-Christophe; Fukatsu, Takema

    2008-12-01

    In social aphids of the genus Tuberaphis a cysteine protease gene of the family cathepsin B exhibits soldier-specific expression and intestinal protease production. The product is orally excreted and injected by soldier nymphs into natural enemies, thereby exerting an insecticidal activity. In an attempt to gain insights into when and how the novel venomous protease for the altruistic caste has evolved, we investigated the soldier-specific type (S-type) and nonspecific type (N-type) cathepsin B genes from social and nonsocial aphids. All the social aphids examined, representing the genera Tuberaphis, Astegopteryx, and Cerataphis, possessed both the S-type and N-type genes. Phylogenetically distant nonsocial aphids also possessed cathepsin B genes allied to the S-type and the N-type, indicating the evolutionary origin of these genes in the common ancestor of extant aphids. In Tuberaphis species the S-type genes exhibited significant soldier-specific expression and accelerated molecular evolution whereas the N-type genes did not. In Astegopteryx and Cerataphis species, meanwhile, both the S-type and N-type genes exhibited neither remarkable soldier-specific expression nor accelerated molecular evolution. These results suggest that the S-type gene acquired the soldier-specific expression and the venom function after divergence of the genus Tuberaphis. On the structural model of the S-type protease of Tuberaphis styraci the accelerated molecular evolution was associated with the molecular surface rather than the catalytic cleft, suggesting that the venom activity was probably acquired by relatively minor modifications on the molecular surface rather than by generation of a novel active site. In Cerataphis jamuritsu the S-type gene was, although containing a stop codon, structurally almost intact and still transcribed, suggesting recent pseudogenization of the gene copy and possible relevance to relaxed functional constraint in the highly multiplied protease gene family

  8. Partial transcriptomic profiling of toxins from the venom gland of the scorpion Parabuthus stridulus.

    PubMed

    Mille, Bea G; Peigneur, Steve; Diego-García, Elia; Predel, Reinhard; Tytgat, Jan

    2014-06-01

    Since it is an apocrine secretion, scorpion venom is a complex mixture that contains a variety of low-molecular-weight basic proteins (neurotoxins), mucus, salts, as well as a large number of other constituents. Diversity of scorpion venom peptides exists also at the transcript level. Two kinds of venom peptides are typically considered: the neurotoxins and the antimicrobial peptides. We constructed a cDNA library and carried an EST (Expressed Sequence Tag) approach to overview the different peptides in the transcriptome of the telson from Parabuthus stridulus. P. stridulus are psammophilous and highly venomous scorpions endemic to Namibia (Prendini 2004) with medical relevance because of important human envenomation occurrence. We obtained 111 ESTs, 20% of them corresponding to cellular process transcripts, 7% to hypothetical proteins and 17% were sequences without good matches, but the majority of ESTs, 56%, corresponds to transcripts encoding for different venom components, including voltage-gated sodium, potassium and calcium channel toxins, antimicrobial peptides and other venom and cell proteins. To the best of our knowledge this report contains the first transcriptome analysis of genes transcribed by the venomous gland of the scorpion species P. stridulus, belonging to the family of medically important Buthidae scorpions. One hundred and eleven ESTs were analyzed, showing an important number of genes that encode for products similar to known scorpion venom components. In total, 17 unique and novel sequences were indentified. The identification and characterization of these compounds will be a good source of novel pharmacological tools for studying ion channels and the understanding of the physiological effects of toxins in P. stridulus envenomations at a molecular level.

  9. Enzymatic and toxic properties of Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) venom and venom fractions.

    PubMed

    Tan, N H; Hj, M N

    1989-01-01

    Some enzymatic activities and toxic properties of four samples of Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) venom were investigated. There is little intraspecific variation in enzyme contents, protein composition and toxic properties of the venom. The venom does not exhibit hemolytic or edema-inducing activity but is characterized by an exceptionally high alkaline phosphomonoesterase activity. DEAE-Sephacel ion exchange chromatography and Sephadex G-75 gel filtration chromatography of the venom indicate that the major lethal toxins are the low mol.wt, non-enzymatic basic proteins. Venom fractions exhibiting high enzymatic activities apparently do not play an important role in the lethality in mice of Ophiophagus hannah venom.

  10. 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.

  11. [Study on the venoms of the principal venomous snakes from French Guiana and the neutralization].

    PubMed

    Estévez, J; Magaña, P; Chippaux, J P; Vidal, N; Mancilla, R; Paniagua, J F; de Roodt, A R

    2008-10-01

    We studied some biochemical, toxic and immunological characteristics of the venoms of Bothrops atrox, Bothrops brazili and Lachesis muta, Viperidae responsible for most of the bites of venomous snakes in French Guiana. Chromatographic (HPLC) and electrophoretical profiles (SDS-PAGE), lethal, hemorrhagic, defibrinogenating, coagulant, thrombin like, proteolytic, fibrino(geno)lytic and phospholipase activities were studied. In addition, the neutralization of some toxic activities conferred by four antivenins was compared. The chromatographic and electrophoretic profiles were different for the three venoms, showing differences between Bothrops and L. muta venoms. In general, bothropic venoms showed the highest toxic and enzymatic activities, while the venom of L. muta showed the lowest lethal, hemorrhagic and coagulant activities. The enzymes of bothropic venoms responsible for gelatinolytic activity were around 50-90 kDa. All the venoms were able to hydrolyze a and beta chains of the fibrinogen, showing different patterns of degradation. Although all the antivenoms tested were effective to various degrees in neutralizing the venom of B. brazili and B. atrox, neutralization of L. muta venom was significantly better achieved using the antivenom including this venom in its immunogenic mixture. For the neutralization of L. muta venom, homologous or polyvalent antivenoms that include the "bushmaster" venom in their immunogenic mixture should be preferred. PMID:18956820

  12. Pentastomiasis and other parasitic zoonoses from reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    Pantchev, Nikola; Tappe, Dennis

    2011-01-01

    Reptiles are growing in popularity as pets.The colonization of reptiles and amphibians by parasites and the resulting disease conditions are the most common problems seen in captive animals.This review focuses on pentastomiasis and sparganosis, important parasitic zoonoses of reptiles and amphibians, respectively, and free living-amoebae. Humans are suitable accidental hosts for some pentastomid species (particularly Armillifer and Porocephalus). In geographical areas with special ethnics, such as in West and Central Africa, and East Asia, 8-45% of the human population can be affected. Usually the larvae are coincidentally found during abdominal surgeries. However, fatalities have been described. Extreme caution is necessary when handling infected reptiles. Ocular or cerebral sparganosis is not uncommonly found in humans in East Asia. This disease is caused by spargana, tapeworm larvae (plerocercoids) of Spirometra sp. The infection occurs when uncooked meat from reptiles or amphibians is applied to wounds or eyes and the parasites migrate directly to human tissue, or by consumption of contaminated food or water. As a consequence of the reptile's predatory behaviour, the full spectrum of endo- and ectoparasites from potential prey animals can be found as transiting parasites in the intestinal tract, e. g. Hymenolepis nana, Cryptosporidium (C.) muris, C parvum or Capillaria hepatica. Occasionally, free-living amoebae are also found in reptile faeces (Acanthamoeba, Naegleria, Hartmanella, Vahlkampfia or Echinamoeba sp.).

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. Biodiversity of cone snails and other venomous marine gastropods: evolutionary success through neuropharmacology.

    PubMed

    Olivera, Baldomero M; Showers Corneli, Patrice; Watkins, Maren; Fedosov, Alexander

    2014-02-01

    Venomous marine snails (superfamily Conoidea) are a remarkably biodiverse marine invertebrate lineage (featuring more than 10,000 species). Conoideans use complex venoms (up to 100 different components for each species) to capture prey and for other biotic interactions. Molecular phylogeny and venom peptide characterization provide an unusual multidisciplinary view of conoidean biodiversity at several taxonomic levels. Venom peptides diverge between species at an unprecedented rate through hypermutation within gene families. Clade divergence within a genus occurs without recruiting new gene families when a saltatory event, such as colonization of new prey types (e.g., fish), leads to a new radiation. Divergence between genera in the same family involves substantial divergence in gene families. In the superfamily Conoidea, the family groups recruited distinct sets of different venom gene superfamilies. The associated morphological, behavioral, and prey-preference changes that accompany these molecular changes are unknown for most conoidean lineages, except for one genus, Conus, for which many associated phenotypic changes have been documented.

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. [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

  19. Zoonotic diseases associated with reptiles and amphibians: an update.

    PubMed

    Mitchell, Mark A

    2011-09-01

    Reptiles and amphibians are popular as pets. There are increased concerns among public health officials because of the zoonotic potential associated with these animals. Encounters with reptiles and amphibians are also on the rise in the laboratory setting and with wild animals; in both of these practices, there is also an increased likelihood for exposure to zoonotic pathogens. It is important that veterinarians remain current with the literature as it relates to emerging and reemerging zoonotic diseases attributed to reptiles and amphibians so that they can protect themselves, their staff, and their clients from potential problems.

  20. 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.

  1. [Helminthofauna of reptiles in the Republic of Belarus].

    PubMed

    Shimalov, V V

    2010-01-01

    Analysis of original long-term investigation (1980-2006) and literary data on the helminthofauna of reptiles in the Republic of Belarus is carried out. Seven species of reptiles were examined on Southern Belarus, 32 species of helminthes were found with total infestation 72.7%. It is established that the helminthofauna of reptiles in the Republic of Belarus includes 33 species (18 trematodes, two cestodes, 12 nematodes, and one acanthocephalan). The largest number of helminth species (26) was recorded in the common water snake Natrix natrix, and the least number of species (four) was recorded in the turtle Emys orbicularis and snake Coronella austriaca.

  2. [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.

  3. Transcriptome analysis of venom glands from a single fishing spider Dolomedes mizhoanus.

    PubMed

    Jiang, Liping; Liu, Changjun; Duan, Zhigui; Deng, Meichun; Tang, Xing; Liang, Songping

    2013-10-01

    The spider venom is a large pharmacological repertoire composed of different types of bioactive peptide toxins. Despite the importance of spider toxins in capturing terrestrial prey and defending themselves against predators, we know little about the venom components from the spider acting on the fish. Here we constructed a cDNA library of a pair of venomous glands from a single fish-hunting spider Dolomedes mizhoanus. A total of 356 high-quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were obtained from the venom gland cDNA library and analyzed. These transcripts were further classified into 45 clusters (19 contigs and 26 singletons), most of which encoded cystine knot toxins (CKTs) and non-CKTs. The ESTs coding for 53 novel CKT precursors were abundant transcripts in the venom glands of the spider D. mizhoanus, accounting for 76% of the total ESTs, the precursors of which were grouped into six families based on the sequence identity and the phylogenetic analysis. In addition, the non-CKTs deduced from 21% of the total ESTs were annotated by Gene Ontology terms and eukaryotic orthologous groups. Fifty-five CKT precursors deduced from 273 ESTs are the largest dataset for a single spider specimen to date. The results may contribute to discovering novel potential drug leads from spider venoms and a better understanding of the evolutionary relationship of the spider toxin.

  4. Correlating Molecular Phylogeny with Venom Apparatus Occurrence in Panamic Auger Snails (Terebridae)

    PubMed Central

    Holford, Mandë; Puillandre, Nicolas; Modica, Maria Vittoria; Watkins, Maren; Collin, Rachel; Bermingham, Eldredge; Olivera, Baldomero M.

    2009-01-01

    Central to the discovery of neuroactive compounds produced by predatory marine snails of the superfamily Conoidea (cone snails, terebrids, and turrids) is identifying those species with a venom apparatus. Previous analyses of western Pacific terebrid specimens has shown that some Terebridae groups have secondarily lost their venom apparatus. In order to efficiently characterize terebrid toxins, it is essential to devise a key for identifying which species have a venom apparatus. The findings presented here integrate molecular phylogeny and the evolution of character traits to infer the presence or absence of the venom apparatus in the Terebridae. Using a combined dataset of 156 western and 33 eastern Pacific terebrid samples, a phylogenetic tree was constructed based on analyses of 16S, COI and 12S mitochondrial genes. The 33 eastern Pacific specimens analyzed represent four different species: Acus strigatus, Terebra argyosia, T. ornata, and T. cf. formosa. Anatomical analysis was congruent with molecular characters, confirming that species included in the clade Acus do not have a venom apparatus, while those in the clade Terebra do. Discovery of the association between terebrid molecular phylogeny and the occurrence of a venom apparatus provides a useful tool for effectively identifying the terebrid lineages that may be investigated for novel pharmacological active neurotoxins, enhancing conservation of this important resource, while providing supplementary information towards understanding terebrid evolutionary diversification. PMID:19890382

  5. Development of a polymerase chain reaction to distinguish monocellate cobra (Naja khouthia) bites from other common Thai snake species, using both venom extracts and bite-site swabs.

    PubMed

    Suntrarachun, S; Pakmanee, N; Tirawatnapong, T; Chanhome, L; Sitprija, V

    2001-07-01

    A PCR technique was used in this study to identify and distinguish monocellate cobra snake bites using snake venoms and swab specimens from snake bite-sites in mice from bites by other common Thai snakes. The sequences of nucleotide primers were selected for the cobrotoxin-encoding gene from the Chinese cobra (Naja atra) since the sequences of monocellate cobra (Naja kaouthia) venom are still unknown. However, the 113-bp fragment of cDNA of the cobrotoxin-encoding gene was detected in the monocellate cobra venom using RT-PCR. This gene was not found in the venoms of Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra), Bungarus fasciatus (banded krait), Daboia russelii siamensis (Siamese Russell's Viper, and Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan pit viper). Moreover, direct PCR could detect a 665-bp fragment of the cobrotoxin-encoding gene in the monocellate cobra venom but not the other snake venoms. Likewise, this gene was only observed in swab specimens from cobra snake bite-sites in mice. This is the first report demonstrating the ability of PCR to detect the cobrotoxin-encoding gene from snake venoms and swab specimens. Further studies are required for identification of this and other snakes from the bite-sites on human skin.

  6. 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

  7. [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

  8. Invasive and introduced reptiles and amphibians: Chapter 28

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Reed, Robert N.; Krysko, Kenneth L.; Mader, Douglas R.; Divers, Stephen J.

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. The current status of amphibian and reptile ecotoxicological research

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sparling, D.W.; Bishop, C.A.; Linder, G.; Sparling, Donald W.; Linder, Greg L.; Bishop, Christine A.

    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.

  11. FLOTAC can detect parasitic and pseudoparasitic elements in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Rinaldi, L; Mihalca, A D; Cirillo, R; Maurelli, M P; Montesano, M; Capasso, M; Cringoli, G

    2012-03-01

    Reptiles have increased in popularity worldwide; snakes and lizards are frequently used as pets. As a consequence of their popularity, the interest of the scientific community in these animals has increased. In order to acquire epidemiological data on the parasitic infections affecting reptiles in Italy a survey was carried out in 125 snakes and 25 lizards bred in the Campania region of southern Italy. Individual fecal samples were collected and FLOTAC was used for copromicroscopic diagnosis. Eimeriidae, oxyurids, strongylids, other gastro-intestinal nematodes and pulmonary nematodes were the most representative parasites found. Eggs of pseudoparasites (mites, oxyurids and trichurids affecting rodents) were also found. The use of FLOTAC for diagnosis of parasitic infections in reptiles has demonstrated to be a rapid and sensitive test to improve diagnosis and acquire new information on the parasitological fauna of reptiles. PMID:22306152

  12. The conservation status of the world’s reptiles

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Böhm, Monika; Reynolds, Robert P.; ,

    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.

  13. 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

  14. Gonadal differentiation in reptiles exhibiting environmental sex determination.

    PubMed

    Kohno, Satomi; Parrott, Benjamin B; Yatsu, Ryohei; Miyagawa, Shinichi; Moore, Brandon C; Iguchi, Taisen; Guillette, Louis

    2014-01-01

    As temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and homozygote or heterozygote genetic sex determination (GSD) exist in multiple reptilian taxa, they represent sex determination systems that have emerged de novo. Current investigations have revealed that the genetic mechanisms used by various reptilian species are similar to those used by other vertebrates. However, the recent completion or near completion of various reptilian genome projects suggests that new studies examining related species with and without TSD could begin to provide additional insight into the evolution of TSD and GSD in vertebrate ancestors. Major questions still remain concerning germ cell migration and specification, the differentiation of gonadal accessory cells, such as the Sertoli cells and granulosa cells of the developing testis and ovary, respectively, and the mechanisms by which gene expression is regulated during TSD events. Further, reptilian sentinels and their mechanisms of gonadogenesis will likely remain important indicator species for environmental health. Thus, ongoing and new investigations need to tie molecular information to gonadal morphogenesis and function in reptiles. Such data will not only provide important information for an understanding of the evolution of these phenomena in vertebrates, but could also provide an important understanding of the health of the environment around us.

  15. Gonadal differentiation in reptiles exhibiting environmental sex determination.

    PubMed

    Kohno, Satomi; Parrott, Benjamin B; Yatsu, Ryohei; Miyagawa, Shinichi; Moore, Brandon C; Iguchi, Taisen; Guillette, Louis

    2014-01-01

    As temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and homozygote or heterozygote genetic sex determination (GSD) exist in multiple reptilian taxa, they represent sex determination systems that have emerged de novo. Current investigations have revealed that the genetic mechanisms used by various reptilian species are similar to those used by other vertebrates. However, the recent completion or near completion of various reptilian genome projects suggests that new studies examining related species with and without TSD could begin to provide additional insight into the evolution of TSD and GSD in vertebrate ancestors. Major questions still remain concerning germ cell migration and specification, the differentiation of gonadal accessory cells, such as the Sertoli cells and granulosa cells of the developing testis and ovary, respectively, and the mechanisms by which gene expression is regulated during TSD events. Further, reptilian sentinels and their mechanisms of gonadogenesis will likely remain important indicator species for environmental health. Thus, ongoing and new investigations need to tie molecular information to gonadal morphogenesis and function in reptiles. Such data will not only provide important information for an understanding of the evolution of these phenomena in vertebrates, but could also provide an important understanding of the health of the environment around us. PMID:24642710

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. Hydrolysis of DNA by 17 snake venoms.

    PubMed

    de Roodt, Adolfo Rafael; Litwin, Silvana; Angel, Sergio O

    2003-08-01

    DNA hydrolysis caused by venoms of 17 species of snakes was studied by different methodologies. Endonucleolytic activity was tested by incubation of the venoms with the plasmid pBluescript and subsequent visualization of the electrophoretic patterns in 1% agarose gels stained with ethidium bromide. DNA was sequentially degraded, from supercoiled to opened circle, to linear form, in a concentration dependent manner. The highest hydrolytic activity was observed in Bothrops (B.) neuwiedii and Naja (N.) siamensis venoms. Exonucleolytic activity was analyzed on pBluescript digested with SmaI or EcoRI. All venoms caused complete hydrolysis after 2 h of incubation. SDS-PAGE analysis in gels containing calf thymus DNA showed that the hydrolytic bands were located at approximately 30 kDa. DNA degradation was studied by radial hydrolysis in 1% agarose gels containing calf thymus DNA plus ethidium bromide and visualized by UV light. Venom of B. neuwiedii showed the highest activity whereas those of B. ammodytoides and Ovophis okinavensis (P<0.05) showed the lowest activity. Antibodies against venom of B. neuwiedii or N. siamensis neutralized the DNAse activity of both venoms. In conclusion, venom from different snakes showed endo- and exonucleolytic activity on DNA. The inhibition of DNA hydrolysis by EDTA and heterologous antibodies suggests similarities in the structure of the venom components involved.

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Proteome and peptidome profiling of spider venoms.

    PubMed

    Liang, Songping

    2008-10-01

    Spider venoms are an important source of novel molecules with different pharmacological properties. Recent technological developments of proteomics, especially mass spectrometry, have greatly promoted the systematic analysis of spider venom. The enormous diversity of venom components between spider species and the lack of complete genome sequence, and the limited database of protein and peptide sequences make spider venom profiling a challenging task and special considerations for technical strategies are required. This review highlights recently used methods for spider venom profiling. In general, spider venom profiling can be achieved in two parts: proteome profiling of the components with molecular weights above 10 kDa, and peptidome profiling of the components with a molecular weight of 10 kDa or under through the use of different methods. Venom proteomes are rich in various enzymes, hemocyanins, toxin-like proteins and many unknown proteins. Peptidomes are dominated by peptides with a mass of 3-6 kDa with three to five disulfide bonds. Although there are some similarities in peptide superfamily types of venoms from different spider species, the venom profile of each species is unique. The linkage of the peptidomic data with that of the cDNA approach is discussed briefly. Future challenges and perspectives are also highlighted in this review.

  5. Snake venom antibodies in Ecuadorian Indians.

    PubMed

    Theakston, R D; Reid, H A; Larrick, J W; Kaplan, J; Yost, J A

    1981-10-01

    Serum samples from 223 Waorani Indians, a tribe in eastern Ecuador, were investigated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for antibodies to snake venom. Seventy-eight per cent were positive, confirming the highest incidence and mortality from snake bite poisoning yet recorded in the world. Most samples were positive for more than one venom antibody. Antibodies were found to venoms of Bothrops viper in 60% of positive cases, of Micrurus coral snake in 21%, and of the bushmaster, Lachesis muta, in 18%. Further studies are needed to determine whether high venom-antibody levels afford protection against further snake envenoming. PMID:7299877

  6. 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.

  7. PREVALENCE OF SALMONELLA IN CAPTIVE REPTILES FROM CROATIA.

    PubMed

    Lukac, Maja; Pedersen, Karl; Prukner-Radovcic, Estella

    2015-06-01

    Salmonellosis transmitted by pet reptiles is an increasing public health issue worldwide. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of Salmonella strains from captive reptiles in Croatia. From November 2009 to November 2011 a total of 292 skin, pharyngeal, cloacal, and fecal samples from 200 apparently healthy reptiles were tested for Salmonella excretions by bacteriologic culture and serotyping. These 200 individual reptiles included 31 lizards, 79 chelonians, and 90 snakes belonging to private owners or housed at the Zagreb Zoo, Croatia. Salmonella was detected in a total of 13% of the animals, among them 48.4% lizards, 8.9% snakes, and 3.8% turtles. Representatives of five of the six Salmonella enterica subspecies were identified with the following proportions in the total number of isolates: Salmonella enterica enterica 34.6%, Salmonella enterica houtenae 23.1%, Salmonella enterica arizonae 23.1%, Salmonella enterica diarizonae 15.4%, and Salmonella enterica salamae 3.8%. The 14 different serovars isolated included several rarely occurring serovars such as Salmonella Apapa, Salmonella Halle, Salmonella Kisarawe, and Salmonella Potengi. These findings confirm that the prevalence of Salmonella is considerable in captive reptiles in Croatia, indicating that these animals may harbor serovars not commonly seen in veterinary or human microbiologic practice. This should be addressed in the prevention and diagnostics of human reptile-transmitted infections.

  8. Evolutionary Analysis of Novel Serine Proteases in the Venom Gland Transcriptome of Bitis gabonica rhinoceros

    PubMed Central

    Vaiyapuri, Sakthivel; Wagstaff, Simon C.; Harrison, Robert A.; Gibbins, Jonathan M.; Hutchinson, E. Gail

    2011-01-01

    Background Serine proteases are major components of viper venom and target various stages of the blood coagulation system in victims and prey. A better understanding of the diversity of serine proteases and other enzymes present in snake venom will help to understand how the complexity of snake venom has evolved and will aid the development of novel therapeutics for treating snake bites. Methodology and Principal Findings Four serine protease-encoding genes from the venom gland transcriptome of Bitis gabonica rhinoceros were amplified and sequenced. Mass spectrometry suggests the four enzymes corresponding to these genes are present in the venom of B. g. rhinoceros. Two of the enzymes, rhinocerases 2 and 3 have substitutions to two of the serine protease catalytic triad residues and are thus unlikely to be catalytically active, though they may have evolved other toxic functions. The other two enzymes, rhinocerases 4 and 5, have classical serine protease catalytic triad residues and thus are likely to be catalytically active, however they have glycine rather than the more typical aspartic acid at the base of the primary specificity pocket (position 189). Based on a detailed analysis of these sequences we suggest that alternative splicing together with individual amino acid mutations may have been involved in their evolution. Changes within amino acid segments which were previously proposed to undergo accelerated change in venom serine proteases have also been observed. Conclusions and Significance Our study provides further insight into the diversity of serine protease isoforms present within snake venom and discusses their possible functions and how they may have evolved. These multiple serine protease isoforms with different substrate specificities may enhance the envenomation effects and help the snake to adapt to new habitats and diets. Our findings have potential for helping the future development of improved therapeutics for snake bites. PMID:21731776

  9. 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

  10. Venom immunotherapy in patients with mastocytosis and hymenoptera venom anaphylaxis.

    PubMed

    González-de-Olano, David; Alvarez-Twose, Iván; Vega, Arantza; Orfao, Alberto; Escribano, Luis

    2011-05-01

    Systemic mastocytosis (SM) is typically suspected in patients with cutaneous mastocytosis (CM). In recent years, the presence of clonal mast cells (MCs) in a subset of patients with systemic symptoms associated with MC activation in the absence of CM has been reported and termed monoclonal MC activation syndromes or clonal systemic MC activation syndromes. In these cases, bone marrow (BM) MC numbers are usually lower than in SM with CM, there are no detectable BM MC aggregates, and serum baseline tryptase is often <20 µg/l; thus, diagnosis of SM in these patients should be based on careful evaluation of other minor WHO criteria for SM in reference centers, where highly sensitive techniques for immunophenotypic analysis and investigation of KIT mutations on fluorescence-activated cell sorter-purified BM MCs are routinely performed. The prevalence of hymenoptera venom anaphylaxis (HVA) among SM patients is higher than among the normal population and it has been reported to be approximately 5%. In SM patients with IgE-mediated HVA, venom immunotherapy is safe and effective and it should be prescribed lifelong. Severe adverse reactions to hymenoptera stings or venom immunotherapy have been associated with increased serum baseline tryptase; however, presence of clonal MC has not been ruled out in most reports and thus both SM and clonal MC activation syndrome might be underdiagnosed in such patients. In fact, clonal BM MC appears to be a relevant risk factor for both HVA and severe reactions to venom immunotherapy, while the increase in serum baseline tryptase by itself should be considered as a powerful surrogate marker for anaphylaxis. The Spanish Network on Mastocytosis has developed a scoring system based on patient gender, the clinical symptoms observed during anaphylaxis and serum baseline tryptase to predict for the presence of both MC clonality and SM among individuals who suffer from anaphylaxis.

  11. Molecular phylogeny and evolution of the proteins encoded by coleoid (cuttlefish, octopus, and squid) posterior venom glands.

    PubMed

    Ruder, Tim; Sunagar, Kartik; Undheim, Eivind A B; Ali, Syed A; Wai, Tak-Cheung; Low, Dolyce H W; Jackson, Timothy N W; King, Glenn F; Antunes, Agostinho; Fry, Bryan G

    2013-04-01

    In this study, we report for the first time a detailed evaluation of the phylogenetic history and molecular evolution of the major coleoid toxins: CAP, carboxypeptidase, chitinase, metalloprotease GON-domain, hyaluronidase, pacifastin, PLA2, SE-cephalotoxin and serine proteases, with the carboxypeptidase and GON-domain documented for the first time in the coleoid venom arsenal. We show that although a majority of sites in these coleoid venom-encoding genes have evolved under the regime of negative selection, a very small proportion of sites are influenced by the transient selection pressures. Moreover, nearly 70 % of these episodically adapted sites are confined to the molecular surface, highlighting the importance of variation of the toxin surface chemistry. Coleoid venoms were revealed to be as complex as other venoms that have traditionally been the recipient of the bulk of research efforts. The presence of multiple peptide/protein types in coleoids similar to those present in other animal venoms identifies a convergent strategy, revealing new information as to what characteristics make a peptide/protein type amenable for recruitment into chemical arsenals. Coleoid venoms have significant potential not only for understanding fundamental aspects of venom evolution but also as an untapped source of novel toxins for use in drug design and discovery.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. Snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic analysis of Brazilian coral snakes, Micrurus altirostris and M. corallinus.

    PubMed

    Corrêa-Netto, Carlos; Junqueira-de-Azevedo, Inácio de L M; Silva, Débora A; Ho, Paulo L; Leitão-de-Araújo, Moema; Alves, Maria Lúcia M; Sanz, Libia; Foguel, Débora; Zingali, Russolina Benedeta; Calvete, Juan J

    2011-08-24

    The venom proteomes of Micrurus altirostris and M. corallinus were analyzed by combining snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic surveys. In both coral snake species, 3FTx and PLA(2) were the most abundant and diversified toxin families. 33 different 3FTxs and 13 PLA(2) proteins, accounting respectively for 79.5% and 13.7% of the total proteins, were identified in the venom of M. altirostris. The venom of M. corallinus comprised 10 3FTx (81.7% of the venom proteome) and 4 (11.9%) PLA(2) molecules. Transcriptomic data provided the full-length amino acid sequences of 18 (M. altirostris) and 10 (M. corallinus) 3FTxs, and 3 (M. altirostris) and 1 (M. corallinus) novel PLA(2) sequences. In addition, venom from each species contained single members of minor toxin families: 3 common (PIII-SVMP, C-type lectin-like, L-amino acid oxidase) and 4 species-specific (CRISP, Kunitz-type inhibitor, lysosomal acid lipase in M. altirostris; serine proteinase in M. corallinus) toxin classes. The finding of a lipase (LIPA) in the venom proteome and in the venom gland transcriptome of M. altirostris supports the view of a recruitment event predating the divergence of Elapidae and Viperidae more than 60 Mya. The toxin profile of both M. altirostris and M. corallinus venoms points to 3FTxs and PLA(2) molecules as the major players of the envenoming process. In M. altirostris venom, all major, and most minor, 3FTxs display highest similarity to type I α-neurotoxins, suggesting that these postsynaptically acting toxins may play the predominant role in the neurotoxic effect leading to peripheral paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. M. corallinus venom posesses both, type I α-neurotoxins and a high-abundance (26% of the venom proteome) protein of subfamily XIX of 3FTxs, exhibiting similarity to bucandin from Malayan krait, Bungarus candidus, venom, which enhances acetylcholine release presynaptically. This finding may explain the presynaptic neurotoxicity of M. corallinus venom

  18. 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.

  19. Researching nature's venoms and poisons.

    PubMed

    Warrell, David A

    2009-09-01

    Our environment hosts a vast diversity of venomous and poisonous animals and plants. Clinical toxinology is devoted to understanding, preventing and treating their effects in humans and domestic animals. In Sri Lanka, yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana, Sinhala 'kaneru'), a widespread and accessible ornamental shrub, is a popular means of self-harm. Its toxic glycosides resemble those of foxglove, against which therapeutic antibodies have been raised. A randomised placebo-controlled trial proved that this treatment effectively reversed kaneru cardiotoxicity. There are strong scientific grounds for the use of activated charcoal, but encouraging results with multiple-dose activated charcoal were not confirmed by a recent more powerful study. Venom of Russell's viper (Daboia siamensis) in Burma (Myanmar) produces lethal effects in human victims. The case of a 17-year-old rice farmer is described with pathophysiological interpretations. During the first 9 days of hospital admission he suffered episodes of shock, coagulopathy, bleeding, acute renal failure, local tissue necrosis, generally increased capillary permeability and acute symptomatic hypoglycaemia with evidence of acute pituitary/adrenal insufficiency. Antivenom rapidly restored haemostatic function but failed to correct other effects of venom toxins incurred during the 3h before he could be treated.

  20. Differential metalloprotease content and activity of three Loxosceles spider venoms revealed using two-dimensional electrophoresis approaches.

    PubMed

    Trevisan-Silva, Dilza; Bednaski, Aline Viana; Gremski, Luiza Helena; Chaim, Olga Meiri; Veiga, Silvio Sanches; Senff-Ribeiro, Andrea

    2013-12-15

    Loxosceles bites have been associated with characteristic dermonecrotic lesions with gravitational spreading and systemic manifestations. Venom primarily comprises peptides and protein molecules (5-40 kDa) with multiple biological activities. Although poorly studied, metalloproteases have been identified in venoms of several Loxosceles species, presenting proteolytic effects on extracellular matrix components. The characterization of an Astacin-like protease (LALP) in Loxosceles intermedia venom was the first report of an Astacin family member as a component of animal venom. Recently, these proteases were described as a gene family in L. intermedia, Loxosceles laeta and Loxosceles gaucho. Herein, the whole venom complexity of these three Loxosceles species was analyzed using two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE). Subproteomes of LALPs were explored through 2DE immunostaining using anti-LALP1 antibodies and 2DE gelatin zymogram. Proteins presented molecular masses ranging from 24 to 29 kDa and the majority of these molecules had basic or neutral isoelectric points (6.89-9.93). Likewise, the measurement of gelatinolytic effects of Loxosceles venom using fluorescein-gelatin showed that the three venoms have distinct proteolytic activities. The metalloprotease fibrinogenolytic activities were also evaluated. All venoms showed fibrinogenolytic activity with different proteolytic effects on Aα and Bβ chains of fibrinogen. The results reported herein suggest that the LALP family is larger than indicated in previously published data and that the complex profile of the gelatinolytic activity reflects their relevance in loxoscelism. Furthermore, our investigation implicates the brown spider venom as a source of Astacin-like proteases for use in loxoscelism studies, cell biology research and biotechnological applications.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Spider-venom peptides as therapeutics.

    PubMed

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

    2010-12-01

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. [Bites of venomous snakes in Switzerland].

    PubMed

    Plate, Andreas; Kupferschmidt, Hugo; Schneemann, Markus

    2016-06-01

    Although snake bites are rare in Europe, there are a constant number of snake bites in Switzerland. There are two domestic venomous snakes in Switzerland: the aspic viper (Vipera aspis) and the common European adder (Vipera berus). Bites from venomous snakes are caused either by one of the two domestic venomous snakes or by an exotic venomous snake kept in a terrarium. Snake- bites can cause both a local and/or a systemic envenoming. Potentially fatal systemic complications are related to disturbances of the hemostatic- and cardiovascular system as well as the central or peripheral nervous system. Beside a symptomatic therapy the administration of antivenom is the only causal therapy to neutralize the venomous toxins.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. [Bites of venomous snakes in Switzerland].

    PubMed

    Plate, Andreas; Kupferschmidt, Hugo; Schneemann, Markus

    2016-06-01

    Although snake bites are rare in Europe, there are a constant number of snake bites in Switzerland. There are two domestic venomous snakes in Switzerland: the aspic viper (Vipera aspis) and the common European adder (Vipera berus). Bites from venomous snakes are caused either by one of the two domestic venomous snakes or by an exotic venomous snake kept in a terrarium. Snake- bites can cause both a local and/or a systemic envenoming. Potentially fatal systemic complications are related to disturbances of the hemostatic- and cardiovascular system as well as the central or peripheral nervous system. Beside a symptomatic therapy the administration of antivenom is the only causal therapy to neutralize the venomous toxins. PMID:27269771

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

    PubMed

    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 of

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

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

    PubMed

    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

  16. 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.

  17. Control of respiration in fish, amphibians and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Taylor, E W; Leite, C A C; McKenzie, D J; Wang, T

    2010-05-01

    Fish and amphibians utilise a suction/force pump to ventilate gills or lungs, with the respiratory muscles innervated by cranial nerves, while reptiles have a thoracic, aspiratory pump innervated by spinal nerves. However, fish can recruit a hypobranchial pump for active jaw occlusion during hypoxia, using feeding muscles innervated by anterior spinal nerves. This same pump is used to ventilate the air-breathing organ in air-breathing fishes. Some reptiles retain a buccal force pump for use during hypoxia or exercise. All vertebrates have respiratory rhythm generators (RRG) located in the brainstem. In cyclostomes and possibly jawed fishes, this may comprise elements of the trigeminal nucleus, though in the latter group RRG neurons have been located in the reticular formation. In air-breathing fishes and amphibians, there may be separate RRG for gill and lung ventilation. There is some evidence for multiple RRG in reptiles. Both amphibians and reptiles show episodic breathing patterns that may be centrally generated, though they do respond to changes in oxygen supply. Fish and larval amphibians have chemoreceptors sensitive to oxygen partial pressure located on the gills. Hypoxia induces increased ventilation and a reflex bradycardia and may trigger aquatic surface respiration or air-breathing, though these latter activities also respond to behavioural cues. Adult amphibians and reptiles have peripheral chemoreceptors located on the carotid arteries and central chemoreceptors sensitive to blood carbon dioxide levels. Lung perfusion may be regulated by cardiac shunting and lung ventilation stimulates lung stretch receptors.

  18. [Reptile-associated salmonellosis as an important epidemiological problem].

    PubMed

    Pawlak, Aleksandra

    2014-11-17

    of food poisoning. One of the reservoirs of Salmonella are reptiles, which are increasingly kept as pets. Most reptiles are asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella. These strains, isolated from reptiles, can cause serious infections, especially in infants, young children and people with immunodeficiencies. The disease called reptile-associated salmonellosis (RAS) may manifest with bloody diarrhea, meningitis, and arthritis, and consequently can cause bacteremia and sepsis. Among the strains described in the literature, Salmonella strains possessing the O48 antigen are an important group. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of Salmonella O48 contains sialic acid (NeuAc) in an O-specific-chain. LPS containing NeuAc exhibits antigenic similarity to antigens found in the human body, including blood serum, and therefore is correlated with the occurrence of the dangerous phenomenon of molecular mimicry. Bacteria containing NeuAc in their outer structures can evade the immunological response of the host, which significantly increases their virulence. Most data about RAS come from the USA, but in recent years cases from European countries are more frequent in the literature. Unfortunately, the occurrence of RAS in Poland has not been monitored so far. There is also no campaign to inform the public about the health risks connected with contact of people with reptiles.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. The Snake with the Scorpion’s Sting: Novel Three-Finger Toxin Sodium Channel Activators from the Venom of the Long-Glanded Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus)

    PubMed Central

    Yang, Daryl C.; Deuis, Jennifer R.; Dashevsky, Daniel; Dobson, James; Jackson, Timothy N. W.; Brust, Andreas; Xie, Bing; Koludarov, Ivan; Debono, Jordan; Hendrikx, Iwan; Hodgson, Wayne C.; Josh, Peter; Nouwens, Amanda; Baillie, Gregory J.; Bruxner, Timothy J. C.; Alewood, Paul F.; Lim, Kelvin Kok Peng; Frank, Nathaniel; Vetter, Irina; Fry, Bryan G.

    2016-01-01

    Millions of years of evolution have fine-tuned the ability of venom peptides to rapidly incapacitate both prey and potential predators. Toxicofera reptiles are characterized by serous-secreting mandibular or maxillary glands with heightened levels of protein expression. These glands are the core anatomical components of the toxicoferan venom system, which exists in myriad points along an evolutionary continuum. Neofunctionalisation of toxins is facilitated by positive selection at functional hotspots on the ancestral protein and venom proteins have undergone dynamic diversification in helodermatid and varanid lizards as well as advanced snakes. A spectacular point on the venom system continuum is the long-glanded blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgatus), a specialist feeder that preys on fast moving, venomous snakes which have both a high likelihood of prey escape but also represent significant danger to the predator itself. The maxillary venom glands of C. bivirgatus extend one quarter of the snake’s body length and nestle within the rib cavity. Despite the snake’s notoriety its venom has remained largely unstudied. Here we show that the venom uniquely produces spastic paralysis, in contrast to the flaccid paralysis typically produced by neurotoxic snake venoms. The toxin responsible, which we have called calliotoxin (δ-elapitoxin-Cb1a), is a three-finger toxin (3FTx). Calliotoxin shifts the voltage-dependence of NaV1.4 activation to more hyperpolarised potentials, inhibits inactivation, and produces large ramp currents, consistent with its profound effects on contractile force in an isolated skeletal muscle preparation. Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaV) are a particularly attractive pharmacological target as they are involved in almost all physiological processes including action potential generation and conduction. Accordingly, venom peptides that interfere with NaV function provide a key defensive and predatory advantage to a range of invertebrate

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. [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

  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.

  6. Venom Insulins of Cone Snails Diversify Rapidly and Track Prey Taxa

    PubMed Central

    Safavi-Hemami, Helena; Lu, Aiping; Li, Qing; Fedosov, Alexander E.; Biggs, Jason; Showers Corneli, Patrice; Seger, Jon; Yandell, Mark; Olivera, Baldomero M.

    2016-01-01

    A specialized insulin was recently found in the venom of a fish-hunting cone snail, Conus geographus. Here we show that many worm-hunting and snail-hunting cones also express venom insulins, and that this novel gene family has diversified explosively. Cone snails express a highly conserved insulin in their nerve ring; presumably this conventional signaling insulin is finely tuned to the Conus insulin receptor, which also evolves very slowly. By contrast, the venom insulins diverge rapidly, apparently in response to biotic interactions with prey and also possibly the cones’ own predators and competitors. Thus, the inwardly directed signaling insulins appear to experience predominantly purifying sele\\ction to target an internal receptor that seldom changes, while the outwardly directed venom insulins frequently experience directional selection to target heterospecific insulin receptors in a changing mix of prey, predators and competitors. Prey insulin receptors may often be constrained in ways that prevent their evolutionary escape from targeted venom insulins, if amino-acid substitutions that result in escape also degrade the receptor’s signaling functions. PMID:27524826

  7. Use of tricaine methanesulfonate (MS222) for euthanasia of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Conroy, C J; Papenfuss, T; Parker, J; Hahn, N E

    2009-01-01

    Tricaine methanesulfonate (MS222) injected into the intracoelomic cavity of reptiles was evaluated as a chemical euthanasia method. Three western fence lizards, 2 desert iguanas, 4 garter snakes, and 6 geckos were euthanized by intracoelomic injection of 250 to 500 mg/kg of 0.7% to 1% sodium-bicarbonate-buffered MS222 solution followed by intracoelomic injection of 0.1 to 1.0 ml unbuffered 50% (v/v) MS222 solution. A simple 2-stage protocol for euthanasia of reptiles by using MS222 is outlined. In addition, the conditions for safe use of MS222 are discussed. MS222 offers an alternative to sodium pentobarbital for euthanasia of reptiles. PMID:19245747

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Rampant Horizontal Transfer of SPIN Transposons in Squamate Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Gilbert, Clément; Hernandez, Sharon S.; Flores-Benabib, Jaime; Smith, Eric N.; Feschotte, Cédric

    2012-01-01

    Transposable elements (TEs) are highly abundant in the genome and capable of mobility, two properties that make them particularly prone to transfer horizontally between organisms. Although the impact of horizontal transfer (HT) of TEs is well recognized in prokaryotes, the frequency of this phenomenon and its contribution to genome evolution in eukaryotes remain poorly appreciated. Here, we provide evidence that a DNA transposon called SPIN has colonized the genome of 17 species of reptiles representing nearly every major lineage of squamates, including 14 families of lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians. Slot blot analyses indicate that SPIN has amplified to high copy numbers in most of these species, ranging from 2,000–28,000 copies per haploid genome. In contrast, we could not detect the presence of SPIN in any of the turtles (seven species from seven families) and crocodiles (four species) examined. Genetic distances between SPIN sequences from species belonging to different squamate families are consistently very low (average = 0.1), considering the deep evolutionary divergence of the families investigated (most are >100 My diverged). Furthermore, these distances fall below interfamilial distances calculated for two genes known to have evolved under strong functional constraint in vertebrates (RAG1, average = 0.24 and C-mos, average = 0.27). These data, combined with phylogenetic analyses, indicate that the widespread distribution of SPIN among squamates is the result of at least 13 independent events of HTs. Molecular dating and paleobiogeographical data suggest that these transfers took place during the last 50 My on at least three different continents (North America, South America and, Africa). Together, these results triple the number of known SPIN transfer events among tetrapods, provide evidence for a previously hypothesized transoceanic movement of SPIN transposons during the Cenozoic, and further underscore the role of HT in the evolution of

  11. Molecular diversification in spider venoms: a web of combinatorial peptide libraries.

    PubMed

    Escoubas, Pierre

    2006-11-01

    Spider venoms are a rich source of novel pharmacologically and agrochemically interesting compounds that have received increased attention from pharmacologists and biochemists in recent years. The application of technologies derived from genomics and proteomics have led to the discovery of the enormous molecular diversity of those venoms, which consist mainly of peptides and proteins. The molecular diversity of spider peptides has been revealed by mass spectrometry and appears to be based on a limited set of structural scaffolds. Genetic analysis has led to a further understanding of the molecular evolution mechanisms presiding over the generation of these combinatorial peptide libraries. Gene duplication and focal hypermutation, which has been described in cone snails, appear to be common mechanisms to venomous mollusks and spiders. Post-translational modifications, fine structural variations and new molecular scaffolds are other potential mechanisms of toxin diversification, leading to the pharmacologically complex cocktails used for predation and defense.

  12. 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.

  13. Removing forest canopy cover restores a reptile assemblage.

    PubMed

    Pike, David A; Webb, Jonathan K; Shine, Richard

    2011-01-01

    Humans are rapidly altering natural systems, leading to changes in the distribution and abundance of species. However, so many changes are occurring simultaneously (e.g., climate change, habitat fragmentation) that it is difficult to determine the cause of population fluctuations from correlational studies. We used a manipulative field experiment to determine whether forest canopy cover directly influences reptile assemblages on rock outcrops in southeastern Australia. Our experimental design consisted of three types of rock outcrops: (1) shady sites in which overgrown vegetation was manually removed (n = 25); (2) overgrown controls (n = 30); and (3) sun-exposed controls (n = 20). Following canopy removal, we monitored reptile responses over 30 months. Canopy removal increased reptile species richness, the proportion of shelter sites used by reptiles, and relative abundances of five species that prefer sun-exposed habitats. Our manipulation also decreased the abundances of two shade-tolerant species. Canopy cover thus directly influences this reptile assemblage, with the effects of canopy removal being dependent on each species' habitat preferences (i.e., selection or avoidance of sun-exposed habitat). Our study suggests that increases in canopy cover can cause declines of open-habitat specialists, as previously suggested by correlative studies from a wide range of taxa. Given that reptile colonization of manipulated outcrops occurred rapidly, artificially opening the canopy in ecologically informed ways could help to conserve imperiled species with patchy distributions and low vagility that are threatened by vegetation overgrowth. One such species is Australia's most endangered snake, the broadheaded snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides).

  14. 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.

  15. Biological risks associated with consumption of reptile products.

    PubMed

    Magnino, Simone; Colin, Pierre; Dei-Cas, Eduardo; Madsen, Mogens; McLauchlin, Jim; Nöckler, Karsten; Maradona, Miguel Prieto; Tsigarida, Eirini; Vanopdenbosch, Emmanuel; Van Peteghem, Carlos

    2009-09-15

    The consumption of a wide variety of species of reptiles caught from the wild has been an important source of protein for humans world-wide for millennia. Terrapins, snakes, lizards, crocodiles and iguanas are now farmed and the consumption and trade of their meat and other edible products have recently increased in some areas of the world. Biological risks associated with the consumption of products from both farmed and wild reptile meat and eggs include infections caused by bacteria (Salmonella spp., Vibrio spp.), parasites (Spirometra, Trichinella, Gnathostoma, pentastomids), as well as intoxications by biotoxins. For crocodiles, Salmonella spp. constitute a significant public health risk due to the high intestinal carrier rate which is reflected in an equally high contamination rate in their fresh and frozen meat. There is a lack of information about the presence of Salmonella spp. in meat from other edible reptilians, though captive reptiles used as pets (lizards or turtles) are frequently carriers of these bacteria in Europe. Parasitic protozoa in reptiles represent a negligible risk for public health compared to parasitic metazoans, of which trichinellosis, pentastomiasis, gnathostomiasis and sparganosis can be acquired through consumption of contaminated crocodile, monitor lizard, turtle and snake meat, respectively. Other reptiles, although found to harbour the above parasites, have not been implicated with their transmission to humans. Freezing treatment inactivates Spirometra and Trichinella in crocodile meat, while the effectiveness of freezing of other reptilian meat is unknown. Biotoxins that accumulate in the flesh of sea turtles may cause chelonitoxism, a type of food poisoning with a high mortality rate in humans. Infections by fungi, including yeasts, and viruses widely occur in reptiles but have not been linked to a human health risk through the contamination of their meat. Currently there are no indications that natural transmissible spongiform

  16. 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.

  17. Serological analysis of venoms and antivenins*

    PubMed Central

    Schöttler, W. H. A.

    1955-01-01

    The immunological relationship between the venoms of six species of the snake genus Bothrops (alternata, atrox, cotiara, jararaca, jararacussu, neuwiedii) was investigated by assay against the corresponding species-specific antivenins in more than 11,000 intravenous and subcutaneous mouse tests. The observations were statistically analysed after the probit method. Both ways of antivenin assay gave numerically identical results, within the limits of error, in the majority of the tests. The width of the neutralization spectra of the monovalent sera anti-atrox, anti-jararaca, and anti-neuwiedii against the heterologous venoms is similar to that of a polyvalent antivenin obtained by immunization with all the six species of venom. The titre of a polyvalent antibothropic serum may vary with the venom species used in the assay. The following are discussed: reasons for occasional difficulties in reproducing results, variations in the toxicity of different samples of the same venom species, divergences in the susceptibility of various species of laboratory animals to venom, and inter-relations between venoms and antivenins. PMID:13240449

  18. 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

  19. 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

  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.

  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. Hemostatic properties of Venezuelan Bothrops snake venoms with special reference to Bothrops isabelae venom.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez-Acosta, Alexis; Sánchez, Elda E; Márquez, Adriana; Carvajal, Zoila; Salazar, Ana M; Girón, María E; Estrella, Amalid; Gil, Amparo; Guerrero, Belsy

    2010-11-01

    In Venezuela, Bothrops snakes are responsible for more than 80% of all recorded snakebites. This study focuses on the biological and hemostatic characteristics of Bothrops isabelae venom along with its comparative characteristics with two other closely related Bothrops venoms, Bothrops atrox and Bothrops colombiensis. Electrophoretic profiles of crude B. isabelae venom showed protein bands between 14 and 100 kDa with the majority in the range of 14-31 kDa. The molecular exclusion chromatographic profile of this venom contains five fractions (F1-F5). Amidolytic activity evaluation evidenced strong thrombin-like followed by kallikrein-like activities in crude venom and in fractions F1 and F2. The fibrinogenolytic activity of B. isabelae venom at a ratio of 100:1 (fibrinogen/venom) induced a degradation of A alpha and B beta chains at 15 min and 2 h, respectively. At a ratio of 100:10, a total degradation of A alpha and B beta chains at 5 min and of gamma chains at 24 h was apparent. This current study evidences one of rarely reported for Bothrops venoms, which resembles the physiologic effect of plasmin. B. isabelae venom as well as F2 and F3 fractions, contain fibrinolytic activity on fibrin plate of 36, 23.5 and 9.45 mm(2)/microg, respectively using 25 microg of protein. Crude venom and F1 fraction showed gelatinolytic activity. Comparative analysis amongst Venezuelan bothropoid venoms, evidenced that the LD(50) of B. isabelae (5.9 mg/kg) was similar to B. atrox-Puerto Ayacucho 1 (6.1 mg/kg) and B. colombiensis-Caucagua (5.8 mg/kg). B. isabelae venom showed minor hemorrhagic activity, whereas B. atrox-Parguasa (Bolivar state) was the most hemorrhagic. In this study, a relative high thrombin-like activity was observed in B. colombiensis venoms (502-568 mUA/min/mg), and a relative high factor Xa-like activity was found in B. atrox venoms (126-294 mUA/min/mg). Fibrinolytic activity evaluated with 10 microg protein, showed that B. isabelae venom contained higher

  3. Hemostatic properties of Venezuelan Bothrops snake venoms with special reference to Bothrops isabelae venom.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez-Acosta, Alexis; Sánchez, Elda E; Márquez, Adriana; Carvajal, Zoila; Salazar, Ana M; Girón, María E; Estrella, Amalid; Gil, Amparo; Guerrero, Belsy

    2010-11-01

    In Venezuela, Bothrops snakes are responsible for more than 80% of all recorded snakebites. This study focuses on the biological and hemostatic characteristics of Bothrops isabelae venom along with its comparative characteristics with two other closely related Bothrops venoms, Bothrops atrox and Bothrops colombiensis. Electrophoretic profiles of crude B. isabelae venom showed protein bands between 14 and 100 kDa with the majority in the range of 14-31 kDa. The molecular exclusion chromatographic profile of this venom contains five fractions (F1-F5). Amidolytic activity evaluation evidenced strong thrombin-like followed by kallikrein-like activities in crude venom and in fractions F1 and F2. The fibrinogenolytic activity of B. isabelae venom at a ratio of 100:1 (fibrinogen/venom) induced a degradation of A alpha and B beta chains at 15 min and 2 h, respectively. At a ratio of 100:10, a total degradation of A alpha and B beta chains at 5 min and of gamma chains at 24 h was apparent. This current study evidences one of rarely reported for Bothrops venoms, which resembles the physiologic effect of plasmin. B. isabelae venom as well as F2 and F3 fractions, contain fibrinolytic activity on fibrin plate of 36, 23.5 and 9.45 mm(2)/microg, respectively using 25 microg of protein. Crude venom and F1 fraction showed gelatinolytic activity. Comparative analysis amongst Venezuelan bothropoid venoms, evidenced that the LD(50) of B. isabelae (5.9 mg/kg) was similar to B. atrox-Puerto Ayacucho 1 (6.1 mg/kg) and B. colombiensis-Caucagua (5.8 mg/kg). B. isabelae venom showed minor hemorrhagic activity, whereas B. atrox-Parguasa (Bolivar state) was the most hemorrhagic. In this study, a relative high thrombin-like activity was observed in B. colombiensis venoms (502-568 mUA/min/mg), and a relative high factor Xa-like activity was found in B. atrox venoms (126-294 mUA/min/mg). Fibrinolytic activity evaluated with 10 microg protein, showed that B. isabelae venom contained higher

  4. 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

  5. Neutralization of Bothrops alternatus regional venom pools and individual venoms by antivenom: a systematic comparison.

    PubMed

    de Roodt, Adolfo Rafael; Lanari, Laura Cecilia; de Oliveira, Vanessa Costa; Laskowicz, Rodrigo Daniel; Stock, Roberto Pablo

    2011-06-01

    In this study we report that variation in lethality, hemorrhagic potency and procoagulation between individual samples of Bothrops alternatus venom from a single region, and variation between regional pools at the national level are comparable in range. Furthermore, the range of relative neutralization potencies of individual venoms within a region overlaps, and sometimes exceeds, the range of neutralization of regional venom pools throughout the country. Thus, the potency of neutralization of a national venom pool is poorly predictive of the potencies of neutralization of its constituent regional venom pools and, furthermore, the potency of neutralization of a regional venom pool is poorly predictive of the potencies of neutralization of its individual venom constituents. The efficiencies of neutralization of each of these effects (lethality, hemorrhage and procoagulation) were not significantly related to each other and did not correlate to the corresponding toxic potency of each venom or venom pool. Some implications of these findings are discussed in the context of the distinction between experimental quantitation of antivenom potency and the amount of antivenom that might be actually required to successfully treat two apparently comparable B. alternatus envenomations.

  6. 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..., all other species of live reptiles or their eggs may be imported, transported, and possessed...

  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... of live reptiles or their eggs may be imported, transported, and possessed in captivity, without...

  8. 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..., all other species of live reptiles or their eggs may be imported, transported, and possessed...

  9. 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..., all other species of live reptiles or their eggs may be imported, transported, and possessed...

  10. 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

  11. 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

    2016-06-16

    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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. [Venomous and poisonous animals--I. Overview].

    PubMed

    Chippaux, J P; Goyffon, M

    2006-06-01

    Venomous animals that are able to innoculate or inject venom and poisonous animals that cannot inject venom but are toxic when ingested belong to all zoological groups. They can be encountered worldwide in any ecosystem on land and at sea but they are more common and more dangerous in tropical areas. This first article of a series to appear in the next issues of Medecine Tropicale presents an overview of species involved in envenomations and poisonings. In addition to a brief reviewing geographic risks and circumstances in which bites, stings or ingestion occur, some information is provided about antivenim therapy, the only etiological treatment.

  15. The birdlike raptor Sinornithosaurus was venomous.

    PubMed

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

    2010-01-12

    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.

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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.

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

    PubMed

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

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

    PubMed

    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

  6. Inhibition of hemorragic snake venom components: old and new approaches.

    PubMed

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

    2010-04-01

    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.

  7. 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)

  8. 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…

  9. Are reptiles predisposed to temperature-dependent sex determination?

    PubMed

    Georges, A; Ezaz, T; Quinn, A E; Sarre, S D

    2010-01-01

    Vertebrates show an astonishing array of sex determining mechanisms, including male and female heterogamety, multiple sex chromosome systems, environmental sex determination, parthenogenesis and hermaphroditism. Sex determination in mammals and birds is extraordinarily conservative compared to that of reptiles, amphibians and fish. In this paper, we explore possible explanations for the diversity of sex determining modes in reptiles, and in particular, address the prevalence of reptilian temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) and its almost haphazard distribution across the reptile phylogeny. We suggest that reptiles are predisposed to evolving TSD from genotypic sex determination (GSD) by virtue of the uniquely variable thermal environment experienced by their embryos during the critical period in which sex is determined. Explicit mechanisms for canalization of sexual phenotype in the face of high thermal variation during development provide a context for thermolability in sex determination at extremes and the raw material for natural selection to move this thermolability into the developmental mainstream when there is a selective advantage to do so. Release of cryptic variation when canalization is challenged and fails at extremes may accelerate evolutionary transitions between GSD and TSD.

  10. Multiple factors in the reptile extinctions of the Cretaceous period.

    PubMed

    Cloudsley-Thompson, J

    2001-08-01

    The selective extinction of the dinosaurs and other giant reptiles has long been a topic of speculation and controversy. Everyone is familiar with the theory of the giant bollide colliding with Earth. But, would it not be more likely that that multiple factors acted over a relatively long period of time to produce this mass extinction?

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. A novel bioactive peptide from wasp venom

    PubMed Central

    Chen, Lingling; Chen, Wenlin; Yang, Hailong; Lai, Ren

    2010-01-01

    Wasp venoms contain a number of pharmacologically active biomolecules, undertaking a wide range of functions necessary for the wasp's survival. We purified and characterized a novel bioactive peptide (vespin) from the venoms of Vespa magnifica (Smith) wasps with unique primary structure. Its amino acid sequence was determined to be CYQRRVAITAGGLKHRLMSSLIIIIIIRINYLRDNSVIILESSY. It has 44 residues including 15 leucines or isoleucines (32%) in the sequence. Vespin showed contractile activity on isolated ileum smooth muscle. The cDNA encoding vespin precursor was cloned from the cDNA library of the venomous glands. The precursor consists of 67 amino acid residues including the predicted signal peptide and mature vespin. A di-basic enzymatic processing site (-KR-) is located between the signal peptide and the mature peptide. Vespin did not show similarity with any known proteins or peptides by BLAST search, suggesting it is a novel bioactive peptide from wasp venoms. PMID:21544181

  16. Mitigating reptile road mortality: fence failures compromise ecopassage effectiveness.

    PubMed

    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

  17. 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

  18. Mitigating reptile road mortality: fence failures compromise ecopassage effectiveness.

    PubMed

    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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Ecological risk of anthropogenic pollutants to reptiles: Evaluating assumptions of sensitivity and exposure.

    PubMed

    Weir, Scott M; Suski, Jamie G; Salice, Christopher J

    2010-12-01

    A large data gap for reptile ecotoxicology still persists; therefore, ecological risk assessments of reptiles usually incorporate the use of surrogate species. This necessitates that (1) the surrogate is at least as sensitive as the target taxon and/or (2) exposures to the surrogate are greater than that of the target taxon. We evaluated these assumptions for the use of birds as surrogates for reptiles. Based on a survey of the literature, birds were more sensitive than reptiles in less than 1/4 of the chemicals investigated. Dietary and dermal exposure modeling indicated that exposure to reptiles was relatively high, particularly when the dermal route was considered. We conclude that caution is warranted in the use of avian receptors as surrogates for reptiles in ecological risk assessment and emphasize the need to better understand the magnitude and mechanism of contaminant exposure in reptiles to improve exposure and risk estimation.

  4. Northward shifts of the distributions of Spanish reptiles in association with climate change.

    PubMed

    Moreno-Rueda, Gregorio; Pleguezuelos, Juan M; Pizarro, Manuel; Montori, Albert

    2012-04-01

    It is predicted that climate change will drive extinctions of some reptiles and that the number of these extinctions will depend on whether reptiles are able to change their distribution. Whether the latitudinal distribution of reptiles may change in response to increases in temperature is unknown. We used data on reptile distributions collected during the 20th century to analyze whether changes in the distributions of reptiles in Spain are associated with increases in temperature. We controlled for biases in sampling effort and found a mean, statistically significant, northward shift of the northern extent of reptile distributions of about 15.2 km from 1940-1975 to 1991-2005. The southern extent of the distributions did not change significantly. Thus, our results suggest that the latitudinal distributions of reptiles may be changing in response to climate change.

  5. On the venom system of centipedes (Chilopoda), a neglected group of venomous animals.

    PubMed

    Undheim, Eivind A B; King, Glenn F

    2011-03-15

    Centipedes are among the oldest extant terrestrial arthropods and are an ecologically important group of soil and leaf litter predators. Despite their abundance and frequent, often painful, encounters with humans, little is known about the venom and venom apparatus of centipedes, although it is apparent that these are both quite different from other venomous lineages. The venom gland can be regarded as an invaginated cuticle and epidermis, consisting of numerous epithelial secretory units each with its own unique valve-like excretory system. The venom contains several different enzymes, but is strikingly different to most other arthropods in that metalloproteases appear to be important. Myotoxic, cardiotoxic, and neurotoxic activities have been described, most of which have been attributed to high molecular weight proteins. Neurotoxic activities are also unusual in that G-protein coupled receptors often seem to be involved, either directly as targets of neurotoxins or indirectly by activating endogenous agonists. These relatively slow responses may be complemented by the rapid effects caused by histamines present in the venom and from endogenous release of histamines induced by venom cytotoxins. The differences probably reflect the ancient and independent evolutionary history of the centipede venom system, although they may also be somewhat exaggerated by the paucity of information available on this largely neglected group.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Contrasted Evolution of the Vomeronasal Receptor Repertoires in Mammals and Squamate Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    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

  9. A multifaceted analysis of viperid snake venoms by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis: an approach to understanding venom proteomics.

    PubMed

    Serrano, Solange M T; Shannon, John D; Wang, Deyu; Camargo, Antonio C M; Fox, Jay W

    2005-02-01

    The complexity of Viperid venoms has long been appreciated by investigators in the fields of toxinology and medicine. However, it is only recently that the depth of that complexity has become somewhat quantitatively and qualitatively appreciated. With the resurgence of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and the advances in mass spectrometry virtually all venom components can be visualized and identified given sufficient effort and resources. Here we present the use of 2-DE for examining venom complexity as well as demonstrating interesting approaches to selectively delineate subpopulations of venom proteins based on particular characteristics of the proteins such as antibody cross-reactivity or enzymatic activities. 2-DE comparisons between venoms from different species of the same genus (Bothrops) of snake clearly demonstrated both the similarity as well as the apparent diversity among these venoms. Using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry we were able to identify regions of the two-dimensional gels from each venom in which certain classes of proteins were found. 2-DE was also used to compare venoms from Crotalus atrox and Bothrops jararaca. For these venoms a variety of staining/detection protocols was utilized to compare and contrast the venoms. Specifically, we used various stains to visualize subpopulations of the venom proteomes of these snakes, including Coomassie, Silver, Sypro Ruby and Pro-Q-Emerald. Using specific antibodies in Western blot analyses of 2-DE of the venoms we have examined subpopulations of proteins in these venoms including the serine proteinase proteome, the metalloproteinase proteome, and the phospholipases A2 proteome. A functional assessment of the gelatinolytic activity of these venoms was also performed by zymography. These approaches have given rise to a more thorough understanding of venom complexity and the toxins comprising these venoms and provide insights to investigators who wish to focus on these venom

  10. Anti-venom potential of butanolic extract of Eclipta prostrata against Malayan pit viper venom.

    PubMed

    Pithayanukul, Pimolpan; Laovachirasuwan, Sasitorn; Bavovada, Rapepol; Pakmanee, Narumol; Suttisri, Rutt

    2004-02-01

    The butanolic and purified butanolic extracts (PBEs) of Eclipta prostrata were evaluated for their anti-venom potential. Inhibition of lethal, hemorrhagic, proteolytic, and phospholipase A2 activities of Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan pit viper (MPV)) venom by these extracts were determined. Demethylwedelolactone was identified as their major constituent. The butanolic extract, at 2.5 mg per mouse, was able to completely neutralize the lethal activity of 2LD50 of MPV venom, but increasing the dose diminished the effect. The PBE, at 1.5-4.5 mg per mouse, was able to neutralize the lethality of the venom at around 50-58%. Both extracts partially inhibited the hemorrhagic activity but displayed very low anti-phospholipase A2 activity and did not inhibit proteolytic activity of MPV venom.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Purification and Functional Characterisation of Rhiminopeptidase A, a Novel Aminopeptidase from the Venom of Bitis gabonica rhinoceros

    PubMed Central

    Vaiyapuri, Sakthivel; Wagstaff, Simon C.; Watson, Kimberley A.; Harrison, Robert A.; Gibbins, Jonathan M.; Hutchinson, E. Gail

    2010-01-01

    activity (APA). Together with the functional data, mass spectrometry analysis of the purified protein confirmed this as an aminopeptidase A and thus this has been named as rhiminopeptidase A. The complete gene sequence of rhiminopeptidase A was obtained by sequencing the PCR amplified aminopeptidase A gene from the venom gland cDNA of B. g. rhinoceros. The gene codes for a predicted protein of 955 amino acids (110 kDa), which contains the key amino acids necessary for functioning as an aminopeptidase A. A structural model of rhiminopeptidase A shows the structure to consist of 4 domains: an N-terminal saddle-shaped β domain, a mixed α and β catalytic domain, a β-sandwich domain and a C-terminal α helical domain. Conclusions This study describes the discovery and characterisation of a novel aminopeptidase A from the venom of B. g. rhinoceros and highlights its potential biological importance. Similar to mammalian aminopeptidases, rhiminopeptidase A might be capable of playing roles in altering the blood pressure and brain function of victims. Furthermore, it could have additional effects on the biological functions of other host proteins by cleaving their N-terminal amino acids. This study points towards the importance of complete analysis of individual components of snake venom in order to develop effective therapies for snake bites. PMID:20706583

  14. 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

  15. Combinations of long peptide sequence blocks can be used to describe toxin diversification in venomous animals.

    PubMed

    Starcevic, Antonio; Moura-da-Silva, Ana M; Cullum, John; Hranueli, Daslav; Long, Paul F

    2015-03-01

    An important mechanism for the evolution of toxins in venomous animals is believed to be the acquisition of genes encoding proteins that switch from physiological to toxic roles following gene duplication. The 'reverse recruitment' hypothesis pertains that these genes can also revert back to physiological functions, although such events are thought to be rare. A non-supervised homology searching method was developed which allowed the peptide diversity of animal toxins to be described as combinations between limited numbers of amino-acid sequence blocks we called 'tox-bits'. Taking the phospholipase A2 (PLA2) protein family as an example, a Bernoulli Trial was used to test if 'tox-bits' were robust enough to distinguish between peptides with physiological or toxin functions. The analysis revealed that discrimination was indeed possible, and supports the very recent 'restriction' hypothesis whereby genes with the potential to encode toxic functions have likely been independently recruited into venom systems and therefore require few, if any, reverse recruitment events. The development of 'tox-bits' provides a novel bioinformatics tool to allow recognition of toxins from other proteins in genome sequences, facilitating the study of gene recruitment and duplication strategies in venom diversification. The 'tox-bits' library is freely available at http://bioserv.pbf.hr/blocks.zip.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Evolution of viviparous reproduction in Paleozoic and Mesozoic reptiles.

    PubMed

    Blackburn, Daniel G; Sidor, Christian A

    2014-01-01

    Although viviparity (live-bearing reproduction) is widely distributed among lizards and snakes, it is entirely absent from other extant Reptilia and many extinct forms. However, paleontological evidence reveals that viviparity was present in at least nine nominal groups of pre-Cenozoic reptiles, representing a minimum of six separate evolutionary origins of this reproductive mode. Two viviparous clades (sauropterygians and ichthyopterygians) lasted more than 155 million years, a figure that rivals the duration of mammalian viviparity. Circumstantial evidence indicates that extinct viviparous reptiles had internal fertilization, amniotic fetal membranes, and placentas that sustained developing embryos via provision of respiratory gases, water, calcium, and possibly organic nutrients. Production of offspring via viviparity facilitated the invasion of marine habitats in at least five reptilian lineages. Thus, this pattern of embryonic development and reproduction was central to the ecology and evolution of these ancient animals, much as it is to numerous extant species of vertebrates.

  19. On the helminth fauna of some Iraqi reptiles.

    PubMed

    Al-Barwari, Shlemon E; Saeed, Isam

    2007-01-01

    A study on the parasitofauna of 7 species of Iraqi reptiles revealed the presence of at least 8 adult helminth species and some tentatively identified larvae. The reptiles were Hemidactylus flaviviridis, H. persicus, Asaccus elisae, Spalerosophis d. cliffordi, Testudo g. terrestris, Mauremys c. caspica and Trionyx euphraticus. The helminths found comprised 1 species of digenetic trematodes (Telorchis stunkardi), cysticercoids of Diplopylidium nolleri and 7 nematode species (Thelandros sp., Microtetrameres sp., Angusticaecum holopterum, Atractis dactyluris, Tachygonetria nicolleri, Camallanus microcephalus, and Falcaustra japonensis). Information about the locality of collection, infection site and rate and parasite burden is provided. Although similar cysticercoid larvae and adults of Thelandros sp. and Microtetrameres sp. were previously recorded from Iraq, the scope of the relevant data is considerably extended. In the researchers' judgment, the rest of the parasite species represents a new addition to the Iraq list.

  20. Investigating kleptothermy: a reptile-seabird association with thermal benefits.

    PubMed

    Corkery, Ilse; Bell, Ben D; Nelson, Nicola J

    2014-01-01

    Studies on interspecific interactions between vertebrates based on thermal benefits are poorly represented in the literature. Ecologists know little about a category of thermoregulation termed kleptothermy. We provide evidence that a close association between a medium-sized reptile (tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus) and a small seabird (fairy prion, Pachyptila turtur) enables the reptile to maintain higher-than-average body temperatures. This is the first multiyear data set to reveal that the presence of an endotherm within a burrow has direct, transferable thermal benefits to an ectotherm. It is possible that such positive interspecific interactions may alleviate thermal stress across the range of a single species. Currently, we know little about the evolutionary consequences of such interactions, and future work should focus on whether these thermal benefits increase fitness through increased growth rates or reproductive output.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Immunoreactivity between venoms and commercial antiserums in four Chinese snakes and venom identification by species-specific antibody.

    PubMed

    Gao, Jian-Fang; Wang, Jin; Qu, Yan-Fu; Ma, Xiao-Mei; Ji, Xiang

    2013-01-31

    We studied the immunoreactivity between venoms and commercial antiserums in four Chinese venomous snakes, Bungarus multicinctus, Naja atra, Deinagkistrodon acutus and Gloydius brevicaudus. Venoms from the four snakes shared common antigenic components, and most venom components expressed antigenicity in the immunological reaction between venoms and antiserums. Antiserums cross-reacted with heterologous venoms. Homologous venom and antiserum expressed the highest reaction activity in all cross-reactions. Species-specific antibodies (SSAbs) were obtained from four antiserums by immunoaffinity chromatography: the whole antiserum against each species was gradually passed through a medium system coated with heterologous venoms, and the cross-reacting components in antiserum were immunoabsorbed by the common antigens in heterologous venoms; the unbound components (i.e., SSAbs) were collected, and passed through Hitrap G protein column and concentrated. The SSAbs were found to have high specificity by western blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). A 6-well ELISA strip coated with SSAbs was used to assign a venom sample and blood and urine samples from the envenomed rats to a given snake species. Our detections could differentiate positive and negative samples, and identify venoms of a snake species in about 35 min. The ELISA strips developed in this study are clinically useful in rapid and reliable identification of venoms from the above four snake species.

  4. The fungal pathogen Moniliophthora perniciosa has genes similar to plant PR-1 that are highly expressed during its interaction with cacao.

    PubMed

    Teixeira, Paulo J P L; Thomazella, Daniela P T; 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.

  5. Heterospecific alarm call recognition in a non-vocal reptile.

    PubMed

    Vitousek, Maren N; Adelman, James S; Gregory, Nathan C; Clair, James J H St

    2007-12-22

    The ability to recognize and respond to the alarm calls of heterospecifics has previously been described only in species with vocal communication. Here we provide evidence that a non-vocal reptile, the Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), can eavesdrop on the alarm call of the Galápagos mockingbird (Nesomimus parvulus) and respond with anti-predator behaviour. Eavesdropping on complex heterospecific communications demonstrates a remarkable degree of auditory discrimination in a non-vocal species.

  6. 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.

  7. Molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium isolates from pet reptiles.

    PubMed

    Pedraza-Díaz, Susana; Ortega-Mora, Luis M; Carrión, Beatriz A; Navarro, Vanesa; Gómez-Bautista, Mercedes

    2009-03-23

    In this study, we investigated the presence of Cryptosporidium in 171 faecal samples from reptiles commonly used as pet animals. These include lizards belonging to the genera Eublepharis, Pogona, Chlamydosaurus, Hemiteconyx, Teratoscincus, Tiliqua, Iguana, and Chamaeleo, snakes of the genera Lampropeltis, Elaphe, Python, Boa and Corallus, and tortoises belonging to the genera Testudo and Kinixys. Cryptosporidium oocysts were detected by immunofluorescence using a commercially available kit and cryptosporidial DNA by amplification of a polymorphic fragment of the 18S rDNA and the HSP70 locus. Cryptosporidium was detected in 38.6% and 25.1% of the samples analysed by immunofluorescence and PCR, respectively. Molecular characterisation of the isolates confirmed that C. serpentis and C. varanii (syn. C. saurophilum) are the main species involved in infection in pet reptiles but also showed the presence of C. parvum and C. muris, as well as other species or genotypes of this parasite including the Cryptosporidium mouse genotype and Cryptosporidium tortoise genotype previously described in reptiles. In addition, a Cryptosporidium sp. was isolated from a chameleon and a python.

  8. 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.

  9. Snake venoms in science and clinical medicine. 2. Applied immunology in snake venom research.

    PubMed

    Theakston, R D

    1989-01-01

    Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a very important tool for studying both the epidemiology and clinical effects of snake bite in man. For epidemiology ELISA depends on the development and persistence of specific humoral venom antibody in previous snake bite victims. In the Nigerian savanna 63% of previous bite victims possessed specific venom antibodies against Echis carinatus venom; in Ecuador, where there is a 5% annual mortality due to snake bite in a population of Waorani Indians, venom antibodies against a wide range of different venoms were identified in previous bite victims using ELISA. In certain areas it is often not possible, using the symptoms of envenoming, to determine which species of snake has bitten the patient. Field studies using ELISA in Nigeria and Thailand have been successful in establishing the species responsible for envenoming. Current studies are in progress on the development of a rapid immunoassay which should be capable of detecting the biting species within 5-10 min of sampling from the admission patient. This will be useful for the clinician as it will enable the rapid detection of the species responsible for envenoming and, therefore, the use of the correct antivenom. Experimental work on the development of new methods of antivenom production includes immunization of experimental animals with venom/liposome preparations, the preparation of venom antigens using monoclonal antibodies on affinity columns, and recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid technology. Liposomal immunization requires only a single injection of venom to obtain a rapid, high level and protective immune response. Venom liposomes may also be given orally resulting in a serum immunoglobulin G immune response in experimental animals. Use of such a system may eventually result in immunization of man in areas of high snake bite incidence and mortality. PMID:2617643

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Venom phospholipases A2 of bamboo viper (Trimeresurus stejnegeri): molecular characterization, geographic variations and evidence of multiple ancestries.

    PubMed Central

    Tsai, Inn-Ho; Wang, Ying-Ming; Chen, Yi-Hsuan; Tsai, Tein-Shun; Tu, Ming-Chung

    2004-01-01

    Phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) were purified from the Trimeresurus stejnegeri venom obtained from various localities in Taiwan and three provinces in China, by gel filtration followed by reversed-phase HPLC. The precise molecular mass and N-terminal sequence of each PLA2 were determined. In addition to the six previously documented PLA2 isoforms of this species, we identified ten novel isoforms. The venom gland cDNAs of individual specimens of the viper from four localities were used for PCR and subsequent cloning of the PLA2s. The molecular masses and partial sequences of most of the purified PLA2s matched with those deduced from a total of 13 distinct cDNA sequences of these clones. Besides the commonly known Asp49 or Lys-49 PLA2s of crotalid venoms, a novel type of PLA2 with Asn-49 substitution at the Ca2+-binding site was discovered. This type of PLA2 is non-catalytic, but may cause local oedema and appears to be a venom marker of many tree vipers. In particular, we showed that T. stejnegeri displayed high geographic variations of the PLA2s within and between their Taiwanese and Chinese populations, which can be explained by geological isolation and prey ecology. A phylogenetic tree of the acidic venom PLA2s of this species and other related Asian vipers reveals that T. stejnegeri contains venom genes related to those from several sympatric pit vipers, including the genera Tropedolaemus and Gloydius besides the Trimeresurus itself. Taken together, these findings may explain the exceptionally high variations in the venom as well as the evolutionary advantage of this species. PMID:12959640

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. Pharmacological effects of various venoms on cutaneous capillary leakage.

    PubMed

    Burnett, J W; Calton, G J

    1986-01-01

    Studies to counteract the cutaneous vasopermeability actions of a wasp (Vespa orientalis), an anemone (Bolocera tuediae) and three jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri, Chrysaora quinquecirrha and Physalia physalis) venoms were conducted by using various pharmacological antagonists. Piripost (a leukotriene inhibitor) reduced vasopermeability if administered 5 min prior to challenge with the jellyfish venoms. Methysergide counteracted the vasopermeability of three of four coelenterate venoms, whereas indomethacin was effective against capillary leakage induced by Chironex venom. These studies indicate that anti-dermonecrotic therapy against various venoms will have to be species-specific. PMID:2875548

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. Evolutionary rates of mitochondrial genomes correspond to diversification rates and to contemporary species richness in birds and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Eo, Soo Hyung; DeWoody, J Andrew

    2010-12-01

    Rates of biological diversification should ultimately correspond to rates of genome evolution. Recent studies have compared diversification rates with phylogenetic branch lengths, but incomplete phylogenies hamper such analyses for many taxa. Herein, we use pairwise comparisons of confamilial sauropsid (bird and reptile) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome sequences to estimate substitution rates. These molecular evolutionary rates are considered in light of the age and species richness of each taxonomic family, using a random-walk speciation-extinction process to estimate rates of diversification. We find the molecular clock ticks at disparate rates in different families and at different genes. For example, evolutionary rates are relatively fast in snakes and lizards, intermediate in crocodilians and slow in turtles and birds. There was also rate variation across genes, where non-synonymous substitution rates were fastest at ATP8 and slowest at CO3. Family-by-gene interactions were significant, indicating that local clocks vary substantially among sauropsids. Most importantly, we find evidence that mitochondrial genome evolutionary rates are positively correlated with speciation rates and with contemporary species richness. Nuclear sequences are poorly represented among reptiles, but the correlation between rates of molecular evolution and species diversification also extends to 18 avian nuclear genes we tested. Thus, the nuclear data buttress our mtDNA findings.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-11-17

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2004-10-01

    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 (5797 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 Bipes 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 the block cob, trnT, trnP, as they are in birds.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

    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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. A zoological catalogue of hunted reptiles in the semiarid region of Brazil.

    PubMed

    Nóbrega Alves, Rômulo Romeu; Pereira Filho, Gentil Alves; Silva Vieira, Kleber; Silva Souto, Wedson Medeiros; Mendonça, Lívia Emanuelle Tavares; Montenegro, Paulofernandoguedespereira; Almeida, Waltécio de Oliveira; Silva Vieira, Washington Luiz

    2012-07-30

    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.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. Functional evolution of scorpion venom peptides with an inhibitor cystine knot fold.

    PubMed

    Gao, Bin; Harvey, Peta J; Craik, David J; Ronjat, Michel; De Waard, Michel; Zhu, Shunyi

    2013-06-27

    The ICK (inhibitor cystine knot) defines a large superfamily of polypeptides with high structural stability and functional diversity. Here, we describe a new scorpion venom-derived K+ channel toxin (named λ-MeuKTx-1) with an ICK fold through gene cloning, chemical synthesis, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Ca2+ release measurements and electrophysiological recordings. λ-MeuKTx-1 was found to adopt an ICK fold that contains a three-strand anti-parallel β-sheet and a 310-helix. Functionally, this peptide selectively inhibits the Drosophila Shaker K+ channel but is not capable of activating skeletal-type Ca2+ release channels/ryanodine receptors, which is remarkably different from the previously known scorpion venom ICK peptides. The removal of two C-terminal residues of λ-MeuKTx-1 led to the loss of the inhibitory activity on the channel, whereas the C-terminal amidation resulted in the emergence of activity on four mammalian K+ channels accompanied by the loss of activity on the Shaker channel. A combination of structural and pharmacological data allows the recognition of three putative functional sites involved in channel blockade of λ-MeuKTx-1. The presence of a functional dyad in λ-MeuKTx-1 supports functional convergence among scorpion venom peptides with different folds. Furthermore, similarities in precursor organization, exon-intron structure, 3D-fold and function suggest that scorpion venom ICK-type K+ channel inhibitors and Ca2+ release channel activators share a common ancestor and their divergence occurs after speciation between buthidae and non-buthids. The structural and functional characterizations of the first scorpion venom ICK toxin with K+ channel-blocking activity sheds light on functionally divergent and convergent evolution of this conserved scaffold of ancient origin.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  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. Transcriptome analysis of the Amazonian viper Bothrops atrox venom gland using expressed sequence tags (ESTs).

    PubMed

    Neiva, Márcia; Arraes, Fabricio B M; de Souza, Jonso Vieira; Rádis-Baptista, Gandhi; Prieto da Silva, Alvaro R B; Walter, Maria Emilia M T; Brigido, Marcelo de Macedo; Yamane, Tetsuo; López-Lozano, Jorge Luiz; Astolfi-Filho, Spartaco

    2009-03-15

    Bothrops atrox is a highly dangerous pit viper in the Brazilian Amazon region. We produced a global catalogue of gene transcripts to identify the main toxin and other protein families present in the B. atrox venom gland. We prepared a directional cDNA library, from which a set of 610 high quality expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were generated by bioinformatics processing. Our data indicated a predominance of transcripts encoding mainly metalloproteinases (59% of the toxins). The expression pattern of the B. atrox venom was similar to Bothrops insularis, Bothrops jararaca and Bothrops jararacussu in terms of toxin type, although some differences were observed. B. atrox showed a higher amount of the PIII class of metalloproteinases which correlates well with the observed intense hemorrhagic action of its toxin. Also, the PLA2 content was the second highest in this sample compared to the other three Bothrops transcriptomes. To our knowledge, this work is the first transcriptome analysis of an Amazonian rain forest pit viper and it will contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the gene diversity of the venom gland of members of the Bothrops genus. Moreover, our results can be used for future studies with other snake species from the Amazon region to investigate differences in gene patterns or phylogenetic relationships. PMID:19708221

  8. Centipede venom: recent discoveries and current state of knowledge.

    PubMed

    Undheim, Eivind A B; Fry, Bryan G; King, Glenn F

    2015-02-25

    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.

  9. 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

  10. 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

  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. Effects of atrazine in fish, amphibians, and reptiles: an analysis based on quantitative weight of evidence.

    PubMed

    Van Der Kraak, Glen J; Hosmer, Alan J; Hanson, Mark L; Kloas, Werner; Solomon, Keith R

    2014-12-01

    A quantitative weight of evidence (WoE) approach was developed to evaluate studies used for regulatory purposes, as well as those in the open literature, that report the effects of the herbicide atrazine on fish, amphibians, and reptiles. The methodology for WoE analysis incorporated a detailed assessment of the relevance of the responses observed to apical endpoints directly related to survival, growth, development, and reproduction, as well as the strength and appropriateness of the experimental methods employed. Numerical scores were assigned for strength and relevance. The means of the scores for relevance and strength were then used to summarize and weigh the evidence for atrazine contributing to ecologically significant responses in the organisms of interest. The summary was presented graphically in a two-dimensional graph which showed the distributions of all the reports for a response. Over 1290 individual responses from studies in 31 species of fish, 32 amphibians, and 8 reptiles were evaluated. Overall, the WoE showed that atrazine might affect biomarker-type responses, such as expression of genes and/or associated proteins, concentrations of hormones, and biochemical processes (e.g. induction of detoxification responses), at concentrations sometimes found in the environment. However, these effects were not translated to adverse outcomes in terms of apical endpoints. The WoE approach provided a quantitative, transparent, reproducible, and robust framework that can be used to assist the decision-making process when assessing environmental chemicals. In addition, the process allowed easy identification of uncertainty and inconsistency in observations, and thus clearly identified areas where future investigations can be best directed.

  13. Mycobacterium marinum infection following contact with reptiles: vivarium granuloma.

    PubMed

    Bouricha, Mehdi; Castan, Bernard; Duchene-Parisi, Elisabeth; Drancourt, Michel

    2014-04-01

    A 19-year-old man presented with a 1.5-cm nodule on the first dorsal metacarpal ray. The patient denied having contact with fish tanks or fish, but recalled handling many reptiles without gloves in the vivarium where he worked. A culture of a skin biopsy specimen yielded Mycobacterium marinum. The clinical outcome was favourable after a 2-week course of intramuscular gentamicin (180 mg daily) combined with a 6-week course of oral clarithromycin (500 mg twice a day). Doctors should be aware that vivariums, in addition to fish tanks, can be sources of M. marinum exposure. PMID:24530276

  14. 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.

  15. Mycobacterium marinum infection following contact with reptiles: vivarium granuloma.

    PubMed

    Bouricha, Mehdi; Castan, Bernard; Duchene-Parisi, Elisabeth; Drancourt, Michel

    2014-04-01

    A 19-year-old man presented with a 1.5-cm nodule on the first dorsal metacarpal ray. The patient denied having contact with fish tanks or fish, but recalled handling many reptiles without gloves in the vivarium where he worked. A culture of a skin biopsy specimen yielded Mycobacterium marinum. The clinical outcome was favourable after a 2-week course of intramuscular gentamicin (180 mg daily) combined with a 6-week course of oral clarithromycin (500 mg twice a day). Doctors should be aware that vivariums, in addition to fish tanks, can be sources of M. marinum exposure.

  16. 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

  17. Involvement of spinal neurokinins, excitatory amino acids, proinflammatory cytokines, nitric oxide and prostanoids in pain facilitation induced by Phoneutria nigriventer spider venom.

    PubMed

    Zanchet, Eliane Maria; Longo, Ingrid; Cury, Yara

    2004-09-17

    The major local symptom of Phoneutria nigriventer envenomation is an intense pain, which can be controlled by infiltration with local anesthetics or by systemic treatment with opioid analgesics. Previous work showed that intraplantar (i.pl) injection of Phoneutria nigriventer venom in rats induces hyperalgesia, mediated peripherally by tachykinin and glutamate receptors. The present study examined the spinal mechanisms involved in pain-enhancing effect of this venom. Intraplantar injection of venom into rat hind paw induced hyperalgesia. This phenomenon was inhibited by intrathecal (i.t.) injection of tachykinin NK1 (GR 82334) or NK2 (GR 94800) receptor antagonists, a calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist (CGRP8-37) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA; MK 801 and AP-5), non-NMDA ionotropic (CNQX), or metabotropic (AIDA and MPEP) glutamate receptor antagonists, suggesting the involvement of spinal neurokinins and excitatory amino acids. The role of proinflammatory cytokines, nitric oxide (NO), and prostanoids in spinally mediated pain facilitation was also investigated. Pharmacological blockade of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) or interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) reduced the hyperalgesic response to venom. Intrathecal injection of L-N6-(1-iminoethyl)lysine (L-NIL), but not of 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), inhibited hyperalgesia induced by the venom, indicating that NO, generated by the activity of the inducible form of nitric oxide synthase, also mediates this phenomenon. Furthermore, indomethacin, an inhibitor of cyclooxigenases (COX), or celecoxib, a selective inhibitor of COX-2, abolished venom-induced hyperalgesia, suggesting the involvement of spinal prostanoids in this effect. These data indicate that the spinal mechanisms of pain facilitation induced by Phoneutria nigriventer venom involves a plethora of mediators that may cooperate in the genesis of venom-induced central sensitization.

  18. The mitochondrial genome of the venomous cone snail Conus consors.

    PubMed

    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.

  19. 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

  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. 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

  2. Snake venomics of the South and Central American Bushmasters. Comparison of the toxin composition of Lachesis muta gathered from proteomic versus transcriptomic analysis.

    PubMed

    Sanz, Libia; Escolano, José; Ferretti, Massimo; Biscoglio, Mirtha J; Rivera, Elena; Crescenti, Ernesto J; Angulo, Yamileth; Lomonte, Bruno; Gutiérrez, José María; Calvete, Juan J

    2008-04-30

    We report the proteomic characterization of the venoms of two closely related pit vipers of the genus Lachesis, L. muta (South American Bushmaster) and L. stenophrys (Central American Bushmaster), and compare the toxin repertoire of the former revealed through a proteomic versus a transcriptomic approach. The protein composition of the venoms of Lachesis muta and L. stenophrys were analyzed by RP-HPLC, N-terminal sequencing, MALDI-TOF peptide mass fingerprinting and CID-MS/MS. Around 30-40 proteins of molecular masses in the range of 13-110 kDa and belonging, respectively, to only 8 and 7 toxin families were identified in L. muta and L. stenophrys venoms. In addition, both venoms contained a large number of bradykinin-potentiating peptides (BPP) and a C-type natriuretic peptide (C-NP). BPPs and C-NP comprised around 15% of the total venom proteins. In both species, the most abundant proteins were Zn(2+)-metalloproteinases (32-38%) and serine proteinases (25-31%), followed by PLA(2)s (9-12%), galactose-specific C-type lectin (4-8%), l-amino acid oxidase (LAO, 3-5%), CRISP (1.8%; found in L. muta but not in L. stenophrys), and NGF (0.6%). On the other hand, only six L. muta venom-secreted proteins matched any of the previously reported 11 partial or full-length venom gland transcripts, and venom proteome and transcriptome depart in their relative abundances of different toxin families. As expected from their close phylogenetic relationship, the venoms of L. muta and L. stenophrys share (or contain highly similar) proteins, in particular BPPs, serine proteinases, a galactose-specific C-type lectin, and LAO. However, they dramatically depart in their respective PLA(2) complement. Intraspecific quantitative and qualitative differences in the expression of PLA(2) molecules were found when the venoms of five L. muta specimens (3 from Bolivia and 2 from Peru) and the venom of the same species purchased from Sigma were compared. These observations indicate that these class

  3. 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…

  4. Prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of salmonellae isolates from reptiles in Taiwan.

    PubMed

    Chen, Chun-Yu; Chen, Wan-Ching; Chin, Shih-Chien; Lai, Yen-Hsueh; Tung, Kwong-Chung; Chiou, Chien-Shun; Hsu, Yuan-Man; Chang, Chao-Chin

    2010-01-01

    Pets, including reptiles, have been shown to be a source of Salmonella infection in humans. Due to increasing popularity and variety of exotic reptiles as pets in recent years, more human clinical cases of reptile-associated Salmonella infection have been identified. However, limited information is available with regard to serotypes in different reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards) and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella in pet reptiles. The current study was thus conducted to determine the prevalence of Salmonella colonization in pet reptiles. Salmonella organisms were isolated from 30.9% of 476 reptiles investigated. The isolation prevalences were 69.7% (23/33), 62.8% (27/43), and 24.3% (97/400) in snakes, lizards, and turtles, respectively. A total of 44 different Salmonella serovars were identified. Compared with S. Heron, Bredeney, Treforest, and 4,[5],12:i:-, S. Typhimurium isolates were resistant to many antimicrobials tested, and notably 61.1% of the isolates were resistant to cephalothin. The results indicated that raising reptiles as pets could be a possible source of Salmonella infection in humans, particularly zoonotic Salmonella serovars such as S. Typhimurium that may be resistant to antimicrobials.

  5. Most lay people can correctly identify indigenous venomous snakes.

    PubMed

    Corbett, Stephen W; Anderson, Brian; Nelson, Brett; Bush, Sean; Hayes, William K; Cardwell, Mike D

    2005-10-01

    We attempted to determine how accurately members of the public can identify venomous snakes. Six different snakes indigenous to southern California were displayed in cages for 265 people to view at a street fair. These included 4 nonvenomous snakes and 2 venomous snakes. People were asked whether the snake was venomous and the name of the snake, if they knew it. Overall, people recognized whether a snake was venomous or nonvenomous 81% of the time. They were most accurate at identifying rattlesnakes as being venomous (95%) but incorrectly identified nonvenomous snakes as being venomous 25% of the time. Men were more accurate than women, and adults were more accurate than children. Subjects were less well able to identify the exact species of snakes. The results suggest that there may be no need to capture, kill, or bring a snake to the hospital for identification, at least in this geographic area.

  6. Response of a reptile guild to forest harvesting.

    PubMed

    Todd, Brian D; Andrews, Kimberly M

    2008-06-01

    Despite the growing concern over reptile population declines, the effects of modern industrial silviculture on reptiles have been understudied, particularly for diminutive and often overlooked species such as small-bodied snakes. We created 4 replicated forest-management landscapes to determine the response of small snakes to forest harvesting in the Coastal Plain of the southeastern United States. We divided the replicated landscapes into 4 treatments that represented a range of disturbed habitats: clearcut with coarse woody debris removed; clearcut with coarse woody debris retained; thinned pine stand; and control (unharvested second-growth planted pines). Canopy cover and ground litter were significantly reduced in clearcuts, intermediate in thinned forests, and highest in unharvested controls. Bare soil, maximum air temperatures, and understory vegetation all increased with increasing habitat disturbance. Concomitantly, we observed significantly reduced relative abundance of all 6 study species (scarletsnake[Cemophora coccinea], ring-neck snake[Diadophis punctatus], scarlet kingsnake[Lampropeltis triangulum], red-bellied snake[Storeria occipitomaculata], southeastern crowned snake[Tantilla coronata], and smooth earthsnake[Virginia valeriae]) in clearcuts compared with unharvested or thinned pine stands. In contrast, the greatest relative snake abundance occurred in thinned forest stands. Our results demonstrate that at least one form of forest harvesting is compatible with maintaining snake populations. Our results also highlight the importance of open-canopy structure and ground litter to small snakes in southeastern forests and the negative consequences of forest clearcutting for small snakes.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.