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Sample records for reptile venom genes

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

    PubMed

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

    2008-06-01

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

  2. Dynamic evolution of venom proteins in squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

    Casewell, Nicholas R; Huttley, Gavin A; Wüster, Wolfgang

    2012-01-01

    Phylogenetic analyses of toxin gene families have revolutionised our understanding of the origin and evolution of reptile venoms, leading to the current hypothesis that venom evolved once in squamate reptiles. However, because of a lack of homologous squamate non-toxin sequences, these conclusions rely on the implicit assumption that recruitments of protein families into venom are both rare and irreversible. Here we use sequences of homologous non-toxin proteins from two snake species to test these assumptions. Phylogenetic and ancestral-state analyses revealed frequent nesting of 'physiological' proteins within venom toxin clades, suggesting early ancestral recruitment into venom followed by reverse recruitment of toxins back to physiological roles. These results provide evidence that protein recruitment into venoms from physiological functions is not a one-way process, but dynamic, with reversal of function and/or co-expression of toxins in different tissues. This requires a major reassessment of our previous understanding of how animal venoms evolve.

  3. Evolution and diversification of the Toxicofera reptile venom system.

    PubMed

    Fry, Bryan G; Vidal, Nicolas; van der Weerd, Louise; Kochva, Elazar; Renjifo, Camila

    2009-03-06

    The diversification of the reptile venom system has been an area of major research but of great controversy. In this review we examine the historical and modern-day efforts of all aspects of the venom system including dentition, glands and secreted toxins and highlight areas of future research opportunities. We use multidisciplinary techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging of venom glands through to molecular phylogenetic reconstruction of toxin evolutionary history, to illustrate the diversity within this integrated weapons system and map the timing of toxin recruitment events over the toxicoferan organismal evolutionary tree.

  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. Restriction and recruitment-gene duplication and the origin and evolution of snake venom toxins.

    PubMed

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

    2014-08-01

    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.

  6. Unusual stability of messenger RNA in snake venom reveals gene expression dynamics of venom replenishment.

    PubMed

    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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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)

  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.

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

    PubMed Central

    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

    2012-01-01

    An impressive biodiversity (>10,000 species) of marine snails (suborder Toxoglossa or superfamily Conoidea) have complex venoms, containing ca. 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. PMID:22954218

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

    PubMed

    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

    2015-05-28

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. A limited role for gene duplications in the evolution of platypus venom.

    PubMed

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. The Evolutionary Fate of the Genes Encoding the Purine Catabolic Enzymes in Hominoids, Birds, and Reptiles

    PubMed Central

    Keebaugh, Alaine C.; Thomas, James W.

    2010-01-01

    Gene loss has been proposed to play a major role in adaptive evolution, and recent studies are beginning to reveal its importance in human evolution. However, the potential consequence of a single gene-loss event upon the fates of functionally interrelated genes is poorly understood. Here, we use the purine metabolic pathway as a model system in which to explore this important question. The loss of urate oxidase (UOX) activity, a necessary step in this pathway, has occurred independently in the hominoid and bird/reptile lineages. Because the loss of UOX would have removed the functional constraint upon downstream genes in this pathway, these downstream genes are generally assumed to have subsequently deteriorated. In this study, we used a comparative genomics approach to empirically determine the fate of UOX itself and the downstream genes in five hominoids, two birds, and a reptile. Although we found that the loss of UOX likely triggered the genetic deterioration of the immediate downstream genes in the hominoids, surprisingly in the birds and reptiles, the UOX locus itself and some of the downstream genes were present in the genome and predicted to encode proteins. To account for the variable pattern of gene retention and loss after the inactivation of UOX, we hypothesize that although gene loss is a common fate for genes that have been rendered obsolete due to the upstream loss of an enzyme a metabolic pathway, it is also possible that same lack of constraint will foster the evolution of new functions or allow the optimization of preexisting alternative functions in the downstream genes, thereby resulting in gene retention. Thus, adaptive single-gene losses have the potential to influence the long-term evolutionary fate of functionally interrelated genes. PMID:20106906

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. Phylogeny, genomic organization and expression of lambda and kappa immunoglobulin light chain genes in a reptile, Anolis carolinensis.

    PubMed

    Wu, Qian; Wei, Zhiguo; Yang, Zhi; Wang, Tao; Ren, Liming; Hu, Xiaoxiang; Meng, Qingyong; Guo, Ying; Zhu, Qinghong; Robert, Jacques; Hammarström, Lennart; Li, Ning; Zhao, Yaofeng

    2010-05-01

    The reptiles are the last major taxon of jawed vertebrates in which immunoglobulin light chain isotypes have not been well characterized. Using the recently released genome sequencing data, we show in this study that the reptile Anolis carolinensis expresses both lambda and kappa light chain genes. The genomic organization of both gene loci is structurally similar to their respective counterparts in mammals. The identified lambda locus contains three constant region genes each preceded by a joining gene segment, and a total of 37 variable gene segments. In contrast, the kappa locus contains only a single constant region gene, and two joining gene segments with a single family of 14 variable gene segments located upstream. Analysis of junctions of the recombined VJ transcripts reveals a paucity of N and P nucleotides in both expressed lambda and kappa sequences. These results help us to understand the generation of the immunoglobulin repertoire in reptiles and immunoglobulin evolution in vertebrates.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2010-12-01

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

  6. 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

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

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. Reptile Perinatology.

    PubMed

    Keller, Krista A

    2017-02-04

    Reptile perinatology refers to the time period surrounding hatching, for oviparous species, and immediately after birth, for viviparous species. Veterinarians working in myriad conservation and breeding programs require knowledge in this area. This article reviews anatomy and physiology of the amniotic egg, the basics of artificial incubation, when manual pipping is indicated, and basic medicine of the reptile hatchling or neonate.

  18. 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)

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

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

  1. 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

  2. Expression patterns of platypus defensin and related venom genes across a range of tissue types reveal the possibility of broader functions for OvDLPs than previously suspected.

    PubMed

    Whittington, Camilla M; Papenfuss, Anthony T; Kuchel, Philip W; Belov, Katherine

    2008-09-15

    The platypus, as an egg-laying mammal, displays an unusual mixture of reptilian and mammalian characteristics. It is also venomous, and further investigations into its little-studied venom may lead to the development of novel pharmaceuticals and drug targets and provide insights into the origins of mammalian venom. Here we investigate the expression patterns of antimicrobial genes called defensins, and also the venom peptides called defensin-like peptides (OvDLPs). We show, in the first expression study on any platypus venom gene, that the OvDLPs are expressed in a greater range of tissues than would be expected for genes with specific venom function, and thus that they may have a wider role than previously suspected.

  3. Understanding and utilising mammalian venom via a platypus venom transcriptome.

    PubMed

    Whittington, Camilla M; Koh, Jennifer M S; Warren, Wesley C; Papenfuss, Anthony T; Torres, Allan M; Kuchel, Philip W; Belov, Katherine

    2009-03-06

    Only five mammalian species are known to be venomous, and while a large amount of research has been carried out on reptile venom, mammalian venom has been poorly studied to date. Here we describe the status of current research into the venom of the platypus, a semi-aquatic egg-laying Australian mammal, and discuss our approach to platypus venom transcriptomics. We propose that such construction and analysis of mammalian venom transcriptomes from small samples of venom gland, in tandem with proteomics studies, will allow the identification of the full range of mammalian venom components. Functional studies and pharmacological evaluation of the identified toxins will then lay the foundations for the future development of novel biomedical substances. A large range of useful molecules have already been identified in snake venom, and many of these are currently in use in human medicine. It is therefore hoped that this basic research to identify the constituents of platypus venom will eventually yield novel drugs and new targets for painkillers.

  4. 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)

  5. 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.

  6. Monotreme glucagon-like peptide-1 in venom and gut: one gene – two very different functions

    PubMed Central

    Tsend-Ayush, Enkhjargal; He, Chuan; Myers, Mark A.; Andrikopoulos, Sof; Wong, Nicole; Sexton, Patrick M.; Wootten, Denise; Forbes, Briony E.; Grutzner, Frank

    2016-01-01

    The importance of Glucagon like peptide 1 (GLP-1) for metabolic control and insulin release sparked the evolution of genes mimicking GLP-1 action in venomous species (e.g. Exendin-4 in Heloderma suspectum (gila monster)). We discovered that platypus and echidna express a single GLP-1 peptide in both intestine and venom. Specific changes in GLP-1 of monotreme mammals result in resistance to DPP-4 cleavage which is also observed in the GLP-1 like Exendin-4 expressed in Heloderma venom. Remarkably we discovered that monotremes evolved an alternative mechanism to degrade GLP-1. We also show that monotreme GLP-1 stimulates insulin release in cultured rodent islets, but surprisingly shows low receptor affinity and bias toward Erk signaling. We propose that these changes in monotreme GLP-1 are the result of conflicting function of this peptide in metabolic control and venom. This evolutionary path is fundamentally different from the generally accepted idea that conflicting functions in a single gene favour duplication and diversification, as is the case for Exendin-4 in gila monster. This provides novel insight into the remarkably different metabolic control mechanism and venom function in monotremes and an unique example of how different selective pressures act upon a single gene in the absence of gene duplication. PMID:27898108

  7. Contryphan Genes and Mature Peptides in the Venom of Nine Cone Snail Species by Transcriptomic and Mass Spectrometric Analysis.

    PubMed

    Vijayasarathy, Marimuthu; Basheer, Soorej M; Franklin, Jayaseelan Benjamin; Balaram, Padmanabhan

    2017-02-03

    The occurrence of contryphans, a class of single-disulfide-bond-containing peptides, is demonstrated by the analysis of the venom of nine species of cone snails. Ten full gene sequences and two partial gene sequences coding for contryphan precursor proteins have been identified by next-generation sequencing and compared with available sequences. The occurrence of mature peptides in isolated venom has been demonstrated by LC-ESI-MS/MS analysis. De novo sequencing of reduced, alkylated contryphans from C. frigidus and C. araneosus provides evidence of sequence variation and post-translational modification, notably gamma carboxylation of glutamic acid. The characterization of Fr965 (C. frigidus) provides a rare example of a sequence lacking Pro at position 5 in the disulfide loop. The widespread occurrence of contryphan genes and mature peptides in the venom of diverse cone snails is suggestive of their potential biological significance.

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

    PubMed

    Hayden, Luke; Arthur, Wallace

    2013-01-01

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

  9. Purification, characterization and gene cloning of Da-36, a novel serine protease from Deinagkistrodon acutus venom.

    PubMed

    Zheng, Ying; Ye, Feng-Ping; Wang, Jie; Liao, Guo-Yang; Zhang, Yun; Fan, Quan-Shui; Lee, Wen-Hui

    2013-06-01

    A serine protease termed Da-36 was isolated from crude venom of Deinagkistrodon acutus. The enzyme was a single chain protein with an apparent molecular weight of 36,000 on SDS-PAGE with an isoelectric point of 6.59. Da-36 could clot human plasma by cleaving the Aα, Bβ and γ chains of fibrinogen and also exhibited arginine esterase activity. The proteolytic activity of Da-36 toward TAME was strongly inhibited by PMSF and moderately affected by benzamidine and aprotinin, indicating that it was a serine protease. Meanwhile, Da-36 showed stability with wide temperature (20-50 °C) and pH value ranges (pH 6-10). Divalent metal ions of Ca(2+), Mg(2+), and Mn(2+) had no effects but Zn(2+) and Cu(2+) inhibited the arginine esterase activity of Da-36. Total DNA was extracted directly from the lyophilized crude venom and the gene (5.5 kbp) coding for Da-36 had been successfully cloned. Sequence analysis revealed that the Da-36 gene contained five exons and four introns. The mature Da-36 was encoded by four separate exons. The deduced mature amino acid sequence of Da-36 was in good agreement with the determined N-terminal sequence of the purified protein and shared high homology with other serine proteases isolated from different snake venoms. Blast search using amino acid sequence of Da-36 against public database revealed that Da-36 showed a maximal identity of 90% with both Dav-X (Swiss-Prot: Q9I8W9.1) and thrombin-like protein 1 (GenBank: AAW56608.1) from the same snake species, indicating that Da-36 is a novel serine protease.

  10. 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

  11. Tears of Venom: Hydrodynamics of Reptilian Envenomation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2011-05-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

    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

  13. 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.

  14. Reptile cardiology.

    PubMed

    Mitchell, Mark A

    2009-01-01

    Cardiovascular disease in reptiles generally is considered an uncommon finding in captive animals, but no large-scale, cross-sectional studies have been performed to determine its prevalence. It is possible that cardiovascular disease is more common than is generally accepted and that the current belief results from limited clinical and diagnostic experience. This article offers guidance drawn from the author's clinical experience and the available literature. It is important that veterinarians pursue a thorough history, physical examination, and diagnostic work-up when managing cardiovascular disease in a reptile case. Veterinarians working with these cases should document their findings and share them with their colleagues to build an evidence-based foundation for reptile medicine.

  15. 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

  16. Molecular evolution, functional variation, and proposed nomenclature of the gene family that includes sphingomyelinase D in sicariid spider venoms.

    PubMed

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

    2009-03-01

    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 alpha and beta, within which we define seven and three subclades, respectively. Sequences in the alpha 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 beta 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 alpha and beta 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.

  17. 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

  18. Reptile embryology.

    PubMed

    Vickaryous, Matthew K; McLean, Katherine E

    2011-01-01

    Reptiles (lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodylians) are becoming increasing popular as models for developmental investigations. In this review the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is presented as a reptilian model for embryonic studies. We provide details of husbandry, breeding and modifications to two popular histological techniques (whole-mount histochemistry and immunohistochemistry). In addition, we provide a summary of basic reptilian husbandry requirements and discuss important details of embryonic nutrition, egg anatomy and sex determination.

  19. 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.

  20. Domain loss facilitates accelerated evolution and neofunctionalization of duplicate snake venom metalloproteinase toxin genes.

    PubMed

    Casewell, Nicholas R; Wagstaff, Simon C; Harrison, Robert A; Renjifo, Camila; Wüster, Wolfgang

    2011-09-01

    Gene duplication is a key mechanism for the adaptive evolution and neofunctionalization of gene families. Large multigene families often exhibit complex evolutionary histories as a result of frequent gene duplication acting in concordance with positive selection pressures. Alterations in the domain structure of genes, causing changes in the molecular scaffold of proteins, can also result in a complex evolutionary history and has been observed in functionally diverse multigene toxin families. Here, we investigate the role alterations in domain structure have on the tempo of evolution and neofunctionalization of multigene families using the snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) as a model system. Our results reveal that the evolutionary history of viperid (Serpentes: Viperidae) SVMPs is repeatedly punctuated by domain loss, with the single loss of the cysteine-rich domain, facilitating the formation of P-II class SVMPs, occurring prior to the convergent loss of the disintegrin domain to form multiple P-I SVMP structures. Notably, the majority of phylogenetic branches where domain loss was inferred to have occurred exhibited highly significant evidence of positive selection in surface-exposed amino acid residues, resulting in the neofunctionalization of P-II and P-I SVMP classes. These results provide a valuable insight into the mechanisms by which complex gene families evolve and detail how the loss of domain structures can catalyze the accelerated evolution of novel gene paralogues. The ensuing generation of differing molecular scaffolds encoded by the same multigene family facilitates gene neofunctionalization while presenting an evolutionary advantage through the retention of multiple genes capable of encoding functionally distinct proteins.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The expression and function of hsp30-like small heat shock protein genes in amphibians, birds, fish, and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Heikkila, John J

    2017-01-01

    Small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) are a superfamily of molecular chaperones with important roles in protein homeostasis and other cellular functions. Amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds have a shsp gene called hsp30, which was also referred to as hspb11 or hsp25 in some fish and bird species. Hsp30 genes, which are not found in mammals, are transcribed in response to heat shock or other stresses by means of the heat shock factor that is activated in response to an accumulation of unfolded protein. Amino acid sequence analysis revealed that representative HSP30s from different classes of non-mammalian vertebrates were distinct from other sHSPs including HSPB1/HSP27. Studies with amphibian and fish recombinant HSP30 determined that they were molecular chaperones since they inhibited heat- or chemically-induced aggregation of unfolded protein. During non-mammalian vertebrate development, hsp30 genes were differentially expressed in selected tissues. Also, heat shock-induced stage-specific expression of hsp30 genes in frog embryos was regulated at the level of chromatin structure. In adults and/or tissue culture cells, hsp30 gene expression was induced by heat shock, arsenite, cadmium or proteasomal inhibitors, all of which enhanced the production of unfolded/damaged protein. Finally, immunocytochemical analysis of frog and chicken tissue culture cells revealed that proteotoxic stress-induced HSP30 accumulation co-localized with aggresome-like inclusion bodies. The congregation of damaged protein in aggresomes minimizes the toxic effect of aggregated protein dispersed throughout the cell. The current availability of probes to detect the presence of hsp30 mRNA or encoded protein has resulted in the increased use of hsp30 gene expression as a marker of proteotoxic stress in non-mammalian vertebrates.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Identification of a novel splicing form of amelogenin gene in a reptile, Ctenosaura similis.

    PubMed

    Wang, Xinping; Deng, Xuliang; Zhang, Xichen

    2012-01-01

    Amelogenin, the major enamel matrix protein in tooth development, has been demonstrated to play a significant role in tooth enamel formation. Previous studies have identified the alternative splicing of amelogenin in many mammalian vertebrates as one mechanism for amelogenin heterogeneous expression in teeth. While amelogenin and its splicing forms in mammalian vertebrates have been cloned and sequenced, the amelogenin gene, especially its splicing forms in non-mammalian species, remains largely unknown. To better understand the mechanism underlying amelogenin evolution, we previously cloned and characterized an amelogenin gene sequence from a squamate, the green iguana. In this study, we employed RT-PCR to amplify the amelogenin gene from the black spiny-tailed iguana Ctenosaura similis teeth, and discovered a novel splicing form of the amelogenin gene. The transcript of the newly identified iguana amelogenin gene (named C. Similis-T2L) is 873 nucleotides long encoding an expected polypeptide of 206 amino acids. The C. Similis-T2L contains a unique exon denominated exon X, which is located between exon 5 and exon 6. The C. Similis-T2L contains 7 exons including exon 1, 2, 3, 5, X, 6, and 7. Analysis of the secondary and tertiary structures of T2L amelogenin protein demonstrated that exon X has a dramatic effect on the amelogenin structures. This is the first report to provide definitive evidence for the amelogenin alternative splicing in non-mammalian vertebrates, revealing a unique exon X and the splicing form of the amelogenin gene transcript in Ctenosaura similis.

  10. Reptile Pregnancy Is Underpinned by Complex Changes in Uterine Gene Expression: A Comparative Analysis of the Uterine Transcriptome in Viviparous and Oviparous Lizards

    PubMed Central

    Brandley, Matthew C.; Belov, Katherine; Thompson, Michael B.

    2016-01-01

    The evolution of new organs is difficult to study because most vertebrate organs evolved only once, more than 500 million years ago. An ideal model for understanding complex organ evolution is the placenta, a structure that is present in live bearing reptiles and mammals (amniotes), which has evolved independently more than 115 times. Using transcriptomics, we characterized the uterine gene expression patterns through the reproductive cycle of a viviparous skink lizard, Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii. Then we compare these patterns with the patterns of gene expression from two oviparous skinks Lampropholis guichenoti and Lerista bougainvillii. While thousands of genes are differentially expressed between pregnant and non-pregnant uterine tissue in the viviparous skink, few differentially expressed genes were identified between gravid and non-gravid oviparous skinks. This finding suggests that in P. entrecasteauxii, a pregnant-specific gene expression profile has evolved, allowing for the evolution of pregnancy-specific innovations in the uterus. We find substantial gene expression differences between the uterus of the chorioallantoic and the yolk sac placenta in P. entrecasteauxii, suggesting these placental regions are specialized for different placental functions. In particular, the chorioallantoic placenta is likely a major site of nutrient transport by membrane-bound transport proteins, while the yolk sac placenta also likely transports nutrients but via apocrine secretions. We discuss how the evolution of transcription factor networks is likely to underpin the evolution of the new transcriptional states in the uterine tissue of viviparous reptiles. PMID:27635053

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Reptiles in the Classroom

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gantert, Robert L.

    1972-01-01

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

  16. Viruses infecting reptiles.

    PubMed

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. Ribosomal RNA genes and deuterostome phylogeny revisited: more cyclostomes, elasmobranchs, reptiles, and a brittle star.

    PubMed

    Mallatt, Jon; Winchell, Christopher J

    2007-06-01

    This is an expanded study of the relationships among the deuterostome animals based on combined, nearly complete 28S and 18S rRNA genes (>3925 nt.). It adds sequences from 20 more taxa to the approximately 45 sequences used in past studies. Seven of the new taxa were sequenced here (brittle star Ophiomyxa, lizard Anolis, turtle Chrysemys, sixgill shark Hexanchus, electric ray Narcine, Southern Hemisphere lamprey Geotria, and Atlantic hagfish Myxine for 28S), and the other 13 were from GenBank and the literature (from a chicken, dog, rat, human, three lungfishes, and several ray-finned fishes, or Actinopterygii). As before, our alignments were based on secondary structure but did not account for base pairing in the stems of rRNA. The new findings, derived from likelihood-based tree-reconstruction methods and by testing hypotheses with parametric bootstrapping, include: (1) brittle star joins with sea star in the echinoderm clade, Asterozoa; (2) with two hagfishes and two lampreys now available, the cyclostome (jawless) fishes remain monophyletic; (3) Hexanchiform sharks are monophyletic, as Hexanchus groups with the frilled shark, Chlamydoselachus; (4) turtle is the sister taxon of all other amniotes; (5) bird is closer to the lizard than to the mammals; (6) the bichir Polypterus is in a monophyletic Actinopterygii; (7) Zebrafish Danio is the sister taxon of the other two teleosts we examined (trout and perch); (8) the South American and African lungfishes group together to the exclusion of the Australian lungfish. Other findings either upheld those of the previous rRNA-based studies (e.g., echinoderms and hemichordates group as Ambulacraria; orbitostylic sharks; batoids are not derived from any living lineage of sharks) or were obvious (monophyly of mammals, gnathostomes, vertebrates, echinoderms, etc.). Despite all these findings, the rRNA data still fail to resolve the relations among the major groups of deuterostomes (tunicates, Ambulacraria, cephalochordates

  19. Characterization of a ribonuclease gene and encoded protein from the reptile, Iguana iguana.

    PubMed

    Nitto, Takeaki; Lin, Cynthia; Dyer, Kimberly D; Wagner, Robert A; Rosenberg, Helene F

    2005-06-06

    In this work we identify an intronless open reading frame encoding an RNase A ribonuclease from genomic DNA from the Iguana iguana IgH2 cell line. The iguana RNase is expressed primarily in pancreas, and represents the majority of the specific enzymatic activity in this tissue. The encoded sequence shares many features with its better-known mammalian counterparts including the crucial His12, Lys40 and His114 catalytic residues and efficient hydrolytic activity against yeast tRNA substrate (k(cat)/K(m)=6 x 10(4) M(-1) s(-1)), albeit at a reduced pH optimum (pH 6.0). Although the catalytic activity of the iguana RNase is not diminished by human placental RI, iguana RNase is not bactericidal nor is it cytotoxic even at micromolar concentrations. Phylogenetic analysis indicates moderate (46%) amino acid sequence similarity to a pancreatic RNase isolated from Chelydra serpentina (snapping turtle) although no specific relationship could be determined between these RNases and the pancreatic ribonucleases characterized among mammalian species. Further analysis of ribonucleases from non-mammalian vertebrate species is needed in order to define relationships and lineages within the larger RNase A gene superfamily.

  20. Early evolution of the venom system in lizards and snakes.

    PubMed

    Fry, Bryan G; Vidal, Nicolas; Norman, Janette A; Vonk, Freek J; Scheib, Holger; Ramjan, S F Ryan; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Fung, Kim; Hedges, S Blair; Richardson, Michael K; Hodgson, Wayne C; Ignjatovic, Vera; Summerhayes, Robyn; Kochva, Elazar

    2006-02-02

    Among extant reptiles only two lineages are known to have evolved venom delivery systems, the advanced snakes and helodermatid lizards (Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard). Evolution of the venom system is thought to underlie the impressive radiation of the advanced snakes (2,500 of 3,000 snake species). In contrast, the lizard venom system is thought to be restricted to just two species and to have evolved independently from the snake venom system. Here we report the presence of venom toxins in two additional lizard lineages (Monitor Lizards and Iguania) and show that all lineages possessing toxin-secreting oral glands form a clade, demonstrating a single early origin of the venom system in lizards and snakes. Construction of gland complementary-DNA libraries and phylogenetic analysis of transcripts revealed that nine toxin types are shared between lizards and snakes. Toxinological analyses of venom components from the Lace Monitor Varanus varius showed potent effects on blood pressure and clotting ability, bioactivities associated with a rapid loss of consciousness and extensive bleeding in prey. The iguanian lizard Pogona barbata retains characteristics of the ancestral venom system, namely serial, lobular non-compound venom-secreting glands on both the upper and lower jaws, whereas the advanced snakes and anguimorph lizards (including Monitor Lizards, Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard) have more derived venom systems characterized by the loss of the mandibular (lower) or maxillary (upper) glands. Demonstration that the snakes, iguanians and anguimorphs form a single clade provides overwhelming support for a single, early origin of the venom system in lizards and snakes. These results provide new insights into the evolution of the venom system in squamate reptiles and open new avenues for biomedical research and drug design using hitherto unexplored venom proteins.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Respiratory medicine of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Schumacher, Juergen

    2011-05-01

    Noninfectious and infectious causes have been implicated in the development of respiratory tract disease in reptiles. Treatment modalities in reptiles have to account for species differences in response to therapeutic agents as well as interpretation of diagnostic findings. Data on effective drugs and dosages for the treatment of respiratory diseases are often lacking in reptiles. Recently, advances have been made on the application of advanced imaging modalities, especially computed tomography for the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of reptiles. This article describes common infectious and noninfectious causes of respiratory disease in reptiles, including diagnostic and therapeutic regimen.

  4. Noctilisin, a Venom Glycopeptide of Sirex noctilio (Hymenoptera: Siricidae), Causes Needle Wilt and Defense Gene Responses in Pines.

    PubMed

    Bordeaux, J Michael; Lorenz, W Walter; Johnson, Darryl; Badgett, Majors J; Glushka, John; Orlando, Ronald; Dean, Jeffrey F D

    2014-10-01

    During oviposition, female Sirex noctilio (F.) (Siricidae) woodwasps inject their conifer hosts with a venom gland secretion. The secretion induces a variety of host physiological changes that facilitate subsequent lethal infection by a symbiotic fungus. A heat-stable factor that can migrate from the site of oviposition in the trunk through the xylem to needles in the crown of attacked pines was purified by size-fractionation and reversed-phase-high-performance liquid chromatography using activity assays based on defense gene induction as well as the needle wilt response in pine shoot explants. An 11-amino acid, posttranslationally modified peptide (SEGPROGTKRP) encoded by the most abundant transcript recovered from S. noctilio venom gland tissue comprised the backbone of the 1,850 Da active factor. Posttranslational modifications included hydroxylation of a Pro residue at position 6 as well as O-glycosylation of Ser and Thr residues at positions 1 and 8, respectively. The O-linked sugars were identical α-linked N-acetylgalactosamine residues modified at the C6 position by addition of phosphoethanolamine. In contrast to the native peptide, a synthetic version of the hydroxylated peptide backbone lacking the glycosyl side chains failed to induce pine defense genes or cause needle wilt in excised shoots. This peptide, hereafter called noctilisin, is related to the O-glycosylated short-chain proline-rich antimicrobial peptides exemplified by drosocin. The noctilisin structure contains motifs which may explain how it avoids detection by pine defense systems.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2015-01-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Testing the 'toxin hypothesis of allergy': mast cells, IgE, and innate and acquired immune responses to venoms.

    PubMed

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

    2015-10-01

    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 type 2 (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.

  10. 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

  11. Take Care with Pet Reptiles

    MedlinePlus

    ... CDC Features Take Care with Pet Reptiles and Amphibians Language: English Español (Spanish) Recommend on Facebook Tweet ... helpful resources. Safe Handling Tips for Reptiles and Amphibians Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling reptiles ...

  12. 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.

  13. Proteomics and deep sequencing comparison of seasonally active venom glands in the platypus reveals novel venom peptides and distinct expression profiles.

    PubMed

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

    2012-11-01

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

  14. Distribution of RPTLN Genes Across Reptilia: Hypothesized Role for RPTLN in the Evolution of SVMPs.

    PubMed

    Sanz-Soler, Raquel; Sanz, Libia; Calvete, Juan J

    2016-11-01

    We report the cloning, full-length sequencing, and broad distribution of reptile-specific RPTLN genes across a number of Anapsida (Testudines), Diapsida (Serpentes, Sauria), and Archosauria (Crocodylia) taxa. The remarkable structural conservation of RPTLN genes in species that had a common ancestor more than 250 million years ago, their low transcriptional level, and the lack of evidence for RPTLN translation in any reptile organ investigated, suggest for this ancient gene family a yet elusive function as long noncoding RNAs. The high conservation in extant snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) of the signal peptide sequence coded for by RPTLN genes strongly suggests that this region may have played a key role in the recruitment and restricted expression of SVMP genes in the venom gland of Caenophidian snakes, some 60-50 Mya. More recently, 23-16 Mya, the neofunctionalization of an RPTLN copy in the venom gland of snakes of the genera Macrovipera and Daboia marked the beginning of the evolutionary history of a new family of disintegrins, the α1β1-collagen binding antagonists, short-RTS/KTS disintegrins. This evolutionary scenario predicts that venom gland RPTLN and SVMP genes may share tissue-specific regulatory elements. Future genomic studies should support or refute this hypothesis.

  15. 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.

  16. Glial inflammation and neurodegeneration induced by candoxin, a novel neurotoxin from Bungarus candidus venom: global gene expression analysis using microarray.

    PubMed

    Pachiappan, A; Thwin, M M; Manikandan, J; Gopalakrishnakone, P

    2005-12-15

    Candoxin (PDB #1JGK), a three-finger neurotoxin from Bungarus candidus venom, inhibits post-synaptic neuromuscular and neuronal alpha7nACh-receptors, and induces delayed cell-death throughout the glial population. When applied to cultured human glial cell lines, candoxin (CDX) induced cell death in a concentration (EC(50) approximately 1muM) and time dependent manner. Results of TUNEL-histochemistry further confirm CDX-induced brain (hippocampus, frontal cortex, and temporal regions) damage when administered intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v) in adult mice. In this study, we explored differential gene expression profiles following exposure of human glial (Hs 683) cell lines to CDX at various time intervals using Affymetrix-GeneChips. By means of MAS and GeneSpring analyses, 105 genes whose expression was significantly (P<0.01) altered by at least 3-fold were selected. Results of the genome analysis reveal that the potential role of CDX at molecular level involves the regulation of genes in signal transduction, ubiquitin-inflammation, mitochondrial-dysfunction, and damage-response pathways. In addition, using QRT-PCR and rationally designed specific CDX-binding peptide (P-NT.II), we identified the genes-IL7R, IL13RA2, IL-1beta, TNFRSF12A, GADD45A, CD44 and IFI44-that might play an important role in CDX-induced glial inflammation, DNA-damage and degeneration. These findings reveal new insight into the molecular mechanisms of glial-driven neurodegeneration after exposure to neurotoxins.

  17. Renal pathology in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Zwart, Peernel

    2006-01-01

    The class of Reptilia varies widely. Both the gross morphology and microscopic anatomy of the kidneys are specific for each species. In each species of reptile, the physiology of the renal system has adapted to the specific conditions of life, including, among other factors, the type of food, environmental temperature, and the availability of water. The pathology of the kidneys in reptiles has been poorly studied, but in recent years a number of investigators have specifically studied reptilian renal pathology.

  18. Radionuclide transfer to reptiles.

    PubMed

    Wood, Michael D; Beresford, Nicholas A; Semenov, Dmitry V; Yankovich, Tamara L; Copplestone, David

    2010-11-01

    Reptiles are an important, and often protected, component of many ecosystems but have rarely been fully considered within ecological risk assessments (ERA) due to a paucity of data on contaminant uptake and effects. This paper presents a meta-analysis of literature-derived environmental media (soil and water) to whole-body concentration ratios (CRs) for predicting the transfer of 35 elements (Am, As, B, Ba, Ca, Cd, Ce, Cm, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Fe, Hg, K, La, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Ni, Pb, Po, Pu, Ra, Rb, Sb, Se, Sr, Th, U, V, Y, Zn, Zr) to reptiles in freshwater ecosystems and 15 elements (Am, C, Cs, Cu, K, Mn, Ni, Pb, Po, Pu, Sr, Tc, Th, U, Zn) to reptiles in terrestrial ecosystems. These reptile CRs are compared with CRs for other vertebrate groups. Tissue distribution data are also presented along with data on the fractional mass of bone, kidney, liver and muscle in reptiles. Although the data were originally collected for use in radiation dose assessments, many of the CR data presented in this paper will also be useful for chemical ERA and for the assessments of dietary transfer in humans for whom reptiles constitute an important component of the diet, such as in Australian aboriginal communities.

  19. Viruses in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Ariel, Ellen

    2011-09-21

    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.

  20. 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.

  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.

  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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Rapid evolution of Beta-keratin genes contribute to phenotypic differences that distinguish turtles and birds from other reptiles.

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  6. Clinical evaluation of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Divers, S J

    1999-05-01

    A detailed history and physical examination usually provides the veterinarian with a list of possible differential diagnoses and indicates which further investigations may be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. Radiography, ultrasonography, endoscopy, hematology, blood biochemistry, and microbiological and parasitologic investigations are all proven techniques that are used extensively in reptile medicine. A logical case workup enables the clinician to make a previously elusive reptile diagnosis and offers this interesting group of animals veterinary services comparable with that already expected for more domesticated pets.

  7. 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.

  8. Evolution of CRISPs associated with toxicoferan-reptilian venom and mammalian reproduction.

    PubMed

    Sunagar, Kartik; Johnson, Warren E; O'Brien, Stephen J; Vasconcelos, Vítor; Antunes, Agostinho

    2012-07-01

    Cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISPs) are glycoproteins found exclusively in vertebrates and have broad diversified functions. They are hypothesized to play important roles in mammalian reproduction and in reptilian venom, where they disrupt homeostasis of the prey through several mechanisms, including among others, blockage of cyclic nucleotide-gated and voltage-gated ion channels and inhibition of smooth muscle contraction. We evaluated the molecular evolution of CRISPs in toxicoferan reptiles at both nucleotide and protein levels relative to their nonvenomous mammalian homologs. We show that the evolution of CRISP gene in these reptiles is significantly influenced by positive selection and in snakes (ω = 3.84) more than in lizards (ω = 2.33), whereas mammalian CRISPs were under strong negative selection (CRISP1 = 0.55, CRISP2 = 0.40, and CRISP3 = 0.68). The use of ancestral sequence reconstruction, mapping of mutations on the three-dimensional structure, and detailed evaluation of selection pressures suggests that the toxicoferan CRISPs underwent accelerated evolution aided by strong positive selection and directional mutagenesis, whereas their mammalian homologs are constrained by negative selection. Gene and protein-level selection analyses identified 41 positively selected sites in snakes and 14 sites in lizards. Most of these sites are located on the molecular surface (nearly 76% in snakes and 79% in lizards), whereas the backbone of the protein retains a highly conserved structural scaffold. Nearly 46% of the positively selected sites occur in the cysteine-rich domain of the protein. This directional mutagenesis, where the hotspots of mutations are found on the molecular surface and functional domains of the protein, acts as a diversifying mechanism for the exquisite biological targeting of CRISPs in toxicoferan reptiles. Finally, our analyses suggest that the evolution of toxicoferan-CRISP venoms might have been influenced by the specific predatory

  9. 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

    2016-07-12

    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.

  10. 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

  11. Characterization of a nonclassical class I MHC gene in a reptile, the Galápagos marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus).

    PubMed

    Glaberman, Scott; Du Pasquier, Louis; Caccone, Adalgisa

    2008-08-06

    Squamates are a diverse order of vertebrates, representing more than 7,000 species. Yet, descriptions of full-length major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in this group are nearly absent from the literature, while the number of MHC studies continues to rise in other vertebrate taxa. The lack of basic information about MHC organization in squamates inhibits investigation into the relationship between MHC polymorphism and disease, and leaves a large taxonomic gap in our understanding of amniote MHC evolution. Here, we use both cDNA and genomic sequence data to characterize a class I MHC gene (Amcr-UA) from the Galápagos marine iguana, a member of the squamate subfamily Iguaninae. Amcr-UA appears to be functional since it is expressed in the blood and contains many of the conserved peptide-binding residues that are found in classical class I genes of other vertebrates. In addition, comparison of Amcr-UA to homologous sequences from other iguanine species shows that the antigen-binding portion of this gene is under purifying selection, rather than balancing selection, and therefore may have a conserved function. A striking feature of Amcr-UA is that both the cDNA and genomic sequences lack the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains that are necessary to anchor the class I receptor molecule into the cell membrane, suggesting that the product of this gene is secreted and consequently not involved in classical class I antigen-presentation. The truncated and conserved character of Amcr-UA lead us to define it as a nonclassical gene that is related to the few available squamate class I sequences. However, phylogenetic analysis placed Amcr-UA in a basal position relative to other published classical MHC genes from squamates, suggesting that this gene diverged near the beginning of squamate diversification.

  12. Parasites in pet reptiles.

    PubMed

    Rataj, Aleksandra Vergles; Lindtner-Knific, Renata; Vlahović, Ksenija; Mavri, Urška; Dovč, Alenka

    2011-05-30

    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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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

  15. The effect of venom skin testing on venom RAST titers.

    PubMed

    Green, R L; Levine, M I

    1982-03-01

    Venom RAST titers were measured in 20 insect-sensitive patients before and two to three weeks after skin testing with insect venoms to determine whether venom testing might cause a rise in venom IgE titers. No significant rise in venom-specific RAST titers for honey bee, wasp and yellow jacket venoms was observed.

  16. 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

  17. SNAKE VENOMICS OF Crotalus tigris: THE MINIMALIST TOXIN ARSENAL OF THE DEADLIEST NEARTIC RATTLESNAKE VENOM

    PubMed Central

    CALVETE, Juan J.; PÉREZ, Alicia; LOMONTE, Bruno; SÁNCHEZ, Elda E.; SANZ, Libia

    2012-01-01

    We report the proteomic and antivenomic characterization of Crotalus tigris venom. This venom exhibits the highest lethality for mice among rattlesnakes and the simplest toxin proteome reported to date. The venom proteome of C. tigris comprises 7–8 gene products from 6 toxin families: the presynaptic β-neurotoxic heterodimeric PLA2, Mojave toxin, and two serine proteinases comprise, respectively, 66% and 27% of the C. tigris toxin arsenal, whereas a VEGF-like protein, a CRISP molecule, a medium-sized disintegrin, and 1–2 PIII-SVMPs, each represents 0.1–5% of the total venom proteome. This toxin profile really explains the systemic neuro- and myotoxic effects observed in envenomated animals. In addition, we found that venom lethality of C. tigris and other North American rattlesnake type II venoms correlates with the concentration of Mojave toxin A-subunit, supporting the view that the neurotoxic venom phenotype of crotalid type II venoms may be described as a single-allele adaptation. Our data suggest that the evolutionary trend towards neurotoxicity, which has been also reported for the South American rattlesnakes, may have resulted by paedomorphism. The ability of an experimental antivenom to effectively immunodeplete proteins from the type II venoms of C. tigris, C. horridus, C. oreganus helleri, C. scutulatus scutulatus, and S. catenatus catenatus, indicated the feasibility of generating a pan-American anti-Crotalus type II antivenom, suggested by the identification of shared evolutionary trends among South American and North American Crotalus. PMID:22181673

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    SUMMARY 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

  19. 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

  20. Gene expression and feeding ecology: evolution of piscivory in the venomous gastropod genus Conus.

    PubMed Central

    Duda, Thomas F.; Palumbi, Stephen R.

    2004-01-01

    Differential expression of gene-family members is typically associated with the specific development of certain tissues and organs, but its importance in the ecological adaptation of organisms has rarely been investigated. Several specialized feeding modes have evolved within the predatory marine gastropod genus Conus, including molluscivory and piscivory. Based on phylogenetic investigations of Conus species, it has been concluded that piscivory arose at least twice in this genus. Moreover, molecular analyses of conotoxin mRNA transcripts reveal that piscivores from independent evolutionary lineages express the same subset of four-loop conotoxins, contrary to phylogenetic expectations. These results demonstrate that differential expression of gene-family members can play a key role in adaptive evolution, particularly during shifts to new ecological niches. PMID:15306367

  1. [Cloning and structure of gene encoded alpha-latrocrustoxin from the Black widow spider venom].

    PubMed

    Danilevich, V N; Luk'ianov, S A; Grishin, E V

    1999-07-01

    The primary structure of the crusta gene encoding alpha-latrocrustoxin (alpha-LCT), a high molecular mass neurotoxin specific to crustaceans, was determined in the black widow spider Latrodectus mactans tredicimguttatus genome. The total length of the sequenced DNA was 4693 bp. The structural part of the black widow spider chromosome gene encoding alpha-LCT does not contain introns. The sequenced DNA contains a single extended open reading frame (4185 bp) and encodes a protein precursor of alpha-LCT, comprising 1395 aa. We assume the Met residue at position -10 relative to the N-terminal residue of Glu1 of the mature toxin to be the first one in the protein precursor. The calculated molecular mass of the precursor (156147 Da) exceeds that of the mature toxin by approximately 30 kDa. These data are in agreement with the notion that over the course of maturation the protein precursor undergoes double processing--cleavage of a decapeptide from the N-terminal part and of a approximately 200-aa fragment from the C-terminal part. alpha-LCT displayed a number of imperfect ankyrin-like repeats and areas of structural homology with earlier studied latrotoxins; the highest homology degree (62%) was revealed with alpha-latroinsectotoxin (alpha-LIT).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Allergies to Insect Venom

    MedlinePlus

    Allergies To Insect Venom Facts About Allergies The tendency to develop allergies may be inherited. If you have allergic tendencies and ... lives of those who are sensitive to it...insect venom! Although less common than pollen allergy, insect ...

  5. 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)

  6. [Jaws of amphibians and reptiles].

    PubMed

    Tanimoto, Masahiro

    2005-04-01

    Big jaws of amphibians and reptiles are mainly treated in this article. In amphibians enlarged skulls are for the big jaw in contrast with human's skulls for the brain. For example, famous fossils of Homo diluvii testis are ones of salamanders in fact. In reptiles, mosasaur jaws and teeth and their ecology are introduced for instance.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-06-24

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

  10. Venomics: integrative venom proteomics and beyond.

    PubMed

    Calvete, Juan J

    2017-02-20

    Venoms are integrated phenotypes that evolved independently in, and are used for predatory and defensive purposes by, a wide phylogenetic range of organisms. The same principles that contribute to the evolutionary success of venoms, contribute to making the study of venoms of great interest in such diverse fields as evolutionary ecology and biotechnology. Evolution is profoundly contingent, and nature also reinvents itself continuosly. Changes in a complex phenotypic trait, such as venom, reflect the influences of prior evolutionary history, chance events, and selection. Reconstructing the natural history of venoms, particularly those of snakes, which will be dealt with in more detail in this review, requires the integration of different levels of knowledge into a meaningful and comprehensive evolutionary framework for separating stochastic changes from adaptive evolution. The application of omics technologies and other disciplines have contributed to a qualitative and quantitative advance in the road map towards this goal. In this review we will make a foray into the world of animal venoms, discuss synergies and complementarities of the different approaches used in their study, and identify current bottlenecks that prevent inferring the evolutionary mechanisms and ecological constraints that molded snake venoms to their present-day variability landscape.

  11. 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

  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. 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

  14. 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.

  15. [Toxicology of Hymenoptera venoms].

    PubMed

    Ciszowski, Krzysztof; Mietka-Ciszowska, Aneta

    2012-01-01

    Hymenoptera venom is a secretion of special poison glands of insects. It serves both as a defensive substance against aggressors, as well as weapon used to paralyze the victim during gaining food. Chemically, the venom is a mixture of biologically active substances of high-, medium-, and small molecular weight with a variety of physiological functions. Individual substances may have toxic effects on stung human contributing to certain clinical signs and symptoms of venom poisoning. In the present paper, chemical structure, physiological role and toxicity of particular components of Hymenoptera venom are described.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. The earliest known reptile

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Smithson, T. R.

    1989-12-01

    AMNIOTES (reptiles, birds and mammals) are distinguished from non-amniote tetrapods (amphibians) by the presence of complex embryonic membranes. One of these, the amnion, gives its name to the group. Very few skeletal characters distinguish amniotes from amphibians1, making it difficult to recognize early amniotes in the fossil record. The earliest amniote fossil identified so far is Hylonomus from the Westphalian (Upper Carboniferous) of Joggins, Nova Scotia2,3, (~300 Myr). I report here the discovery of a much earlier amniote skeleton from the Brigantian (Lower Carboniferous) of Scotland (~338 Myr) 4, which thus represents the earliest occurrence of amniotes in the fossil record. The specimen was collected from the East Kirkton Limestone, near Bathgate, West Lothian4-8, and is part of a unique terrestrial fauna that includes eurypterids, myriapods, scorpions and the earliest-known harvestman spider7,9, together with the earliest known temno-spondyls, a group that may include the ancestors of all living amphibians10. It will make an important contribution to our knowledge of early amniote morphology and the interrelationships of tetrapods.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. [Enterobacteria of reptiles (author's transl)].

    PubMed

    Roggendorf, M; Müller, H E

    1976-10-01

    The aerobic gram-negative faecal flora of 78 reptiles consisting of 46 species (39 lizards of 23 species, 15 tortoises of 9 species, 24 snakes of 14 species) was studied. Salmonella was found to be present in 50% of lizards, in 16% of tortoises and in 16% of snakes. There were all together 15 different serotypes. Edwardsiella tarda was isolated in 20% of tortoises, in 12% of snakes but only in 3% of lizards. Tortoises represent therefore the possible normal habitat of Edwardsiella tarda. We isolated Arizona specially from snakes as was described by many authors. A new serotype (Arizona 26a, 26b:27 - 21 = S. arizonae 61:Z10:Z35) was found in a rattlesnake. There were found also much amounts of Citrobacter (52%), E. coli (50%), Proteus mirabilis (49%), Proteus morganii (18%), Proteus rettgeri (26%), Proteus vulgaris (32%). Klebsiella and Enterobacter seem to prefere the lizards. The overwhelming majority of the studied bacteria were lactose-negative, corresponding to the inability of reptiles producing lactose. The normal habitat of Salmonellae in reptiles and the high phylogenetic age of reptiles allows the hypothesis that salmonellae could have a similar old age as their host animals, because the ecological niche, i.e. the bowel of reptiles, has no changed for some hundred million years.

  7. Elemental analysis of scorpion venoms

    PubMed Central

    Al-Asmari, AbdulRahman K; Kunnathodi, Faisal; Al Saadon, Khalid; Idris, Mohammed M

    2016-01-01

    Scorpion venom is a rich source of biomolecules, which can perturb physiological activity of the host on envenomation and may also have a therapeutic potential. Scorpion venoms produced by the columnar cells of venom gland are complex mixture of mucopolysaccharides, neurotoxic peptides and other components. This study was aimed at cataloguing the elemental composition of venoms obtained from medically important scorpions found in the Arabian peninsula. The global elemental composition of the crude venom obtained from Androctonus bicolor, Androctonus crassicauda and Leiurus quinquestriatus scorpions were estimated using ICP-MS analyzer. The study catalogued several chemical elements present in the scorpion venom using ICP-MS total quant analysis and quantitation of nine elements exclusively using appropriate standards. Fifteen chemical elements including sodium, potassium and calcium were found abundantly in the scorpion venom at PPM concentrations. Thirty six chemical elements of different mass ranges were detected in the venom at PPB level. Quantitative analysis of the venoms revealed copper to be the most abundant element in Androctonus sp. venom but at lower level in Leiurus quinquestriatus venom; whereas zinc and manganese was found at higher levels in Leiurus sp. venom but at lower level in Androctonus sp. venom. These data and the concentrations of other different elements present in the various venoms are likely to increase our understanding of the mechanisms of venom activity and their pharmacological potentials. PMID:27826410

  8. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-03-01

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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. Reptiles and amphibians as laboratory animals.

    PubMed

    O'Rourke, Dorcas P

    2002-06-01

    Although reptiles and amphibians have long been used in biomedical research, few in the arena understand their health and husbandry needs. The author provides an introduction to the successful maintenance of reptiles and amphibians in the laboratory environment.

  16. 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)

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. The Role of TRAF4 and B3GAT1 Gene Expression in the Food Hypersensitivity and Insect Venom Allergy in Mastocytosis.

    PubMed

    Górska, Aleksandra; Gruchała-Niedoszytko, Marta; Niedoszytko, Marek; Maciejewska, Agnieszka; Chełmińska, Marta; Skrzypski, Marcin; Wasąg, Bartosz; Kaczkan, Małgorzata; Lange, Magdalena; Nedoszytko, Bogusław; Pawłowski, Ryszard; Małgorzewicz, Sylwia; Jassem, Ewa

    2016-12-01

    Mastocytosis is an uncommon disease classified as a myeloproliferative neoplasm, however, its symptoms are broad and place patients at crossroads between dermatology, hematology and allergology. Patients with mastocytosis often suffer from symptoms resulting from the activation and release of mediators from the mast cells, such as generalized itching, redness, headache, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bone pain or arthritis, hypotension and shock. The possible severe, fatal or near fatal reactions caused by food hypersensitivity are reasons for the research focused on marker identification. The aim of the study was to analyse the gene expression differences in mastocytosis patients with and without food and drug hypersensitivity and insect venom allergy (IVA). A total of 57 Caucasian patients with mastocytosis were studied [median age 41.8; range 18-77 years; 15 (26.3 %) males and 42 (73.7 %) females]. Quantitative RT-PCRs of 11 genes plus ribosomal 18S RNA were run. Symptoms of food hypersensitivity were found in 12 patients (21 %), including 3 patients (13 %) with cutaneous mastocytosis (CM), and 9 (28 %) with indolent systemic mastocytosis (ISM). IVA was confirmed in 13 patients (22.8 %) including 6 patients (10.5 %) with CM, and 7 patients (12.3 %) with ISM. Drug hypersensitivity was diagnosed in 10 patients (17.5 %). Significant differences in the gene expression were found for TRAF4 (p = 0.008) in the comparison of the mastocytosis patients with and without concomitant food hypersensitivity. Furthermore significant differences were found in gene expression for B3GAT1 (p = 0.003) in patients with IVA compared to patients without insect sting anaphylaxis in the medical history. The expression of studied genes did not differ according to the presence of drug hypersensitivity. The TRAF4 expression was higher in mastocytosis patients with food hypersensitivity in their medical history, the B3GAT1 expression was lower in mastocytosis patients with IVA in

  5. 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.

  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

    2011-05-06

    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.

  7. Anti-proliferative Effects of Androctonus amoreuxi Scorpion and Cerastes cerastes Snake Venoms on Human Prostate Cancer Cells

    PubMed Central

    Akef, Hassan; Kotb, Nahla; Abo-Elmatty, Dina; Salem, Sayed

    2017-01-01

    The present study evaluated the effects of Androctonus amoreuxi scorpion venom, Cerastes cerastes snake venom and their mixture on prostate cancer cells (PC3). An MTT assay was used to determine the anti-proliferative effect of the venoms, while quantitative real time PCR was used to evaluate the expression of apoptosis-related genes (Bax and Bcl-2). Furthermore, colorimetric assays were used to measure the levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and antioxidant enzymes. Our results show that the venoms significantly reduced PC3 cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. On the other hand, these venoms significantly decreased Bcl-2 gene expression. Additionally, C. cerastes venom significantly reduced Bax gene expression, while A. amoreuxi venom and a mixture of A. amoreuxi & C. cerastes venoms did not alter Bax expression. Consequently, these venoms significantly increased the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and the oxidative stress biomarker MDA. Furthermore, these venoms also increased the activity levels of the antioxidant enzymes, catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione-S-transferase. Overall, the venoms have cytotoxic and anti-proliferative effects on PC3 cells. PMID:28382285

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Snake venomics of Crotalus tigris: the minimalist toxin arsenal of the deadliest Nearctic rattlesnake venom. Evolutionary Clues for generating a pan-specific antivenom against crotalid type II venoms [corrected].

    PubMed

    Calvete, Juan J; Pérez, Alicia; Lomonte, Bruno; Sánchez, Elda E; Sanz, Libia

    2012-02-03

    We report the proteomic and antivenomic characterization of Crotalus tigris venom. This venom exhibits the highest lethality for mice among rattlesnakes and the simplest toxin proteome reported to date. The venom proteome of C. tigris comprises 7-8 gene products from 6 toxin families; the presynaptic β-neurotoxic heterodimeric PLA(2), Mojave toxin, and two serine proteinases comprise, respectively, 66 and 27% of the C. tigris toxin arsenal, whereas a VEGF-like protein, a CRISP molecule, a medium-sized disintegrin, and 1-2 PIII-SVMPs each represent 0.1-5% of the total venom proteome. This toxin profile really explains the systemic neuro- and myotoxic effects observed in envenomated animals. In addition, we found that venom lethality of C. tigris and other North American rattlesnake type II venoms correlates with the concentration of Mojave toxin A-subunit, supporting the view that the neurotoxic venom phenotype of crotalid type II venoms may be described as a single-allele adaptation. Our data suggest that the evolutionary trend toward neurotoxicity, which has been also reported for the South American rattlesnakes, may have resulted by pedomorphism. The ability of an experimental antivenom to effectively immunodeplete proteins from the type II venoms of C. tigris, Crotalus horridus , Crotalus oreganus helleri, Crotalus scutulatus scutulatus, and Sistrurus catenatus catenatus indicated the feasibility of generating a pan-American anti-Crotalus type II antivenom, suggested by the identification of shared evolutionary trends among South and North American Crotalus species.

  11. Cysteine rich secretory proteins in reproduction and venom.

    PubMed

    Gibbs, Gerard M; O'Bryan, Moira K

    2007-01-01

    The cysteine rich secretory proteins (Crisp) are predominantly found in the mammalian male reproductive tract and in the venom of reptiles. Crisps are two domain proteins with a structurally similar yet evolutionarily diverse N-terminal domain and a characteristic cysteine rich C-terminal domain which we refer to as the Crisp domain. Since their identification 30 years ago Crisp research in mammals has focused on the characterisation of their expression localization to infer function. While no doubt important observations, these have not substantially led to an understanding of the biochemical activity of the Crisps and their role in sperm function or fertilisation. Recently, we demonstrated that the Crisp-2 Crisp domain has a structure similar to ion channel toxins ShK and BgK and was itself able to regulate Ca2+ flux through ryanodine receptors. These data build upon the previous characterizations of reptile venom Crisps as regulators of several types of ion channels and permits for the first time a dissection of the biochemical activity of mammalian Crisps.

  12. Prevalence of Salmonella in Australian reptiles.

    PubMed

    Scheelings, T Franciscus; Lightfoot, Dianne; Holz, Peter

    2011-01-01

    From January 2007 until June 2008, 504 reptiles of four families and 57 species were examined for Salmonella by using cloacal or intestinal swabs. Salmonella was identified in 139 (28%) of the 504 animals tested. Of the 504 reptiles examined, 210 were captive and 294 were wild. Ninety-eight (47%) of the captive reptiles were shedding Salmonella at the time of sampling. In contrast, only 41 (14%) of the wild reptiles were shedding Salmonella. The higher prevalence of Salmonella in captive reptiles was statistically significant (P<0.0001). No Salmonella was found in 60 wild, freshwater chelonians or 48 wild southern water skinks (Eulamprus heatwolei). Our results suggest that some species of wild reptiles in Australia are not natural carriers of Salmonella and that diet and captivity may influence Salmonella excretion in other species.

  13. Diagnosis and management of reptile orthopedic injuries.

    PubMed

    Mitchell, Mark A

    2002-01-01

    As veterinarians expand their understanding of the specific husbandry requirements for captive reptiles, nutritionally associated orthopedic injuries should decrease. Orthopedic injuries in wild reptiles, however, will continue to increase as new infrastructure encroaches on the habitats of these animals. Research should be pursued that focuses on improving our understanding of pain management in reptiles, on developing techniques to expedite bone healing, and on creating new orthopedic techniques that provide rigid stabilization without the use of temperature-sensitive materials.

  14. 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.

  15. Deep venomics reveals the mechanism for expanded peptide diversity in cone snail venom.

    PubMed

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

    2013-02-01

    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

  16. Oncology of Reptiles: Diseases, Diagnosis, and Treatment.

    PubMed

    Christman, Jane; Devau, Michael; Wilson-Robles, Heather; Hoppes, Sharman; Rech, Raquel; Russell, Karen E; Heatley, J Jill

    2017-01-01

    Based on necropsy review, neoplasia in reptiles has a comparable frequency to that of mammals and birds. Reptile neoplasia is now more frequently diagnosed in clinical practice based on increased use of advanced diagnostic techniques and improvements in reptilian husbandry allowing greater longevity of these species. This article reviews the current literature on neoplasia in reptiles, and focuses on advanced diagnostics and therapeutic options for reptilian patientssuffering neoplastic disease. Although most applied clinical reptile oncology is translated from dog and cat oncology, considerations specific to reptilian patients commonly encountered in clinical practice (turtles, tortoises, snakes, and lizards) are presented.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed

    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.

  20. 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

  1. Exon Shuffling and Origin of Scorpion Venom Biodiversity

    PubMed Central

    Wang, Xueli; Gao, Bin; Zhu, Shunyi

    2016-01-01

    Scorpion venom is a complex combinatorial library of peptides and proteins with multiple biological functions. A combination of transcriptomic and proteomic techniques has revealed its enormous molecular diversity, as identified by the presence of a large number of ion channel-targeted neurotoxins with different folds, membrane-active antimicrobial peptides, proteases, and protease inhibitors. Although the biodiversity of scorpion venom has long been known, how it arises remains unsolved. In this work, we analyzed the exon-intron structures of an array of scorpion venom protein-encoding genes and unexpectedly found that nearly all of these genes possess a phase-1 intron (one intron located between the first and second nucleotides of a codon) near the cleavage site of a signal sequence despite their mature peptides remarkably differ. This observation matches a theory of exon shuffling in the origin of new genes and suggests that recruitment of different folds into scorpion venom might be achieved via shuffling between body protein-coding genes and ancestral venom gland-specific genes that presumably contributed tissue-specific regulatory elements and secretory signal sequences. PMID:28035955

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. Preclinical testing of Peruvian anti-bothropic anti-venom against Bothrops andianus snake venom.

    PubMed

    Schneider, Francisco S; Starling, Maria C; Duarte, Clara G; Machado de Avila, Ricardo; Kalapothakis, Evanguedes; Silva Suarez, Walter; Tintaya, Benigno; Flores Garrido, Karin; Seraylan Ormachea, Silvia; Yarleque, Armando; Bonilla, César; Chávez-Olórtegui, Carlos

    2012-11-01

    Bothrops andianus is a venomous snake found in the area of Machu Picchu (Peru). Its venom is not included in the antigenic pool used for production of the Peruvian anti-bothropic anti-venom. B. andianus venom can elicit many biological effects such as hemorrhage, hemolysis, proteolytic activity and lethality. The Peruvian anti-bothropic anti-venom displays consistent cross-reactivity with B. andianus venom, by ELISA and Western Blotting and is also effective in neutralizing the venom's toxic activities.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2009-07-01

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

  11. 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

  12. Scorpion venoms in gastric cancer

    PubMed Central

    Zhang, Xiao-Ying; Zhang, Pei-Ying

    2016-01-01

    Venom secretions from snakes, scorpions, spiders and bees, have been widely applied in traditional medicine and current biopharmaceutical research. Possession of anticancer potential is another novel discovery for animal venoms and toxins. An increasing number of studies have shown the anticancer effects of venoms and toxins of snakes, and scorpions in vitro and in vivo, which were achieved mainly through the inhibition of cancer growth, arrest of cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and suppression of cancer metastasis. However, more evidence is needed to support this concept and the mechanisms of anticancer actions are not clearly understood. The present review is focused on the recant updates on anticancer venom research. PMID:27900054

  13. The immunoglobulin heavy chain locus in the reptile Anolis carolinensis.

    PubMed

    Gambón Deza, Francisco; Sánchez Espinel, Christian; Magadán Mompó, Susana

    2009-05-01

    We describe the entire immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus from the reptile Anolis carolinensis. The heavy chain constant (C(H)) region includes C mu, C delta and C upsilon genes. This is the first description of a C upsilon gene in the reptilian class. Variable (V(H)), diversity (D(H)) and joining (J(H)) genes are located 5' from the constant (C(H)) chain complex locus. The C mu and C upsilon genes encode antibodies with four immunoglobulin domains. The C delta gene encoded an 11 domain delta heavy chain as in Eublepharis macularius. Seventy V(H) genes, belonging to 28 families, were identified, and they can be sorted into five broader groups. The similarity of the organization of the reptilian genes with those of amphibians and mammals suggests the existence of a process of heavy chain genomic reorganization before the radiation of tetrapod vertebrates.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. [Insect venom allergies].

    PubMed

    Przybilla, Bernhard; Ruëff, Franziska

    2003-10-01

    Systemic IgE-mediated immediate type reactions (anaphylaxis) due to honeybee or vespid stings are potentially life-threatening; they are reported in up to 5% of the general population. Insect venom allergy is diagnosed by history, skin testing and measurement of insect venom-specific serum IgE; sometimes additional tests are needed. The diagnosis is based on the history of a systemic allergic immediate type sting reaction, without such a medical history any other "positive" test results are irrelevant. Nearly always, patients with systemic allergic sting reactions can be protected from further episodes of anaphylaxis by a carefully performed hyposensitization (specific immunotherapy). If therapeutic efficacy has been proven by tolerance of a re-sting, hyposensitization can be frequently stopped after 3 to 5 years. Patients with a particular risk of frequent re-stings or of very severe sting reactions may have to be treated for a longer time, some of them even life-long.

  17. 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.

  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. 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

  20. A perspective on toxicology of Conus venom peptides.

    PubMed

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

    2015-05-01

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

  1. 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

  2. A rapidly diverging superfamily of peptide toxins in venomous Gemmula species.

    PubMed

    Heralde, Francisco M; Imperial, Julita; Bandyopadhyay, Pradip K; Olivera, Baldomero M; Concepcion, Gisela P; Santos, Ameurfina D

    2008-04-01

    The gem turrids (genus Gemmula Weinkauff, 1875) are venomous snails in the family Turridae. A gene superfamily of disulfide-rich peptides expressed in Gemmula venom ducts was characterized. Gemmula speciosa (Reeve, 1843) venom duct cDNA clones revealed two different conotoxin-like prepropeptide precursors, with identical signal sequences, a largely conserved pro region, and a cysteine-rich C-terminal mature peptide region. The conserved signal sequence was used to successfully amplify homologous genes from three other Gemmula species; all had the same pattern of Cys residues in the predicted mature venom peptide. Although the signal sequence and propeptide regions were highly conserved, the mature toxin regions diverged greatly in sequence, except that the Cys residues were conserved. We designate this as the Pg-gene superfamily (Pg-superfamily) of Gemmula venom peptides. Purification of two members of the family directly from G. speciosa venom was achieved; amino acid sequence analysis revealed that these peptides are highly posttranslationally modified. With at least 10-fold as many species of turrids as cone snails, identification of rapidly diversifying gene superfamilies such as the Pg-superfamily of Gemmula is essential before the facile and systematic discovery and characterization of peptide toxins from turrid venoms can be achieved.

  3. Estivation in South American amphibians and reptiles.

    PubMed

    Abe, A S

    1995-01-01

    A number of amphibians and reptiles have cyclic behavior, becoming inactive with the coming of the dry season. In South America this pattern of activity is common, particularly in savannah-like vegetation. During the dry season amphibians burrow into the mud or soil, and either form a cocoon or increase the osmotic concentration of body fluids to reduce evaporative water loss. Some phyllomedusid tree frogs coat their body surface with skin secretion and excrete uric acid to minimize water loss. Reptiles also retreat into shelter deep enough to avoid temperature fluctuation during estivation or reduce metabolic response to temperature. Reduction of temperature sensitivity of the metabolism seems to be a strategy common to estivating amphibians and reptiles. Despite seasonal change of the environment, some species of reptiles are active all year round.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  5. 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.

  6. Molecular cloning of natriuretic peptides from the heart of reptiles: loss of ANP in diapsid reptiles and birds.

    PubMed

    Trajanovska, Sofie; Donald, John A

    2008-04-01

    Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and B-type NP (BNP) are hormones involved in homeostatic control of body fluid and cardiovascular regulation. Both ANP and BNP have been cloned from the heart of mammals, amphibians, and teleost fishes, while an additional cardiac peptide, ventricular NP, has been found in selected species of teleost fish. However, in chicken, BNP is the primary cardiac peptide identified thus far. In contrast, the types of NP/s present in the reptilian heart are unknown, representing a considerable gap in our understanding of NP evolution. In the present study, we cloned and sequenced a BNP cDNA from the atria of representative species of reptile, including crocodile, lizard, snake, and tortoise. In addition, we cloned BNP from the pigeon atria. The reptilian and pigeon BNP cDNAs had ATTTA repeats in the 3' untranslated region, as observed in all vertebrate BNP mRNAs. A high sequence homology was evident when comparing reptile and pigeon preproBNP with the previously identified chicken preproBNP. In particular, the predicted mature BNP-29 was identical between crocodile, tortoise, and chicken, with pigeon having a single amino acid substitution; lizard and snake BNP had seven and nine substitutions, respectively. Furthermore, an ANP cDNA could only be cloned from the tortoise atria. Since ANP was not isolated from the heart of any non-chelonian reptile and appears to be absent in birds, we propose that the ANP gene has been lost after branching of the turtles in the amniote line. This data provides new avenues for research on NP function in reptiles.

  7. Placental specializations in lecithotrophic viviparous squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

    Stewart, James R

    2015-09-01

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

  8. Venom proteins from endoparasitoid wasps and their role in host-parasite interactions.

    PubMed

    Asgari, Sassan; Rivers, David B

    2011-01-01

    Endoparasitoids introduce a variety of factors into their host during oviposition to ensure successful parasitism. These include ovarian and venom fluids that may be accompanied by viruses and virus-like particles. An overwhelming number of venom components are enzymes with similarities to insect metabolic enzymes, suggesting their recruitment for expression in venom glands with modified functions. Other components include protease inhibitors, paralytic factors, and constituents that facilitate/enhance entry and expression of genes from symbiotic viruses or virus-like particles. In addition, the venom gland may itself support replication/production of some viruses or virus-like entities. Overlapping functions and structural similarities of some venom, ovarian, and virus-encoded proteins suggest coevolution of molecules recruited by endoparasitoids to maintain their fitness relative to their host.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2007-01-01

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

  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. Scorpion venom components that affect ion-channels function

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

  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. Deciphering the Venomic Transcriptome of Killer-Wasp Vespa velutina

    PubMed Central

    Liu, Zhirui; Chen, Shuanggang; Zhou, You; Xie, Cuihong; Zhu, Bifeng; Zhu, Huming; Liu, Shupeng; Wang, Wei; Chen, Hongzhuan; Ji, Yonghua

    2015-01-01

    Wasp stings have been arising to be a severe public health problem in China in recent years. However, molecular information about lethal or toxic factors in wasp venom is extremely lacking. In this study, we used two pyrosequencing platforms to analyze the transcriptome of Vespa velutina, the most common wasp species native in China. Besides the substantial amount of transcripts encoding for allergens usually regarded as the major lethal factor of wasp sting, a greater abundance of hemostasis-impairing toxins and neurotoxins in the venom of V. velutina were identified, implying that toxic reactions and allergic effects are envenoming strategy for the dangerous outcomes. The pattern of differentially expressed genes before and after venom extraction clearly indicates that the manifestation of V. velutina stings depends on subtle regulations in the metabolic pathway required for toxin recruitment. This comparative analysis offers timely clues for developing clinical treatments for wasp envenoming in China and around the world. PMID:25896434

  16. Deciphering the venomic transcriptome of killer-wasp Vespa velutina.

    PubMed

    Liu, Zhirui; Chen, Shuanggang; Zhou, You; Xie, Cuihong; Zhu, Bifeng; Zhu, Huming; Liu, Shupeng; Wang, Wei; Chen, Hongzhuan; Ji, Yonghua

    2015-04-23

    Wasp stings have been arising to be a severe public health problem in China in recent years. However, molecular information about lethal or toxic factors in wasp venom is extremely lacking. In this study, we used two pyrosequencing platforms to analyze the transcriptome of Vespa velutina, the most common wasp species native in China. Besides the substantial amount of transcripts encoding for allergens usually regarded as the major lethal factor of wasp sting, a greater abundance of hemostasis-impairing toxins and neurotoxins in the venom of V. velutina were identified, implying that toxic reactions and allergic effects are envenoming strategy for the dangerous outcomes. The pattern of differentially expressed genes before and after venom extraction clearly indicates that the manifestation of V. velutina stings depends on subtle regulations in the metabolic pathway required for toxin recruitment. This comparative analysis offers timely clues for developing clinical treatments for wasp envenoming in China and around the world.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Comparative venom gland transcriptomics of Naja kaouthia (monocled cobra) from Malaysia and Thailand: elucidating geographical venom variation and insights into sequence novelty

    PubMed Central

    Chanhome, Lawan; Tan, Nget Hong

    2017-01-01

    Background The monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia) is a medically important venomous snake in Southeast Asia. Its venom has been shown to vary geographically in relation to venom composition and neurotoxic activity, indicating vast diversity of the toxin genes within the species. To investigate the polygenic trait of the venom and its locale-specific variation, we profiled and compared the venom gland transcriptomes of N. kaouthia from Malaysia (NK-M) and Thailand (NK-T) applying next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology. Methods The transcriptomes were sequenced on the Illumina HiSeq platform, assembled and followed by transcript clustering and annotations for gene expression and function. Pairwise or multiple sequence alignments were conducted on the toxin genes expressed. Substitution rates were studied for the major toxins co-expressed in NK-M and NK-T. Results and discussion The toxin transcripts showed high redundancy (41–82% of the total mRNA expression) and comprised 23 gene families expressed in NK-M and NK-T, respectively (22 gene families were co-expressed). Among the venom genes, three-finger toxins (3FTxs) predominated in the expression, with multiple sequences noted. Comparative analysis and selection study revealed that 3FTxs are genetically conserved between the geographical specimens whilst demonstrating distinct differential expression patterns, implying gene up-regulation for selected principal toxins, or alternatively, enhanced transcript degradation or lack of transcription of certain traits. One of the striking features that elucidates the inter-geographical venom variation is the up-regulation of α-neurotoxins (constitutes ∼80.0% of toxin’s fragments per kilobase of exon model per million mapped reads (FPKM)), particularly the long-chain α-elapitoxin-Nk2a (48.3%) in NK-T but only 1.7% was noted in NK-M. Instead, short neurotoxin isoforms were up-regulated in NK-M (46.4%). Another distinct transcriptional pattern observed is the

  20. 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

  1. The venom composition of the parasitic wasp Chelonus inanitus resolved by combined expressed sequence tags analysis and proteomic approach

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background Parasitic wasps constitute one of the largest group of venomous animals. Although some physiological effects of their venoms are well documented, relatively little is known at the molecular level on the protein composition of these secretions. To identify the majority of the venom proteins of the endoparasitoid wasp Chelonus inanitus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), we have randomly sequenced 2111 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from a cDNA library of venom gland. In parallel, proteins from pure venom were separated by gel electrophoresis and individually submitted to a nano-LC-MS/MS analysis allowing comparison of peptides and ESTs sequences. Results About 60% of sequenced ESTs encoded proteins whose presence in venom was attested by mass spectrometry. Most of the remaining ESTs corresponded to gene products likely involved in the transcriptional and translational machinery of venom gland cells. In addition, a small number of transcripts were found to encode proteins that share sequence similarity with well-known venom constituents of social hymenopteran species, such as hyaluronidase-like proteins and an Allergen-5 protein. An overall number of 29 venom proteins could be identified through the combination of ESTs sequencing and proteomic analyses. The most highly redundant set of ESTs encoded a protein that shared sequence similarity with a venom protein of unknown function potentially specific of the Chelonus lineage. Venom components specific to C. inanitus included a C-type lectin domain containing protein, a chemosensory protein-like protein, a protein related to yellow-e3 and ten new proteins which shared no significant sequence similarity with known sequences. In addition, several venom proteins potentially able to interact with chitin were also identified including a chitinase, an imaginal disc growth factor-like protein and two putative mucin-like peritrophins. Conclusions The use of the combined approaches has allowed to discriminate between cellular

  2. Polypeptide toxins from animal venoms.

    PubMed

    Kozlov, Sergey A

    2007-01-01

    In the course of evolution, venomous animals developed highly specialized venomous systems that provided for drastic increase in hunting and defense efficiency. Venoms of a vast number of animal species represent complex mixtures of compounds such as ions, biogenic amines, polyamines, polypeptide neurotoxins, cytolytic peptides, enzymes, etc. that exert different functions. Natural toxins are sequentially variable molecules that are very stable structurally and produce pronounced biological effects on molecular targets. High activity made them very attractive in terms of novel structure discovery and characterization. In the present review we draw attention to the structure of polypeptide molecules preferably in the 2-12 kDa molecular mass range produced by various venomous animals that were published in patent literature. The structures were reviewed on the basis of functional relation to molecular targets. We also compared the sequence information from patents with Uniprot and other protein databanks to define structures that were patented but missing from the public databases.

  3. IgD in the reptile leopard gecko.

    PubMed

    Gambón-Deza, Francisco; Espinel, Christian Sánchez

    2008-07-01

    Immunoglobulin D (IgD) has been a mysterious antibody ever since it was discovered in mammals 40 years ago. It shares with IgM the role of antigen-receptor in the membrane of mature B cells. The absence of IgD in birds and its description in bony fishes contributed to the confusion about its evolutionary origins. Recent studies have established the presence of IgD in the amphibian Xenopus tropicalis. It is essential to study IgD genes in reptiles in order to better understand the evolution of this immunoglobulin in vertebrates. We describe in this report the IgM and IgD genes of the reptile Eublepharis macularius. The IgM gene has characteristics that are similar to those described in other species whereas IgD gene departs from the normal structure described for this antibody class in other species. It is made up of 11 immunoglobulins domains without evidence of recent intragenic duplications of exons as described in IgD genes of fish and X.tropicalis. It is possible that the immunoglobulin is comprised of domains inherited from earlier species and that this form of IgD is close to that present in animals that left the sea to live on land. Furthermore, domains CH7 and CH8 of E. macularius IgD are orthologues to domains CH2 and CH3 of mammalian IgD. The present study also describes a second IgD (IgD2) which must have appeared recently by duplication of an older immunoglobulin gene and recombination with the IgA-like gene described in this specie. Tissue expression of IgD and IgD2 mRNA is similar to that of IgM mRNA, suggesting a functional role of reptilian IgD.

  4. 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

  5. Common procedures in reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    de la Navarre, Byron J S

    2006-05-01

    Reptiles and amphibians continue to be popular as pets in the United States and throughout the world. It therefore behooves veterinarians interested in caring for these exotic species to continually gather knowledge concerning both their proper husbandry and the conditions that require medical and/or surgical intervention. This article covers husbandry, physical examination, and clinical and diagnostic techniques in an effort to present guidelines for the evaluation of the reptile or amphibian patient. Gathering clinical data will aid veterinarians in arriving at the proper diagnosis,increasing the chances of success with treatment protocols, and educating the clients in proper nutrition and husbandry for their pets.

  6. How the venom from the ectoparasitoid Wasp nasonia vitripennis exhibits anti-inflammatory properties on mammalian cell lines.

    PubMed

    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.

  7. 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

  8. 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…

  9. 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.

  10. The pharmacological activity of fish venoms.

    PubMed

    Church, Jarrod E; Hodgson, Wayne C

    2002-08-01

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

  11. 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...

  12. 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...

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. Heat shock protein expression enhances heat tolerance of reptile embryos.

    PubMed

    Gao, Jing; Zhang, Wen; Dang, Wei; Mou, Yi; Gao, Yuan; Sun, Bao-Jun; Du, Wei-Guo

    2014-09-22

    The role of heat shock proteins (HSPs) in heat tolerance has been demonstrated in cultured cells and animal tissues, but rarely in whole organisms because of methodological difficulties associated with gene manipulation. By comparing HSP70 expression patterns among representative species of reptiles and birds, and by determining the effect of HSP70 overexpression on embryonic development and hatchling traits, we have identified the role of HSP70 in the heat tolerance of amniote embryos. Consistent with their thermal environment, and high incubation temperatures and heat tolerance, the embryos of birds have higher onset and maximum temperatures for induced HSP70 than do reptiles, and turtles have higher onset and maximum temperatures than do lizards. Interestingly, the trade-off between benefits and costs of HSP70 overexpression occurred between life-history stages: when turtle embryos developed at extreme high temperatures, HSP70 overexpression generated benefits by enhancing embryo heat tolerance and hatching success, but subsequently imposed costs by decreasing heat tolerance of surviving hatchlings. Taken together, the correlative and causal links between HSP70 and heat tolerance provide, to our knowledge, the first unequivocal evidence that HSP70 promotes thermal tolerance of embryos in oviparous amniotes.

  16. 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

  17. Tropical marine neurotoxins: venoms to drugs.

    PubMed

    Watters, Michael R

    2005-09-01

    Neurotoxic venoms are common among tropical marine creatures, which have specialized apparatuses for delivery of the venoms. These include jellyfish and anemones, venomous cone snails, venomous fish, stingrays, sea snakes, and venomous octopuses. Numerous toxic neuropeptides are found within these venoms, and some can discriminate between closely related intracellular targets, a characteristic that makes them useful to define cation channels and attractive for drug development. A synthetic derivative of an omega-conotoxin is now available, representing a new class of analgesics. In general, toxic marine venoms contain proteins that are heat labile, providing opportunity for therapeutic intervention following envenomation, while ingestible seafood toxins are thermostable toxins. Ingestible toxins found in the tropics include those associated with reef fish, pufferfish, and some shellfish, which serve as food-chain vectors for toxins produced by marine microorganisms.

  18. 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.

  19. Hymenoptera venom allergy in humans.

    PubMed

    Cichocka-Jarosz, Ewa

    2012-01-01

    Reactions to Hymenoptera stings may appear as local or systemic responses. According to European data, the incidence of systemic reactions to Hymenoptera stings in the general population is 0.3-7.5%, with the value being 0.3-0.8% in children and 14-43% in beekeepers. The most common systemic allergic (anaphylactic) reactions are caused by honeybees (Apis mellifera), and certain species of wasps in the family Vespidae. Severe generalized immediate-type allergic (anaphylactic) reactions to insect stings are of the highest clinical importance. They affect skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and cardiovascular system. The classification of severity of anaphylactic reaction following insect stings is based on the 4-grade Mueller scale. Crucial in patomechanism of anaphylaxis are specific IgE antibodies directed against the components of the venom, which mediate the activation of mast cells, the main effector cells of anaphylaxis. Therapeutic management in insect venom allergy should be considered in the context of prophylaxis, intervention in case symptoms develop, prevention in the form of venom specific immunotherapy (VIT). There are two steps of VIT 1. Initial dose venom immunotherapy (given according to four protocols which differ the time to reach the maintenance dose) 2. Maintenance dose VIT, usually equal 100 µg. Standard treatment time should span 3-5 years. The main mechanisms of immune tolerance that are initiated by VIT are associated with: 1. a decreased reactivity of effector cells, 2. expansion of T regulatory lymphocytes with IL-10 expression. Therapeutic effectiveness amounts to 90-100% in wasp venom allergy and approximately 80% in bee venom allergy.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Toxicity of crude and detoxified Tityus serrulatus venom in anti-venom-producing sheep

    PubMed Central

    Ferreira, Marina G.; Duarte, Clara G.; Oliveira, Maira S.; Castro, Karen L. P.; Teixeira, Maílson S.; Reis, Lílian P. G.; Zambrano, José A.; Kalapothakis, Evanguedes; Michel, Ana Flávia R. M.; Soto-Blanco, Benito; Chávez-Olórtegui, Carlos

    2016-01-01

    Specific anti-venom used to treat scorpion envenomation is usually obtained from horses after hyperimmunization with crude scorpion venom. However, immunized animals often become ill because of the toxic effects of the immunogens used. This study was conducted to evaluate the toxic and immunogenic activities of crude and detoxified Tityus serrulatus (Ts) venom in sheep during the production of anti-scorpionic anti-venom. Sheep were categorized into three groups: G1, control, immunized with buffer only; G2, immunized with crude Ts venom; and G3, immunized with glutaraldehyde-detoxified Ts venom. All animals were subjected to clinical exams and supplementary tests. G2 sheep showed mild clinical changes, but the other groups tolerated the immunization program well. Specific antibodies generated in animals immunized with either Ts crude venom or glutaraldehyde-detoxified Ts venom recognized the crude Ts venom in both assays. To evaluate the lethality neutralization potential of the produced sera, individual serum samples were pre-incubated with Ts crude venom, then subcutaneously injected into mice. Efficient immune protection of 56.3% and 43.8% against Ts crude venom was observed in G2 and G3, respectively. Overall, the results of this study support the use of sheep and glutaraldehyde-detoxified Ts venom for alternative production of specific anti-venom. PMID:27297422

  3. 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

    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

    2016-10-18

    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 venomous

  4. Quantitative abilities in a reptile (Podarcis sicula).

    PubMed

    Miletto Petrazzini, Maria Elena; Fraccaroli, Isabel; Gariboldi, Francesco; Agrillo, Christian; Bisazza, Angelo; Bertolucci, Cristiano; Foà, Augusto

    2017-04-01

    The ability to identify the largest amount of prey available is fundamental for optimizing foraging behaviour in several species. To date, this cognitive skill has been observed in all vertebrate groups except reptiles. In this study we investigated the spontaneous ability of ruin lizards to select the larger amount of food items. In Experiment 1, lizards proved able to select the larger food item when presented with two alternatives differing in size (0.25, 0.50, 0.67 and 0.75 ratio). In Experiment 2 lizards presented with two groups of food items (1 versus 4, 2 versus 4, 2 versus 3 and 3 versus 4 items) were unable to select the larger group in any contrast. The lack of discrimination in the presence of multiple items represents an exception in numerical cognition studies, raising the question as to whether reptiles' quantitative abilities are different from those of other vertebrate groups.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. DISC ELECTROPHORESIS OF HYMENOPTERA VENOMS AND BODY PROTEINS.

    PubMed

    O'CONNOR, R; ROSENBROOK, W; ERICKSON, R

    1964-09-18

    The venom proteins of honey bee, Polistes wasp, yellow hornet, and yellow jacket are similar but not identical. Extracts of venom sacs and whole insects contain several proteins not found in the pure venoms.

  8. 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.

  9. 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).

  10. 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

  11. Colubrid Venom Composition: An -Omics Perspective.

    PubMed

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

    2016-07-23

    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.

  12. Genetic Diversity of Cryptosporidium spp. in Captive Reptiles

    PubMed Central

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

    2004-01-01

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

  13. Genetic diversity of Cryptosporidium spp. in captive reptiles.

    PubMed

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

    2004-02-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. Correlating molecular phylogeny with venom apparatus occurrence in Panamic auger snails (Terebridae).

    PubMed

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

    2009-11-05

    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.

  18. Speciation of cone snails and interspecific hyperdivergence of their venom peptides. Potential evolutionary significance of introns.

    PubMed

    Olivera, B M; Walker, C; Cartier, G E; Hooper, D; Santos, A D; Schoenfeld, R; Shetty, R; Watkins, M; Bandyopadhyay, P; Hillyard, D R

    1999-05-18

    All 500 species of cone snails (Conus) are venomous predators. From a biochemical/genetic perspective, differences among Conus species may be based on the 50-200 different peptides in the venom of each species. Venom is used for prey capture as well as for interactions with predators and competitors. The venom of every species has its own distinct complement of peptides. Some of the interspecific divergence observed in venom peptides can be explained by differential expression of venom peptide superfamilies in different species and of peptide superfamily branching in various Conus lineages into pharmacologic groups with different targeting specificity. However, the striking interspecific divergence of peptide sequences is the dominant factor in the differences observed between venoms. The small venom peptides (typically 10-35 amino acids in length) are processed from larger prepropeptide precursors (ca. 100 amino acids). If interspecific comparisons are made between homologous prepropeptides, the three different regions of a Conus peptide precursor (signal sequence, pro-region, mature peptide) are found to have diverged at remarkably different rates. Analysis of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitution rates for the different segments of a prepropeptide suggests that mutation frequency varies by over an order of magnitude across the segments, with the mature toxin region undergoing the highest rate. The three sections of the prepropeptide which exhibit apparently different mutation rates are separated by introns. This striking segment-specific rate of divergence of Conus prepropeptides suggests a role for introns in evolution: exons separated by introns have the potential to evolve very different mutation rates. Plausible mechanisms that could underlie differing mutational frequency in the different exons of a gene are discussed.

  19. Molecular mechanisms of TSD in reptiles: a search for the magic bullet.

    PubMed

    Spotila, J R; Spotila, L D; Kaufer, N F

    1994-09-15

    Significant progress has been made in understanding mechanisms of genetic sex determination. The ZFY gene encodes a zinc finger protein but is not the primary signal in sex determination. The SRY gene is the testis determining gene in man, mouse, rabbit, and probably marsupial mouse and wallaby. Temperature dependent sex determination probably involves a modification of development of the indifferent gonad due to differential expression of one or more specific DNA sequences whose behavior is controlled by some temperature sensitive process or to differential action of a gene product such as a protein. There are ZFY and SRY-like genes in reptiles. We cloned and sequenced a portion of the ZFY gene (Zft) from snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) that is found in both sexes. We cloned and sequenced portions of SRY-like genes (Sra for SRY-related-autosomal) from snapping turtle. Similar genes are found in alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and lizards. Cladistic analysis suggests that there are two or three major families of SRY-like genes in vertebrates in addition to sex specific SRY genes located on the Y chromosome of eutherian and marsupial mammals. When placed on a phylogenetic tree these data indicate that Sras were present in early tetrapods. Sequestering of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome probably happened only once and this may have been the defining moment that set the mammalian line of Therapsid reptiles apart from other reptilian groups.

  20. 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.

  1. [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.

  2. Ichthyotoxicity caused by marine cone snail venoms?

    PubMed

    Mebs, Dietrich; Kauferstein, Silke

    2005-09-01

    Ten venoms from marine cone snails were tested for ichthyotoxic effects on zebra fish (Brachydanio rerio) when added to the water. Only two venoms, from Conus capitaneus and Conus episcopatus, produced lethal effects at high concentrations (50-300 microg/ml) within 20-90 min. No sedative or hypnotic symptoms were observed. The experiments confirm that Conus venoms exert a quick and prompt activity only by parenteral injection into the prey as it is performed by the snail.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

    2016-01-20

    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.

  7. Snake venom toxins: toxicity and medicinal applications.

    PubMed

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

    2016-07-01

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

  8. Exploring the therapeutic potential of jellyfish venom.

    PubMed

    Daly, Norelle L; Seymour, Jamie; Wilson, David

    2014-10-01

    The venom of certain jellyfish has long been known to be potentially fatal to humans, but it is only recently that details of the proteomes of these fascinating creatures are emerging. The molecular contents of the nematocysts from several jellyfish species have now been analyzed using proteomic MS approaches and include the analysis of Chironex fleckeri, one of the most venomous jellyfish known. These studies suggest that some species contain toxins related to peptides and proteins found in other venomous creatures. The detailed characterization of jellyfish venom is likely to provide insight into the diversification of toxins and might be a valuable resource in drug design.

  9. 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.

  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. 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

  12. Energy and nutrient utilisation by embryonic reptiles.

    PubMed

    Thompson, Michael B; Speake, Brian K

    2002-11-01

    Most reptiles are oviparous, with the developing embryos relying on the contents of the yolk to sustain development until hatching (lecithotrophy). The yolk is composed primarily of lipid and protein, which act as an energy source and the essential components to build embryonic tissue. Nevertheless, yolk and the resulting embryos contain many other nutrients, including inorganic ions, vitamins, carotenoids, water and hormones. Apart from water and oxygen, which may be taken up by eggs, and some inorganic ions that can come from the eggshell or even from outside the egg, everything required by the embryo must be in the egg when it is laid. Approximately 20% of squamate reptiles are viviparous, exhibiting a variety of placental complexities. Species with complex placentae have reduced yolk volumes, with the mother augmenting embryonic nutrition by provision across the placenta (placentotrophy). Despite assumed advantages of placentotrophy, only 5 out of approximately 100 lineages of viviparous squamates exhibit substantial placentotrophy. This paper reviews available and recent information on the yolk contents of a variety of squamate reptiles to ask the question, how are nutrients transported from the yolk to the embryo or across the placenta? Although, current available data suggest that, in broad terms, yolk is taken up by embryos without discrimination of the nutrients, there are some apparent exceptions, including the very long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. In addition, fundamental differences in the patterns of energy utilisation in lizards and snakes suggest fundamental differences in lipid profiles in these taxa, which appear to reflect the differences between placentotrophic and lecithotrophic viviparous lizards.

  13. 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.

  14. Pharmacological action of Australian animal venoms.

    PubMed

    Hodgson, W C

    1997-01-01

    1. Australia has some of the most venomous fauna in the world. Although humans are not usually perceived as being predators against these animals they are often envenomated, accidentally or otherwise. This has led to the development of antivenoms against some of the potentially lethal venoms. However, further understanding of the mechanism(s) of action of these and other venoms is important, not only for developing new treatment strategies but also in the search for novel research tools. 2. The present review discusses the pharmacology of some of the components found in venoms and outlines the research undertaken on some of Australia's venomous animals, with the exception of snakes. 3. Biogenic amines, peptides and enzymes are common venom components and produce a wide range of effects in envenomated humans. For example, respiratory failure observed after envenomation by the box jellyfish (Chirnex fleckeri) and Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) is most likely due to potent neurotoxins in the venoms. Stonefish (Synanceja trachynis) and platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) venoms, although not considered lethal, cause severe pain. However, the components responsible for these effects have not been isolated. Venom components, as yet unidentified, may be responsible for the cutaneous necrotic lesions that have been reported after some spider bites (e.g. Lampona cylindrata). Other venoms, such as those of the jumper ant (Myrmecia pilosula) and bull ant (M. pyriformis), may produce only mild skin irritation to the majority of humans but a severe anaphylactic response in sensitized victims. 4. While there has been a renewed interest in toxinology, further research is required to fully elucidate the pharmacological action of many of these venoms.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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…

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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)).

  5. 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.

  6. Angiotensin converting enzymes in fish venom.

    PubMed

    Dos Santos, Dávida Maria Ribeiro Cardoso; de Souza, Cledson Barros; Pereira, Hugo Juarez Vieira

    2017-06-01

    Animal venoms are multifaceted mixtures, including proteins, peptides and enzymes produced by animals in defense, predation and digestion. These molecules have been investigated concerning their molecular mechanisms associated and possible pharmacological applications. Thalassophryne nattereri is a small venomous fish inhabiting the northern and northeastern coast of Brazil, and represents a relatively frequent cause of injuries. Its venom causes severe inflammatory response followed frequently by the necrosis of the affected area. Scorpaena plumieri is the most venomous fish in the Brazilian fauna and is responsible for relatively frequent accidents involving anglers and bathers. In humans, its venom causes edema, erythema, ecchymoses, nausea, vomiting, and syncope. Recently, the presence of a type of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity in the venom of Thalassophryne nattereri and Scorpaena plumieri, endemic fishes in northeastern coast of Brazil, has been described. The ACE converts angiotensin I (Ang I) into angiotensin II (Ang II) and inactivates bradykinin, there by regulating blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis, however, their function in these venoms remains an unknown. This article provides an overview of the current knowledge on ACE in the venoms of Thalassophryne nattereri and Scorpaena plumier.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. [Bites of venomous snakes in Switzerland].

    PubMed

    Plate, Andreas; Kupferschmidt, Hugo; Schneemann, Markus

    2016-06-08

    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.

  12. Venom: the sharp end of pain therapeutics.

    PubMed

    Trim, Steven A; Trim, Carol M

    2013-11-01

    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.

  13. 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

  14. IgE antibodies to bee venom, phospholipase A, melittin and wasp venom.

    PubMed

    Jarisch, R; Yman, L; Boltz, A; Sandor, I; Janitsch, A

    1979-09-01

    Specific IgE antibodies against bee venom, phospholipase A, melittin and wasp venom have been examined in fifty patients with an unusually severe reaction after bee or wasp sting. Two thirds of the bee venom-sensitive patients also have detectable IgE antibodies to wasp venom. More than 50% of the wasp venom-sensitive patients are also allergic to bee venom. Phospholipase A and melittin IgE antibodies were found, respectively, in two thirds and one third of the bee venom-sensitive cases. Specific IgE antibody determinations by the Radioallergosorbent test play an essential role in the diagnostic work. After a reaction to hymenoptera stings both bee and wasp venom tests are necessary due to the high incidence of a false or incomplete identification of the stinging insect. Melittin, known for its potent pharmacological activity and possibly responsible for most of the side effects in bee venom immunotherapy, can probably not be excluded from therapeutic venom preparations since IgE antibodies to the melittin preparation were detected in one third of the cases.

  15. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-01-01

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Analysis of Reptile Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services within ...

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    A focus for resource management, conservation planning, and environmental decision analysis has been mapping and quantifying biodiversity and ecosystem services. The challenge has been to integrate ecology with economics to better understand the effects of human policies and actions and their subsequent impacts on human well-being and ecosystem function. Biodiversity is valued by humans in varied ways, and thus is an important input to include in assessing the benefits of ecosystems to humans. Some biodiversity metrics more clearly reflect ecosystem services (e.g., game species, threatened and endangered species), whereas others may indicate indirect and difficult to quantify relationships to services (e.g., taxa richness and cultural value). In the present study, we identify and map reptile biodiversity and ecosystem services metrics. The importance of reptiles to biodiversity and ecosystems services is not often described. We used species distribution models for reptiles in the conterminous United States from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program. We focus on species richness metrics including all reptile species richness, taxa groupings of lizards, snakes and turtles, NatureServe conservation status (G1, G2, G3) species, IUCN listed reptiles, threatened and endangered species, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation listed reptiles, and rare species. These metrics were analyzed with the Protected Areas Database of the United States to

  20. 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.).

  1. 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.

  2. Live birth in an archosauromorph reptile

    PubMed Central

    Liu, Jun; Organ, Chris L.; Benton, Michael J.; Brandley, Matthew C.; Aitchison, Jonathan C.

    2017-01-01

    Live birth has evolved many times independently in vertebrates, such as mammals and diverse groups of lizards and snakes. However, live birth is unknown in the major clade Archosauromorpha, a group that first evolved some 260 million years ago and is represented today by birds and crocodilians. Here we report the discovery of a pregnant long-necked marine reptile (Dinocephalosaurus) from the Middle Triassic (∼245 million years ago) of southwest China showing live birth in archosauromorphs. Our discovery pushes back evidence of reproductive biology in the clade by roughly 50 million years, and shows that there is no fundamental reason that archosauromorphs could not achieve live birth. Our phylogenetic models indicate that Dinocephalosaurus determined the sex of their offspring by sex chromosomes rather than by environmental temperature like crocodilians. Our results provide crucial evidence for genotypic sex determination facilitating land-water transitions in amniotes. PMID:28195584

  3. Oral, dental, and beak disorders of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Mehler, Stephen J; Bennett, R Avery

    2003-09-01

    Each species of reptile has evolved unique characteristics that are associated with their oral cavity, dentition, tongue, glands, and methods of mastication. These developments have provided each with an opportunity to interact with their surroundings. In captivity, the developmental relationship is often severed by the introduction of artificial surroundings and inappropriate husbandry. These changes predispose the animals to many stresses and disorders. Disorders of the oral cavity are often a representation of what is occurring systemically. Bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, neoplastic, and nutritional causes of disorders of the oral cavity in reptilian species are probably underestimated and likely cause a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality than has been reported. The misinformation that clients receive regarding husbandry may directly correlate with the frequency of oral diseases seen in a clinical setting. Prevention of disease of the oral cavity is primarily through providing appropriate environmental conditions and diet.

  4. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-11-01

    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.

  6. Marine reptiles from the Late Cretaceous of northern Patagonia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gasparini, Z.; Casadio, S.; Fernández, M.; Salgado, L.

    2001-04-01

    During the Campanian-Maastrichtian, Patagonia was flooded by the Atlantic and reduced to an archipelago. Several localities of northern Patagonia have yielded marine reptiles. Analysis of several assemblages suggests that the diversity and abundance of pelagic marine reptiles in northern Patagonia was higher by the end of the Cretaceous than previously thought. Several plesiosaurids, including Aristonectes parvidens and the polycotylid Sulcusuchus, and the first remains of mosasaurinae have been found. The Cretaceous marine reptile record from South America is scanty. Nevertheless, materials described here suggest that Tethyan and Weddelian forms converged in northern Patagonia, as seen with invertebrates.

  7. Organochlorine pesticides in squamate reptiles from southern Arizona, USA.

    PubMed

    Weir, Scott M; Dobrovolny, Marianne; Torres, Chelsea; Torres, Cassie; Goode, Matt; Rainwater, Thomas R; Salice, Christopher J; Anderson, Todd A

    2013-06-01

    Despite recognition of the lack of reptile ecotoxicology data, the taxon remains poorly studied. Contaminant body burdens are useful in demonstrating exposures to contaminants do occur and may provide insight regarding risks. The purpose of this study was to determine organochlorine pesticide burdens in various tissues of terrestrial reptiles opportunistically collected in Arizona. Heptachlor, DDE, and endrin were the most common analytes detected in fat samples. Liver samples contained methoxychlor and heptachlor at greater frequency than other organochlorines. Investigations into chronic low-level exposures are rare for reptiles and research is needed to determine critical body residues associated with adverse impacts.

  8. [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.

  9. 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.

  10. [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.

  11. 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.

  12. Cardiovascular-Active Venom Toxins: An Overview.

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  13. Early significant ontogenetic changes in snake venoms.

    PubMed

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

    2015-03-01

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-07-08

    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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Cholinergic antagonists in a solitary wasp venom.

    PubMed

    Piek, T; Mantel, P

    1986-01-01

    The venom of the solitary wasp Philanthus triangulum contains a cholinergic antagonist of the nicotinic receptor of the rectus abdominis muscle of the frog, Xenopus laevis. The venom of African P. triangulum contains two different cholinergic factors, a competitive and a non-competitive antagonist. The venom of the European P. triangulum may not contain a competitive antagonist of the nicotinic receptor of X. laevis, but only a very strong non-competitive antagonist. The possible non-synonymity of both groups of P. triangulum is discussed.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Transitions between sex-determining systems in reptiles and amphibians.

    PubMed

    Sarre, Stephen D; Ezaz, Tariq; Georges, Arthur

    2011-01-01

    Important technological advances in genomics are driving a new understanding of the evolution of sex determination in vertebrates. In particular, comparative chromosome mapping in reptiles has shown an intriguing distribution of homology in sex chromosomes across reptile groups. When this new understanding is combined with the widespread distribution of genetic and temperature-dependent sex-determination mechanisms among reptiles, it is apparent that transitions between modes have occurred many times, as they have for amphibians (particularly between male and female heterogamety). It is also likely that thermosensitivity in sex determination is a key factor in those transitions in reptiles, and possibly in amphibians too. New models of sex determination involving temperature thresholds are providing the framework for the investigation of transitions and making possible key predictions about the homologies and sex-determination patterns expected among taxa in these groups. Molecular cytogenetics and other genomic approaches are essential to providing the fundamental material necessary to make advances in this field.

  8. Ecological venomics: How genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics can shed new light on the ecology and evolution of venom.

    PubMed

    Sunagar, Kartik; Morgenstern, David; Reitzel, Adam M; Moran, Yehu

    2016-03-01

    Animal venom is a complex cocktail of bioactive chemicals that traditionally drew interest mostly from biochemists and pharmacologists. However, in recent years the evolutionary and ecological importance of venom is realized as this trait has direct and strong influence on interactions between species. Moreover, venom content can be modulated by environmental factors. Like many other fields of biology, venom research has been revolutionized in recent years by the introduction of systems biology approaches, i.e., genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. The employment of these methods in venom research is known as 'venomics'. In this review we describe the history and recent advancements of venomics and discuss how they are employed in studying venom in general and in particular in the context of evolutionary ecology. We also discuss the pitfalls and challenges of venomics and what the future may hold for this emerging scientific field.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  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 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2010-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. Bothrops fonsecai snake venom activities and cross-reactivity with commercial bothropic venom.

    PubMed

    Collaço, Rita de Cássia O; Randazzo-Moura, Priscila; Tamascia, Mariana L; da Silva, Igor Rapp F; Rocha, Thalita; Cogo, José C; Hyslop, Stephen; Sanny, Charles G; Rodrigues-Simioni, Léa

    2017-01-01

    In this work, we examined some biochemical and biological activities of Bothrops fonsecai venom, a pitviper endemic to southeastern Brazil, and assessed their neutralization by commercial bothropic antivenom (CAv). Cross-reactivity of venom with CAv was also assessed by immunoblotting and size-exclusion high performance chromatography (SE-HPLC). Bothrops fonsecai venom had PLA2, proteolytic and esterase activities that were neutralized to varying extents by venom:antivenom ratios of 5:1 and 5:2 (PLA2 and esterase activities) or not significantly by either venom:antivenom ratio (proteolytic activity). The minimum hemorrhagic dose (69.2μg) was totally neutralized by both ratios. Clotting time in rat citrated plasma was 33±10.5s (mean±SD; n=5) and was completely neutralized by a 5:2 ratio. Edema formation was dose-dependent (1-30μg/site) and significantly inhibited by both ratios. Venom (10-300μg/mL) caused neuromuscular blockade in extensor digitorum longus preparations; this blockade was inhibited best by a 5:2 ratio. Venom caused myonecrosis and creatine kinase release in vivo (gastrocnemius muscle) and in vitro (extensor digitorum longus) that was effectively neutralized by both venom:antivenom ratios. Immunoblotting showed that venom components of ~25-100kDa interacted with CAv. SE-HPLC profiles for venom incubated with CAv or specific anti-B. fonsecai antivenom raised in rabbits (SAv) indicated that CAv had a higher binding capacity than SAv, whereas SAv had higher affinity than CAv. These findings indicate that B. fonsecai venom contains various activities that are neutralized to different extents by CAv and suggest that CAv could be used to treat envenoming by B. fonsecai.

  1. [Reptile-associated Salmonellosis in Infants in Germany].

    PubMed

    Böhme, H; Fruth, A; Rabsch, W

    2009-01-01

    Salmonellosis is an important disease in childhood. Increasing infections caused by meat and raw egg consumption starts in the second year of life. The transmission from reptiles to infants is an alternative route. Reptile-associated salmonellosis is becoming more significant for pediatricians and microbiologists due to the increasing numbers of household exotic pets. Investigations of routes of infections in connection with the local health authorities including microbiological, serological and molecular biological tests is possible in case of atypical salmonellosis. During recent years (2006-2008) an increasing number of salmonellosis cases caused by reptiles. Most of the 26 patients were infants of less than one year of age. Also Salmonella strains of subspecies II, IIIa, IIIb and IV play an important role. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published recommendations which includes washing hands with soap and water after handling reptiles or the cages and keeping reptiles out of food preparation areas. The CDC has also adviced that children less than five years should not have reptiles as pets.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Venom-based biotoxins as potential analgesics.

    PubMed

    Gazerani, Parisa; Cairns, Brian Edwin

    2014-11-01

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

  5. 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

  6. Deleterious mutations of a claw keratin in multiple taxa of reptiles.

    PubMed

    Dalla Valle, Luisa; Benato, Francesca; Rossi, Chiara; Alibardi, Lorenzo; Tschachler, Erwin; Eckhart, Leopold

    2011-03-01

    We have recently shown that homologs of mammalian hair keratins are expressed in the claws of the green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis. To test whether reptilian hair keratin homologs are functionally associated with claws, we investigated the conservation of the prototypical reptilian hair keratin homolog, hard acidic keratin 1 (HA1), in representative species from all main clades of reptiles. A complete cDNA of HA1 was cloned from the claw-forming epidermis of the lacertid lizard Podarcis sicula, and partial HA1 gene sequences could be amplified from genomic DNA of tuatara, lizards, gekkos, turtles, and crocodiles. In contrast, the HA1 gene of the limbless slow worm, Anguis fragilis, and of two species of turtles contained at least one deleterious mutation. Moreover, an HA1 gene was undetectable in the softshell turtle, snakes, and birds. Mapping the presence and absence of HA1 onto the phylogenetic tree of sauropsids suggested that the HA1 gene has been lost independently in several lineages of reptiles. The species distribution of HA1 is compatible with the hypothesis of a primary function of HA1 in claws but also shows that the formation of reptilian claws does not strictly depend on this keratin.

  7. 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.

  8. Snake venom. The amino acid sequence of protein A from Dendroaspis polylepis polylepis (black mamba) venom.

    PubMed

    Joubert, F J; Strydom, D J

    1980-12-01

    Protein A from Dendroaspis polylepis polylepis venom comprises 81 amino acids, including ten half-cystine residues. The complete primary structures of protein A and its variant A' were elucidated. The sequences of proteins A and A', which differ in a single position, show no homology with various neurotoxins and non-neurotoxic proteins and represent a new type of elapid venom protein.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Reptile thermogenesis and the origins of endothermy.

    PubMed

    Tattersall, Glenn J

    2016-10-01

    Extant endotherms have high rates of metabolism, elevated body temperatures, usually tight control over body temperature, and a reasonable scope for further increases in metabolism through locomotor activity. Vertebrate ectotherms, on the other hand, rely on behavioural thermoregulation and cardiovascular adjustments to facilitate warming, and generally lack specific biochemical and cellular mechanisms for sustained, elevated metabolism. Nevertheless, the ancestral condition to endothermy is thought to resemble that of many extant reptiles, which raises the question of the origins and selection pressures relevant to the transitional state. Numerous hypotheses have emerged to explain the multiple origins of endothermy in vertebrates, including thermoregulatory, locomotory, and reproductive activity as possible drivers for these sustained and elevated metabolic rates. In this article, I discuss recent evidence for facultative endothermy in an extant lepidosaur, the tegu lizard. Since lepidosaurs are a sister group to the archosaurs, understanding how a novel form of endothermy evolved will open up opportunities to test the compatibility or incompatibility of the various endothermy hypotheses, with potential to elucidate and resolve long contentious ideas in evolutionary physiology.

  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 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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

  15. Unraveling snake venom complexity with 'omics' approaches: challenges and perspectives.

    PubMed

    Zelanis, André; Tashima, Alexandre Keiji

    2014-09-01

    The study of snake venom proteomes (venomics) has been experiencing a burst of reports, however the comprehensive knowledge of the dynamic range of proteins present within a single venom, the set of post-translational modifications (PTMs) as well as the lack of a comprehensive database related to venom proteins are among the main challenges in venomics research. The phenotypic plasticity in snake venom proteomes together with their inherent toxin proteoform diversity, points out to the use of integrative analysis in order to better understand their actual complexity. In this regard, such a systems venomics task should encompass the integration of data from transcriptomic and proteomic studies (specially the venom gland proteome), the identification of biological PTMs, and the estimation of artifactual proteomes and peptidomes generated by sample handling procedures.

  16. Behavior, Ecology and Toxicity of Venomous Marine Fishes.

    DTIC Science & Technology

    1976-09-30

    man, and more definitive investigations on the usual ultracellular structure of their venom glands. The present report treats of our most recent study on the venom gland of the stingray Dasytis sabina. (Author)

  17. The physiology of lipid storage and use in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Price, Edwin R

    2016-06-27

    Lipid metabolism is central to understanding whole-animal energetics. Reptiles store most excess energy in lipid form, mobilise those lipids when needed to meet energetic demands, and invest lipids in eggs to provide the primary source of energy to developing embryos. Here, I review the mechanisms by which non-avian reptiles store, transport, and use lipids. Many aspects of lipid absorption, transport, and storage appear to be similar to birds, including the hepatic synthesis of lipids from glucose substrates, the transport of triglycerides in lipoproteins, and the storage of lipids in adipose tissue, although adipose tissue in non-avian reptiles is usually concentrated in abdominal fat bodies or the tail. Seasonal changes in fat stores suggest that lipid storage is primarily for reproduction in most species, rather than for maintenance during aphagic periods. The effects of fasting on plasma lipid metabolites can differ from mammals and birds due to the ability of non-avian reptiles to reduce their metabolism drastically during extended fasts. The effect of fasting on levels of plasma ketones is species specific: β-hydroxybutyrate concentration may rise or fall during fasting. I also describe the process by which the bulk of lipids are deposited into oocytes during vitellogenesis. Although this process is sometimes ascribed to vitellogenin-based transport in reptiles, the majority of lipid deposition occurs via triglycerides packaged in very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs), based on physiological, histological, biochemical, comparative, and genomic evidence. I also discuss the evidence for non-avian reptiles using 'yolk-targeted' VLDLs during vitellogenesis. The major physiological states - feeding, fasting, and vitellogenesis - have different effects on plasma lipid metabolites, and I discuss the possibilities and potential problems of using plasma metabolites to diagnose feeding condition in non-avian reptiles.

  18. 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

  19. A novel IgA-like immunoglobulin in the reptile Eublepharis macularius.

    PubMed

    Deza, Francisco Gambón; Espinel, Christian Sánchez; Beneitez, Julio Valdueza

    2007-01-01

    The appearance of antibody genes over evolution coincided with the origin of the vertebrates. Reptiles are of great interest in evolution since they are the link between the amphibians, birds, and mammals. This work describes the presence of a gene in the reptile leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) where phylogenetic studies suggest that it is the gene orthologue of immunoglobulin A (IgA) and immunoglobulin X (IgX) in Xenopus. Messenger RNA samples taken from different tissues showed expression of this antibody in intestinal tissue. Data on the structure deduced from the sequence of nucleotides showed an antibody with four domains in the constant region. There is a sequence of 20 amino acids in the C terminus similar to the secretory tail of immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgA. A detailed analysis of the sequence of amino acids displayed a paradox, i.e., domains CH1 and CH2 showed a clear homology with domains CH1 and CH2 of immunoglobulin Y (IgY) while domains CH3 and CH4 were homologous with domains CH3 and CH4 of IgM. This homology pattern is also seen in Xenopus IgX and bird IgA. The most logical explanation for this phenomenon is that a recombination between the IgM and IgY gave rise to the IgA.

  20. 21 CFR 864.8950 - Russell viper venom reagent.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-04-01

    ... 21 Food and Drugs 8 2010-04-01 2010-04-01 false Russell viper venom reagent. 864.8950 Section 864...) MEDICAL DEVICES HEMATOLOGY AND PATHOLOGY DEVICES Hematology Reagents § 864.8950 Russell viper venom reagent. (a) Identification. Russell viper venom reagent is a device used to determine the cause of...

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. [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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. [Allergy to hymenoptera venoms in children].

    PubMed

    Rancé, F; Abbal, M; Brémont, F; Dutau, G

    1999-01-01

    Incidence of hymenoptera venom allergy in children is about 0.4 to 0.8%. Clinical features usually range from urticaria to anaphylaxis. Fatal reactions can occur but with less frequency than in adults. Allergologic investigations must be performed in children with systemic or generalized reactions after hymenoptera stings, which may lead to venom immunotherapy. Venom immunotherapy is well reported, but protocols differ according to the authors: ultra-rush in 3 h, accelerated in 3 to 5 days and semi-rush in 2 to 8 weeks. Results are always excellent (90 to 100%). We report our experience with 91 children receiving venom immunotherapy. Clinical history and positivity of skin tests indicated immunotherapy. Clinical symptoms were anaphylaxis (15.3%), serious reaction (37.3%) strong reaction (34%), and mild reaction (7.6%). Changes in immunological parameters revealed wide individual variations, not differing from data in the literature, with no correlation with evolution of immunotherapy. Venom immunotherapy appeared with good tolerability in children, whatever the protocol used.

  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. 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.

  12. Physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of migration in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Southwood, Amanda; Avens, Larisa

    2010-01-01

    Seasonal movements between foraging, breeding, and overwintering sites occur in a wide variety of reptile species. Terrestrial snakes, lizards, and turtles migrate short distances (\\20 km) between seasonal habitats, whereas fully aquatic marine turtles migrate hundreds to thousands of kilometers between foraging and breeding areas. The purpose of this article is to summarize aspects of migratory physiology and behavior in reptiles, particularly with regards to energetics and sensory mechanisms for navigation and orientation. We discuss the influence of aerobic scope, endurance, and cost of transport on migratory capacity, the effects of temperature and circulating hormones on activity and behavior, and mechanisms of detecting and transducing environmental cues to successfully navigate and orient toward a goal during migration. Topics worthy of further research are highlighted in the text, and we conclude with a discussion of how information on migration patterns of reptiles may be used to manage and conserve threatened populations.

  13. Competency of reptiles and amphibians for eastern equine encephalitis virus.

    PubMed

    White, Gregory; Ottendorfer, Christy; Graham, Sean; Unnasch, Thomas R

    2011-09-01

    Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) is endemic throughout most of the eastern United States. Although it is transmitted year round in Florida, transmission elsewhere is seasonal. The mechanism that enables EEEV to overwinter in seasonal foci remains obscure. In previous field studies, early season EEEV activity was detected in mosquito species that feed primarily upon ectothermic hosts, suggesting that reptiles and amphibians might represent overwintering reservoir hosts for EEEV. To determine if this might be possible, two commonly fed upon amphibian and reptile species were evaluated as hosts for the North American subtype I strain of EEEV. Neither amphibian species was a competent host. However, circulating viremias were detected in both reptile species examined. Hibernating infected garter snakes remained viremic after exiting hibernation. These data suggest that snakes may represent an overwintering host for North American EEEV.

  14. 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.

  15. Rampant horizontal transfer of SPIN transposons in squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

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

    2012-02-01

    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 vertebrate

  16. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2006-07-01

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

  18. Components of Asobara venoms and their effects on hosts.

    PubMed

    Moreau, Sébastien J M; Vinchon, Sophie; Cherqui, Anas; Prévost, Geneviève

    2009-01-01

    Hymenoptera of the Asobara genus are endophagous parasitoids of Drosophila larvae. In these apocrita insects whose venom gland is associated with the female reproductive tract, the wasp venom is injected into the host along with the parasitoid egg during oviposition. We conducted a comparative study of the venom apparatuses from three Asobara spp.: the European Asobara tabida, the Asiatic A. japonica and the African A. citri. Light and electron microscopy of venom glands, together with the biochemical analysis of their contents, revealed important differences between Asobara spp. In addition, the physiological effects of female wasp's venom injected into Drosophila larvae differed greatly between the tested Asobara spp.

  19. 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

  20. Development of RNAi in a Drosophila endoparasitoid wasp and demonstration of its efficiency in impairing venom protein production.

    PubMed

    Colinet, Dominique; Kremmer, Laurent; Lemauf, Séverine; Rebuf, Christian; Gatti, Jean-Luc; Poirié, Marylène

    2014-04-01

    Endoparasitoid wasps are essential regulators of insect pests in ecosystems as well as important biological control auxiliaries. Traits important for parasitism success, such as the injection of venom proteins at oviposition, have thus been mainly studied. However, identification of the key genes involved among the large number of genes identified was still prevented by the lack of functional approaches. Here, we report the development of RNA interference (RNAi) in Leptopilina boulardi, a figitid endoparasitoid that performs its entire development inside the Drosophila host. Having set up conditions for in vitro development of parasitoid late larval stages or pupae, we first targeted the cinnabar gene by microinjecting double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), leading to its silencing and production of red-eyed individuals. We then demonstrated that expression of the gene encoding LbGAP, a virulence factor found in a high amount in L. boulardi venom, could be specifically and almost completely silenced. Finally, a time-course analysis revealed that LbGAP silencing lasted during the entire lifetime of L. boulardi. This is the first report of the efficient silencing of venom protein-encoding genes in parasitoid wasps. Overall, RNAi opens the way for a large-scale functional analysis of parasitoid venom factors as well as other traits involved in parasitism success and more largely in the biology of these ecologically important organisms.

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

  4. 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

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

    PubMed

    Modahl, Cassandra M; Mackessy, Stephen P

    2016-06-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. Proteomic interrogation of venom delivery in marine cone snails: novel insights into the role of the venom bulb.

    PubMed

    Safavi-Hemami, Helena; Young, Neil D; Williamson, Nicholas A; Purcell, Anthony W

    2010-11-05

    Cone snails of the genus Conus are predatory marine gastropods mainly found in the shallow waters of the tropics and warm temperate seas. To prey on other marine organisms including fish, cone snails have evolved complex venoms synthesized and delivered by a highly sophisticated venom apparatus. Upon prey discovery, the venom is perfused through a harpoon-like radula tooth and rapidly injected into the prey to cause paralysis. While the venom components of cone snails have been intensively characterized, the mechanism of venom translocation and loading prior to and during injection remains elusive. The involvement of the venom bulb, a muscular dilation of the venom gland has been suggested, however evidence is sparse. Here, we use a combination of proteomics, molecular biology, and morphological examination to elucidate the potential role of the venom bulb in venom translocation and delivery. Analysis of the venom bulb proteome clearly demonstrated a function of this organ in muscular movement and, more interestingly, in burst muscle contraction. Morphological examination revealed high structural similarities to the mantle muscle of squids, animals known for their rapid escape response. We sequenced and further characterized arginine kinase, a key protein of rapid muscular movement in invertebrates and show high concentrations of this enzyme in the bulb when compared to the venom gland and the foot muscle. Proteins characteristic for venom biosynthesis were low in abundance. On the basis of our findings, we suggest that the bulb of cone snails is a highly specialized organ of venom translocation. Delivery of venom is driven by burst contractions of the bulb rapidly forcing the venom through the radula tooth into the prey.

  8. Updates and practical approaches to reproductive disorders in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Sykes, John M

    2010-09-01

    Reproductive biology and disorders are important facets of captive reptile management and are relatively common reasons for reptiles to present to the veterinarian. Although the factors and conditions for normal reproduction differ between species depending on their natural histories, the general principles and common approaches to disorders are presented in this article. Frequently seen disorders addressed in this review include infertility or lack of conception, follicular stasis, dystocia, and reproductive organ prolapse. This article is divided into sections based on the taxonomic groups, although many of the predisposing factors for and the approaches to these conditions are similar for all the groups.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. Tracing monotreme venom evolution in the genomics era.

    PubMed

    Whittington, Camilla M; Belov, Katherine

    2014-04-02

    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.

  15. 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

  16. The humoral immune response induced by snake venom toxins.

    PubMed

    da Silva, Wilmar Dias; Tambourgi, Denise V

    2011-10-01

    This review summarizes the key contributions to our knowledge regarding the immune response induced by snake venom toxins, focusing particularly on the production of antibodies and their venom-neutralizing effects. We cover the past and present state of the art of anti-snake venom production, followed by an overview of the venomous snakes and their venoms. The toxic properties of relevant snake venom toxins are approached in some details, with particular emphasis on the molecular domains responsible for binding to cells or plasma components in victims. The interactions of these domains are also reviewed, particularly the putatively relevant epitopes, along with the immune system and the resulting antibodies. We also review trials aimed at reducing the quantities of non-relevant antibodies in the antivenoms by substituting whole venoms with purified toxins to immunize animals, or the immunogenicity of the heterologous antivenom antibodies by humanizing their molecules.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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...

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-04-12

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Parasitic helminths of reptiles (Reptilia) in South Moravia (Czech Republic).

    PubMed

    Borkovcová, M; Kopriva, J

    2005-01-01

    An helminthological investigation of 104 reptile species was carried out in south Moravia (Czech Republic). We examined Lacerta viridis, L. agilis, Anguis fragilis, Natrix natrix, Coronella austriaca and Vipera berus. Twelve species of parasites were found. Among these, Nematoda occurred most often, followed by Trematoda and Cestoda. No Acanthocephala were detected.

  7. Reptiles and Amphibians of Fairchild Air Force Base, WA

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2013-05-10

    Chrysemys picta None (S5) (Pigmy) Short- horned lizard Phrynosoma douglassii None (S3) Western (Skilton’s) skink Eumeces skiltonianus None (S5...vii 1 Introduction ...the Director of ERDC is Dr. Jeffery P. Holland. ERDC/CERL TR-13-5 viii ERDC/CERL TR-13-5 1 1 Introduction 1.1 Background Many reptile and

  8. 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.

  9. 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…

  10. 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)

  11. The development of complex tooth shape in reptiles

    PubMed Central

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

    2014-01-01

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

  12. 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?

  13. Production of Recombinant Alpha Neurotoxin of Scorpion Venom Mesobuthus eupeus and Analysis of its Immunogenicity

    PubMed Central

    Eskandari, Ghafar; Jolodar, Abbas; Seyfiabad Shapouri, Masoud Reza; Bahmainmehr, Ardeshir; Navidpour, Shahrokh

    2014-01-01

    Background: Scorpion venom is important and rich source of peptides, most of which have been widely used as pharmacological tools for unraveling structure-function relationship of various ion channels. Naturally occurring toxins can be also considered as lead compounds in the development of novel drugs. Objectives: In this context, the scorpion-derived peptide neurotoxins specific to sodium channels have shown promise as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of various human diseases. Materials and Methods: A cDNA library from the extracted RNA was constructed using RT-PCR and semi-nested RT-PCR. DNA sequencing followed by phylogenetic analysis was applied to screen the cDNA library clones. For molecular characterization of the BMK gene we used cloning and recombinant protein expression techniques based on E.coli systems. Then we performed mice immunization and Western blot and Immunodot analyses. Results: A novel BMK neurotoxin has been cloned, expressed and characterized from the Iranian scorpion M. eupeus venom. We analyzed the recombinant BMK by immunoblotting with treated antiserum. The result showed that mice antiserum can react also with scorpion crude venom, so is able to recognize native BMK toxin. Conclusion: The newly produced recombinant protein BMK revealed to be immunogenic. Moreover, anti-BMK antibodies produced in mice were able to recognize both the recombinant BMK neurotoxin and the one in M. eupeus crude venome. Taken together, the molecular characterization and recombinant production of the Iranian scorpion M. eupeus venom component can serve as a new probe for further studies of sodium channels function and physiology. This provides a promising perspective for the future design of selective drugs, as well as for research of antivenom production. PMID:24719721

  14. Parasitoid wasp venom SERCA regulates Drosophila calcium levels and inhibits cellular immunity.

    PubMed

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

    2013-06-04

    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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

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

    PubMed 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

  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

    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.

  1. 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

  2. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

  6. 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.

  7. Snake venomics across genus Lachesis. Ontogenetic changes in the venom composition of Lachesis stenophrys and comparative proteomics of the venoms of adult Lachesis melanocephala and Lachesis acrochorda.

    PubMed

    Madrigal, Marvin; Sanz, Libia; Flores-Díaz, Marietta; Sasa, Mahmood; Núñez, Vitelbina; Alape-Girón, Alberto; Calvete, Juan J

    2012-12-21

    We report the proteomic analysis of ontogenetic changes in venom composition of the Central American bushmaster, Lachesis stenophrys, and the characterization of the venom proteomes of two congeneric pitvipers, Lachesis melanocephala (black-headed bushmaster) and Lachesis acrochorda (Chochoan bushmaster). Along with the previous characterization of the venom proteome of Lachesis muta muta (from Bolivia), our present outcome enables a comparative overview of the composition and distribution of the toxic proteins across genus Lachesis. Comparative venomics revealed the close kinship of Central American L. stenophrys and L. melanocephala and support the elevation of L. acrochorda to species status. Major ontogenetic changes in the toxin composition of L. stenophrys venom involves quantitative changes in the concentration of vasoactive peptides and serine proteinases, which steadily decrease from birth to adulthood, and age-dependent de novo biosynthesis of Gal-lectin and snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs). The net result is a shift from a bradykinin-potentiating and C-type natriuretic peptide (BPP/C-NP)-rich and serine proteinase-rich venom in newborns and 2-years-old juveniles to a (PI>PIII) SVMP-rich venom in adults. Notwithstanding minor qualitative and quantitative differences, the venom arsenals of L. melanocephala and L. acrochorda are broadly similar between themselves and also closely mirror those of adult L. stenophrys and L. muta venoms. The high conservation of the overall composition of Central and South American bushmaster venoms provides the ground for rationalizing the "Lachesis syndrome", characterized by vagal syntomatology, sensorial disorders, hematologic, and cardiovascular manifestations, documented in envenomings by different species of this wide-ranging genus. This finding let us predict that monospecific Lachesic antivenoms may exhibit paraspecificity against all congeneric species.

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  10. Bee venom hypersensitivity and its management: patients perception of venom desensitisation.

    PubMed

    Lui, C L; Heddle, R J; Kupa, A; Coates, T; Roberts-Thomson, P J

    1995-12-01

    The objectives of the study were to review bee venom immunotherapy from the patient's perspective: in particular its benefits and its problems, and to investigate any genetic tendency for bee venom hypersensitivity. A self administered, 9 item questionnaire was sent to 219 patients who had undergone either inpatient or outpatient bee venom immunotherapy at Flinders Medical Center. The clinic records of these patients were also reviewed. The controls for the genetic study were sought from patients, staff and students at Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre. One hundred and forty-six questionnaires (some incomplete and anonymous) were received. The female to male ratio was 1:2.5. The age at the time of the initial anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting ranged between 2 to 59 years, with 67% of patients being less then 20 years old. Forty percent of patients underwent venom immunotherapy for a period less than 2 years with only 11% maintaining therapy for the recommended period of 5 years or more. Thirty three percent of patients stopped their therapy on their own accord. Bee stings occurring during bee venom immunotherapy (n = 56) were generally well tolerated except in 8 subjects, 7 of whom had not reached the maintenance dose. The reduction in systemic reactions to subsequent bee stings was significantly better in the study group receiving bee venom than in an historic control group treated with whole bee extract (p = 0.03). Fear of bee stings and restricted life styles were improved during or after venom immunotherapy. The frequency of a positive family history of systemic reactions to bee stings in the patient cohort was 31%, whereas in controls it was 15% (p = 0.013). Bee venom immunotherapy has dual benefits: patients are protected from subsequent sting anaphylaxis and there is reduced psychological morbidity. However, to be effective, venom immunotherapy requires a prolonged period of carefully supervised treatment and each venom injection can cause

  11. Biochemical, genetic and physiological characterization of venom components from two species of scorpions: Centruroides exilicauda Wood and Centruroides sculpturatus Ewing.

    PubMed

    Valdez-Cruz, Norma A; Dávila, Sonia; Licea, Alexei; Corona, Miguel; Zamudio, Fernando Z; García-Valdes, Jesús; Boyer, Leslie; Possani, Lourival D

    2004-06-01

    Current literature concerning the taxonomic names of two possibly distinct species of scorpions from the genus Centruroides (sculpturatus and/or exilicauda) is controversial. This communication reports the results of biochemical, genetic and electrophysiological experiments conducted with C. exilicauda Wood of Baja California (Mexico) and C. sculpturatus Ewing of Arizona (USA). The chromatographic profile fractionation of the soluble venom from both species of scorpions is different. The N-terminal amino acid sequence for nine toxins of C. exilicauda was determined and compared with those from C. sculpturatus. Lethality tests conducted in mice support the idea that C. exilicauda venom should be expected to be medically less important than C. sculpturatus. Thirteen genes from the venomous glands of the scorpion C. exilicauda were obtained and compared with previously published sequences from genes of the species C. sculpturatus. Genes coding for cytochrome oxidase I and II of both species were also sequenced. A phylogenetic tree was generated with this information showing important differences between them. Additionally, the results of electrophysiological assays conducted with the venom from both species on the Ca(2+)-dependent K(+)-channels, showed significant differences. These results strongly support the conclusion that C. exilicauda and C. sculpturatus are in fact two distinct species of scorpions.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. Molecular and morphological description of a Hepatozoon species in reptiles and their ticks in the Northern Territory, Australia.

    PubMed

    Vilcins, Inger-Marie E; Ujvari, Beata; Old, Julie M; Deane, Elizabeth

    2009-04-01

    Ticks, representing 3 species of Amblyomma, were collected from the water python (Liasis fuscus) and 3 additional reptile species in the Northern Territory, Australia, and tested for the presence of Hepatozoon sp., the most common blood parasites of snakes. In addition, blood smears were collected from 5 reptiles, including the water python, and examined for the presence of the parasite. Hepatozoon sp. DNA was detected in all tick and reptile species, with 57.7% of tick samples (n = 187) and 35.6% of blood smears (n=35) showing evidence of infection. Phylogenetic analysis of the 18S rRNA gene demonstrated that half of the sequences obtained from positive tick samples matched closest with a Hepatozoon species previously identified in the water python population. The remaining sequences were found to be more closely related to mammalian and amphibian Hepatozoon species. This study confirms that species of Amblyomma harbor DNA of the same Hepatozoon species detected in the water pythons. The detection of an additional genotype suggests the ticks may be exposed to 2 Hepatozoon species, providing further opportunity to study multiple host-vector-parasite relationships.

  15. Antibacterial properties of KwaZulu natal snake venoms.

    PubMed

    Blaylock, R S

    2000-11-01

    The objective was to ascertain whether local snake venoms have antibacterial properties. The venoms of the common night adder (Causus rhombeatus), gaboon adder (Bitis gabonica), puff adder (Bitis arietans), black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis augusticeps), forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca), snouted cobra (Naja annulifera) and Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica) were collected and, by gel diffusion, tested against the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeriginosa, Bacteriodes fragilis, Bacteroides intermedius, Clostridium sordellii and Clostridium perfringens. All snake venoms showed antibacterial activity, with the adders showing most activity against the aerobes while the cobras showed lesser, but equal activity against the aerobes and anaerobes. Black mamba venom only showed activity against C. perfringens. In conclusion, local snake venoms have antibacterial properties which are dependent on the venom and bacterial type; and in the Naja spp., for anaerobic bacteria, diminish in winter. There is liable to be more than one toxin component responsible.

  16. Animal venom studies: Current benefits and future developments

    PubMed Central

    Utkin, Yuri N

    2015-01-01

    Poisonous organisms are represented in many taxa, including kingdom Animalia. During evolution, animals have developed special organs for production and injection of venoms. Animal venoms are complex mixtures, compositions of which depend on species producing venom. The most known and studied poisonous terrestrial animals are snakes, scorpions and spiders. Among marine animals, these are jellyfishes, anemones and cone snails. The toxic substances in the venom of these animals are mainly of protein and peptide origin. Recent studies have indicated that the single venom may contain up to several hundred different components producing diverse physiological effects. Bites or stings by certain poisonous species result in severe envenomations leading in some cases to death. This raises the problem of bite treatment. The most effective treatment so far is the application of antivenoms. To enhance the effectiveness of such treatments, the knowledge of venom composition is needed. On the other hand, venoms contain substances with unique biological properties, which can be used both in basic science and in clinical applications. The best example of toxin application in basic science is α-bungarotoxin the discovery of which made a big impact on the studies of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Today compositions of venom from many species have already been examined. Based on these data, one can conclude that venoms contain a large number of individual components belonging to a limited number of structural types. Often minor changes in the amino acid sequence give rise to new biological properties. Change in the living conditions of poisonous animals lead to alterations in the composition of venoms resulting in appearance of new toxins. At the same time introduction of new methods of proteomics and genomics lead to discoveries of new compounds, which may serve as research tools or as templates for the development of novel drugs. The application of these sensitive and

  17. Studies on Bee Venom and Its Medical Uses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ali, Mahmoud Abdu Al-Samie Mohamed

    2012-07-01

    Use of honey and other bee products in human treatments traced back thousands of years and healing properties are included in many religious texts including the Veda, Bible and Quran. Apitherapy is the use of honey bee products for medical purposes, this include bee venom, raw honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, and beeswax. Whereas bee venom therapy is the use of live bee stings (or injectable venom) to treat various diseases such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, sciatica, low back pain, and tennis elbow to name a few. It refers to any use of venom to assist the body in healing itself. Bee venom contains at least 18 pharmacologically active components including various enzymes, peptides and amines. Sulfur is believed to be the main element in inducing the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands and in protecting the body from infections. Contact with bee venom produces a complex cascade of reactions in the human body. The bee venom is safe for human treatments, the median lethal dose (LD50) for an adult human is 2.8 mg of venom per kg of body weight, i.e. a person weighing 60 kg has a 50% chance of surviving injections totaling 168 mg of bee venom. Assuming each bee injects all its venom and no stings are quickly removed at a maximum of 0.3 mg venom per sting, 560 stings could well be lethal for such a person. For a child weighing 10 kg, as little as 93.33 stings could be fatal. However, most human deaths result from one or few bee stings due to allergic reactions, heart failure or suffocation from swelling around the neck or the mouth. As compare with other human diseases, accidents and other unusual cases, the bee venom is very safe for human treatments.

  18. Widespread Chemical Detoxification of Alkaloid Venom by Formicine Ants.

    PubMed

    LeBrun, Edward G; Diebold, Peter J; Orr, Matthew R; Gilbert, Lawrence E

    2015-10-01

    The ability to detoxify defensive compounds of competitors provides key ecological advantages that can influence community-level processes. Although common in plants and bacteria, this type of detoxification interaction is extremely rare in animals. Here, using laboratory behavioral assays and analyses of videotaped interactions in South America, we report widespread venom detoxification among ants in the subfamily Formicinae. Across both data sets, nine formicine species, representing all major clades, used a stereotyped grooming behavior to self-apply formic acid (acidopore grooming) in response to fire ant (Solenopsis invicta and S. saevissima) venom exposure. In laboratory assays, this behavior increased the survivorship of species following exposure to S. invicta venom. Species expressed the behavior when exposed to additional alkaloid venoms, including both compositionally similar piperidine venom of an additional fire ant species and the pyrrolidine/pyrroline alkaloid venom of a Monomorium species. In addition, species expressed the behavior following exposure to the uncharacterized venom of a Crematogaster species. However, species did not express acidopore grooming when confronted with protein-based ant venoms or when exposed to monoterpenoid-based venom. This pattern, combined with the specific chemistry of the reaction of formic acid with venom alkaloids, indicates that alkaloid venoms are targets of detoxification grooming. Solenopsis thief ants, and Monomorium species stand out as brood-predators of formicine ants that produce piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrroline venom, providing an important ecological context for the use of detoxification behavior. Detoxification behavior also represents a mechanism that can influence the order of assemblage dominance hierarchies surrounding food competition. Thus, this behavior likely influences ant-assemblages through a variety of ecological pathways.

  19. Animal venom studies: Current benefits and future developments.

    PubMed

    Utkin, Yuri N

    2015-05-26

    Poisonous organisms are represented in many taxa, including kingdom Animalia. During evolution, animals have developed special organs for production and injection of venoms. Animal venoms are complex mixtures, compositions of which depend on species producing venom. The most known and studied poisonous terrestrial animals are snakes, scorpions and spiders. Among marine animals, these are jellyfishes, anemones and cone snails. The toxic substances in the venom of these animals are mainly of protein and peptide origin. Recent studies have indicated that the single venom may contain up to several hundred different components producing diverse physiological effects. Bites or stings by certain poisonous species result in severe envenomations leading in some cases to death. This raises the problem of bite treatment. The most effective treatment so far is the application of antivenoms. To enhance the effectiveness of such treatments, the knowledge of venom composition is needed. On the other hand, venoms contain substances with unique biological properties, which can be used both in basic science and in clinical applications. The best example of toxin application in basic science is α-bungarotoxin the discovery of which made a big impact on the studies of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Today compositions of venom from many species have already been examined. Based on these data, one can conclude that venoms contain a large number of individual components belonging to a limited number of structural types. Often minor changes in the amino acid sequence give rise to new biological properties. Change in the living conditions of poisonous animals lead to alterations in the composition of venoms resulting in appearance of new toxins. At the same time introduction of new methods of proteomics and genomics lead to discoveries of new compounds, which may serve as research tools or as templates for the development of novel drugs. The application of these sensitive and

  20. Modern trends in animal venom research - omics and nanomaterials

    PubMed Central

    Utkin, Yuri N

    2017-01-01

    Animal venom research is a specialized investigation field, in which a number of different methods are used and this array is constantly expanding. Thus, recently emerged omics and nanotechnologies have already been successfully applied to venom research. Animal venoms have been studied for quite a long time. The traditional reductionist approach has been to isolate individual toxins and then study their structure and function. Unfortunately, the characterization of the venom as a whole system and its multiple effects on an entire organism were not possible until recent times. The development of new methods in mass spectrometry and sequencing have allowed such characterizations of venom, encompassing the identification of new toxins present in venoms at extremely low concentrations to changes in metabolism of prey organisms after envenomation. In particular, this type of comprehensive research has become possible due to the development of the various omics technologies: Proteomics, peptidomics, transcriptomics, genomics and metabolomics. As in other research fields, these omics technologies ushered in a revolution for venom studies, which is now entering the era of big data. Nanotechnology is a very new branch of technology and developing at an extremely rapid pace. It has found application in many spheres and has not bypassed the venom studies. Nanomaterials are quite promising in medicine, and most studies combining venoms and nanomaterials are dedicated to medical applications. Conjugates of nanoparticles with venom components have been proposed for use as drugs or diagnostics. For example, nanoparticles conjugated with chlorotoxin - a toxin in scorpion venom, which has been shown to bind specifically to glioma cells - are considered as potential glioma-targeted drugs, and conjugates of neurotoxins with fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles or quantum dots may be used to detect endogenous targets expressed in live cells. The data on application of omics and

  1. THE PHOTODYNAMIC ACTION OF EOSIN AND ERYTHROSIN UPON SNAKE VENOM

    PubMed Central

    Noguchi, Hideyo

    1906-01-01

    Since the hæmolysins of the several venoms respond differently to photodynamic action, they may be regarded as possessing different chemical constitutions. As regards stability, cobra hæmolysin ranks first, daboia second, and Crotalus third. The toxicity of all the venoms is more or less diminished by eosin and erythrosin in sunlight. This reduction in toxicity depends upon chemical changes, of more or less profound nature, taking place in certain of the active principles of the venom. The more stabile the predominant active principles the less the reduction in toxicity, and vice versa. Venom-neurotoxins are highly resistant to photodynamic action, venom-hæmolysins are less resistant, while the hæmorrhagin and thrombokinase of Crotalus and daboia venoms exhibit weak powers of resistance to their action. Hence it follows that while cobra venom remained almost unaltered, rattlesnake and daboia venoms were greatly reduced in toxicity when mixed with the fluorescent dyes and exposed to sunlight. There is an interesting parallel between the action of eosin and erythrosin upon the different venoms and their reactions to other injurious agencies. For example, the hæmolysins of cobra and daboia venoms are more heat resistant than the hæmolysin of Crotalus venom, and the former are less injured by the dyes than the latter. The neurotoxin of the former venoms is also more heat stabile than that of the rattlesnake, and the same relative degree of resistance holds for this substance and the anilines. Just as the hæmorrhagin of rattlesnake venom and the thrombokinase of daboia venom are destroyed by a temperature of 75° C., so are they readily inactivated by the photo dynamic substances employed. The globulin-precipitating and blood corpuscle-protecting principle of cobra venom is relatively thermostabile and in contradistinction to the immunity-precipitins it is also unaffected by eosin and erythrosin. This study of the action of photodynamic substances upon snake

  2. Venom Proteins from Parasitoid Wasps and Their Biological Functions

    PubMed Central

    Moreau, Sébastien J. M.; Asgari, Sassan

    2015-01-01

    Parasitoid wasps are valuable biological control agents that suppress their host populations. Factors introduced by the female wasp at parasitization play significant roles in facilitating successful development of the parasitoid larva either inside (endoparasitoid) or outside (ectoparasitoid) the host. Wasp venoms consist of a complex cocktail of proteinacious and non-proteinacious components that may offer agrichemicals as well as pharmaceutical components to improve pest management or health related disorders. Undesirably, the constituents of only a small number of wasp venoms are known. In this article, we review the latest research on venom from parasitoid wasps with an emphasis on their biological function, applications and new approaches used in venom studies. PMID:26131769

  3. Venom Proteins from Parasitoid Wasps and Their Biological Functions.

    PubMed

    Moreau, Sébastien J M; Asgari, Sassan

    2015-06-26

    Parasitoid wasps are valuable biological control agents that suppress their host populations. Factors introduced by the female wasp at parasitization play significant roles in facilitating successful development of the parasitoid larva either inside (endoparasitoid) or outside (ectoparasitoid) the host. Wasp venoms consist of a complex cocktail of proteinacious and non-proteinacious components that may offer agrichemicals as well as pharmaceutical components to improve pest management or health related disorders. Undesirably, the constituents of only a small number of wasp venoms are known. In this article, we review the latest research on venom from parasitoid wasps with an emphasis on their biological function, applications and new approaches used in venom studies.

  4. PARASITOID VENOM INDUCES METABOLIC CASCADES IN FLY HOSTS

    PubMed Central

    Mrinalini; Siebert, Aisha L.; Wright, Jeremy; Martinson, Ellen; Wheeler, David; Werren, John H.

    2016-01-01

    Parasitoid wasps inject insect hosts with a cocktail of venoms to manipulate the physiology, development, and immunity of the hosts and to promote development of the parasitoid offspring. The jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis is a model parasitoid with at least 79 venom proteins. We conducted a high-throughput analysis of Nasonia venom effects on temporal changes of 249 metabolites in pupae of the flesh fly host (Sarcophaga bullata), over a five-day time course. Our results show that venom does not simply arrest the metabolism of the fly host. Rather, it targets specific metabolic processes while keeping hosts alive for at least five days post venom injection by the wasp. We found that venom: (a) Activates the sorbitol biosynthetic pathway while maintaining stable glucose levels, (b) Causes a shift in intermediary metabolism by switching to anaerobic metabolism and blocking the tricarboxylic acid cycle, (c) Arrests chitin biosynthesis that likely reflects developmental arrest of adult fly structures, (d) Elevates the majority of free amino acids, and (e) May be increasing phospholipid degradation. Despite sharing some metabolic effects with cold treatment, diapause, and hypoxia, the venom response is distinct from these conditions. Because Nasonia venom dramatically increases sorbitol levels without changing glucose levels, it could be a useful model for studying the regulation of the sorbitol pathway, which is relevant to diabetes research. Our findings generally support the view that parasitoid venoms are a rich source of bioactive molecules with potential biomedical applications. PMID:27867325

  5. [Use of medicinal plants against scorpionic and ophidian venoms].

    PubMed

    Memmi, A; Sansa, G; Rjeibi, I; El Ayeb, M; Srairi-Abid, N; Bellasfer, Z; Fekhih, A

    2007-01-01

    The scorpionic and ophidian envenomations are a serious public health problem in Tunisia especially in Southeastern regions. In these regions Artemisia campestris L is a plant well known which has a very important place in traditional medicine for its effectiveness against alleged venom of scorpions and snakes. In this work, we tested for the first time, the anti-venomous activity of Artemisia campestris L against the scorpion Androctonus australis garzonii and the viper Macrovipera lebetina venoms. Assays were conducted by fixing the dose of extract to3 mg/mouse while doses of venom are variable. The leaves of Artemisia campestris L were extracted by various organic solvents (Ether of oil, ethyl acetate, methanol and ethanol) and each extract was tested for its venom neutralizing capacity. For the ethanolic extract, a significant activity with respect to the venoms of scorpion Androctonus australis garzonii (Aag), was detected. Similarly, a significant neutralizing activity against the venom of a viper Macrovipera lebetina (Ml), was obtained with the dichloromethane extract. These results suggest the presence of two different type of chemical components in this plant: those neutralizing the venom of scorpion are soluble in ethanol whereas those neutralizing the venom of viper are soluble in dichloromethane.

  6. Venomic and transcriptomic analysis of centipede Scolopendra subspinipes dehaani.

    PubMed

    Liu, Zi-Chao; Zhang, Rong; Zhao, Feng; Chen, Zhong-Ming; Liu, Hao-Wen; Wang, Yan-Jie; Jiang, Ping; Zhang, Yong; Wu, Ying; Ding, Jiu-Ping; Lee, Wen-Hui; Zhang, Yun

    2012-12-07

    Centipedes have venom glands in their first pair of limbs, and their venoms contain a large number of components with different biochemical and pharmacological properties. However, information about the compositions and functions of their venoms is largely unknown. In this study, Scolopendra subspinipes dehaani venoms were systematically investigated by transcriptomic and proteomic analysis coupled with biological function assays. After random screening approximately 1500 independent clones, 1122 full length cDNA sequences, which encode 543 different proteins, were cloned from a constructed cDNA library using a pair of venom glands from a single centipede species. Neurotoxins, ion channel acting components and venom allergens were the main fractions of the crude venom as revealed by transcriptomic analysis. Meanwhile, 40 proteins/peptides were purified and characterized from crude venom of S. subspinipes dehaani. The N-terminal amino acid sequencing and mass spectrum results of 29 out of these 40 proteins or peptides matched well with their corresponding cDNAs. The purified proteins/peptides showed different pharmacological properties, including the following: (1) platelet aggregating activity; (2) anticoagulant activity; (3) phospholipase A(2) activity; (4) trypsin inhibiting activity; (5) voltage-gated potassium channel activities; (6) voltage-gated sodium channel activities; (7) voltage-gated calcium channel activities. Most of them showed no significant similarity to other protein sequences deposited in the known public database. This work provides the largest number of protein or peptide candidates with medical-pharmaceutical significance and reveals the toxin nature of centipede S. subspinipes dehaani venom.

  7. Inactivation of complement by Loxosceles reclusa spider venom.

    PubMed

    Gebel, H M; Finke, J H; Elgert, K D; Cambell, B J; Barrett, J T

    1979-07-01

    Zymosan depletion of serum complement in guinea pigs rendered them highly resistant to lesion by Loxosceles reclusa spider venom. Guinea pigs deficient in C4 of the complement system are as sensitive to the venom as normal guinea pigs. The injection of 35 micrograms of whole recluse venom intradermally into guinea pigs lowered their complement level by 35.7%. Brown recluse spider venom in concentrations as slight as 0.02 micrograms protein/ml can totally inactivate one CH50 of guinea pig complement in vitro. Bee, scorpion, and other spider venoms had no influence on the hemolytic titer of complement. Fractionation of recluse spider venom by Sephadex G-200 filtration separated the complement-inactivating property of the venom into three major regions which could be distinguished on the basis of heat stability as well as size. None was neutralized by antivenom. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of venom resolved the complement inactivators into five fractions. Complement inactivated by whole venom or the Sephadex fractions could be restored to hemolytic activity by supplements of fresh serum but not by heat-inactivated serum, pure C3, pure C5, or C3 and C5 in combination.

  8. Chemical Punch Packed in Venoms Makes Centipedes Excellent Predators*

    PubMed Central

    Yang, Shilong; Liu, Zhonghua; Xiao, Yao; Li, Yuan; Rong, Mingqiang; Liang, Songping; Zhang, Zhiye; Yu, Haining; King, Glenn F.; Lai, Ren

    2012-01-01

    Centipedes are excellent predatory arthropods that inject venom to kill or immobilize their prey. Although centipedes have long been known to be venomous, their venoms remain largely unexplored. The chemical components responsible for centipede predation and the functional mechanisms are unknown. Twenty-six neurotoxin-like peptides belonging to ten groups were identified from the centipede venoms, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans L. Koch by peptidomics combined with transcriptome analysis, revealing the diversity of neurotoxins. These neurotoxins each contain two to four intramolecular disulfide bridges, and in most cases the disulfide framework is different from that found in neurotoxins from the venoms of spiders, scorpions, marine cone snails, sea anemones, and snakes (5S animals). Several neurotoxins contain potential insecticidal abilities, and they are found to act on voltage-gated sodium, potassium, and calcium channels, respectively. Although these neurotoxins are functionally similar to the disulfide-rich neurotoxins found in the venoms of 5S animals in that they modulate the activity of voltage-gated ion channels, in almost all cases the primary structures of the centipede venom peptides are unique. This represents an interesting case of convergent evolution in which different venomous animals have evolved different molecular strategies for targeting the same ion channels in prey and predators. Moreover, the high level of biochemical diversity revealed in this study suggests that centipede venoms might be attractive subjects for prospecting and screening for peptide candidates with potential pharmaceutical or agrochemical applications. PMID:22595790

  9. Observations on white and yellow venoms from an individual southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri).

    PubMed

    Johnson, E K; Kardong, K V; Ownby, C L

    1987-01-01

    Biochemical differences in white and yellow venoms produced in the separate venom glands of an individual southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis helleri) were investigated. Compared to the yellow venom, the white venom contained fewer low molecular weight components and was considerably less toxic. Although the exact LD50 was not determined, the white venom did not produce toxic effects in mice when injected i.v. at concentrations up to 10 mg/kg. The i.v. LD50 of the yellow venom was approximately 1.6 mg/kg. Both white and yellow venoms had hemorrhagic activity, but the white venom caused less intradermal hemorrhage in mice. No L-amino acid oxidase activity was measured in the white venom and protease and phospholipase A2 activities of the white venom were much less than in the yellow venom. The white and yellow venoms both produced myonecrosis at 1, 3 and 24 hr after i.m. injection into mice, however, there were some qualitative differences in the myonecrosis produced. When the venom samples were reacted against Wyeth's polyvalent (Crotalidae) antivenom using immunodiffusion, three precipitin bands formed against the yellow venom, whereas only one formed against the white venom. When reacted against an antiserum to myotoxin alpha from C. viridis viridis venom, both the white and yellow venoms produced one precipitin band each.

  10. Snake Venom Metalloproteinases and Their Peptide Inhibitors from Myanmar Russell’s Viper Venom

    PubMed Central

    Yee, Khin Than; Pitts, Morgan; Tongyoo, Pumipat; Rojnuckarin, Ponlapat; Wilkinson, Mark C.

    2016-01-01

    Russell’s viper bites are potentially fatal from severe bleeding, renal failure and capillary leakage. Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) are attributed to these effects. In addition to specific antivenom therapy, endogenous inhibitors from snakes are of interest in studies of new treatment modalities for neutralization of the effect of toxins. Two major snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs): RVV-X and Daborhagin were purified from Myanmar Russell’s viper venom using a new purification strategy. Using the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) approach to explore the Myanmar RV venom gland transcriptome, mRNAs of novel tripeptide SVMP inhibitors (SVMPIs) were discovered. Two novel endogenous tripeptides, pERW and pEKW were identified and isolated from the crude venom. Both purified SVMPs showed caseinolytic activity. Additionally, RVV-X displayed specific proteolytic activity towards gelatin and Daborhagin showed potent fibrinogenolytic activity. These activities were inhibited by metal chelators. Notably, the synthetic peptide inhibitors, pERW and pEKW, completely inhibit the gelatinolytic and fibrinogenolytic activities of respective SVMPs at 5 mM concentration. These complete inhibitory effects suggest that these tripeptides deserve further study for development of a therapeutic candidate for Russell’s viper envenomation. PMID:28042812

  11. Coevolution of venom function and venom resistance in a rattlesnake predator and its squirrel prey.

    PubMed

    Holding, Matthew L; Biardi, James E; Gibbs, H Lisle

    2016-04-27

    Measuring local adaptation can provide insights into how coevolution occurs between predators and prey. Specifically, theory predicts that local adaptation in functionally matched traits of predators and prey will not be detected when coevolution is governed by escalating arms races, whereas it will be present when coevolution occurs through an alternate mechanism of phenotype matching. Here, we analyse local adaptation in venom activity and prey resistance across 12 populations of Northern Pacific rattlesnakes and California ground squirrels, an interaction that has often been described as an arms race. Assays of venom function and squirrel resistance show substantial geographical variation (influenced by site elevation) in both venom metalloproteinase activity and resistance factor effectiveness. We demonstrate local adaptation in the effectiveness of rattlesnake venom to overcoming present squirrel resistance, suggesting that phenotype matching plays a role in the coevolution of these molecular traits. Further, the predator was the locally adapted antagonist in this interaction, arguing that rattlesnakes are evolutionarily ahead of their squirrel prey. Phenotype matching needs to be considered as an important mechanism influencing coevolution between venomous animals and resistant prey.

  12. Characterization of a novel cDNA encoding a short venom peptide derived from venom gland of scorpion Buthus martensii Karsch: trans-splicing may play an important role in the diversification of scorpion venom peptides.

    PubMed

    Zeng, Xian-Chun; Luo, Feng; Li, Wen-Xin

    2006-04-01

    A novel cDNA clone (named BmKT-u) which is a hybrid molecule of the 5'-terminal region of BmKT' cDNA and the 3'-terminal region of an undocumented cDNA (named BmKu), was isolated from a cDNA library made from the venom gland of scorpion Buthus martensii Karsch. BmKT-u codes for a 30 amino acid residue precursor peptide composed of a 20-residue signal sequence, and a putative 10-residue novel mature peptide. Northern blot hybridization showed BmKT-u cDNA is generated from a transcript. RT-PCR experiments excluded the possibility that BmKT-u cDNA is an artifact generated during reverse transcription. Genomic amplifications performed with three pairs of BmKT-u gene-specific primers showed the BmKT-u gene does not exist in the genome of the scorpion as a single transcriptional unit. Genomic cloning for BmKT' showed that the BmKT' gene contains an intron of 509 bp inserted into the region encoding the C-terminal region of the signal peptide. A sequence alignment comparison of the cDNA of BmKT-u with genomic BmKT' revealed that the junction site of the hybrid molecule is located at the 5'-splicing site of the intron. The data suggest that the BmKT-u transcript is a naturally occurring mature mRNA that is generated by trans-splicing. Trans-splicing may contribute to the diversity of venom peptides from venomous animals.

  13. Regulation of body temperature by some Mesozoic marine reptiles.

    PubMed

    Bernard, Aurélien; Lécuyer, Christophe; Vincent, Peggy; Amiot, Romain; Bardet, Nathalie; Buffetaut, Eric; Cuny, Gilles; Fourel, François; Martineau, François; Mazin, Jean-Michel; Prieur, Abel

    2010-06-11

    What the body temperature and thermoregulation processes of extinct vertebrates were are central questions for understanding their ecology and evolution. The thermophysiologic status of the great marine reptiles is still unknown, even though some studies have suggested that thermoregulation may have contributed to their exceptional evolutionary success as apex predators of Mesozoic aquatic ecosystems. We tested the thermal status of ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs by comparing the oxygen isotope compositions of their tooth phosphate to those of coexisting fish. Data distribution reveals that these large marine reptiles were able to maintain a constant and high body temperature in oceanic environments ranging from tropical to cold temperate. Their estimated body temperatures, in the range from 35 degrees +/- 2 degrees C to 39 degrees +/- 2 degrees C, suggest high metabolic rates required for predation and fast swimming over large distances offshore.

  14. 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.

  15. Development of the plerocercoid I of Ophiotaenia europaea in reptiles.

    PubMed

    Biserkov, V; Kostadinova, A

    1997-12-01

    The existence of a two-host life-cycle in ophiotaeniid proteocephalideans was tested experimentally using Ophiotaenia europaea as a model. Three species of reptiles, Natrix natrix, Natrix tessellata and Lacerta viridis, were fed with experimentally infected copepods containing a large number of infective plerocercoids I. A few plerocercoids, most of which were dead, corresponding morphologically to the plerocercoid II developmental stage of O. europaea, were found encysted in the intestinal wall of N. natrix (8 days p.i.), N. tessellata (5 and 150 days p.i.) and L. viridis (40 days p.i.), while no plerocercoids or adult worms were recovered from their intestines. The results indicate that the infective plerocercoid I of O. europaea cannot undergo further development when ingested directly by the final host (a reptile), and that environmental temperature stimuli cannot initiate a reverse plerocercoid migration to the gut followed by strobilization.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. Contrasting models of parity-mode evolution in squamate reptiles.

    PubMed

    Pyron, R Alexander; Burbrink, Frank T

    2015-09-01

    Recent analyses using large-scale phylogenies suggest a radically different history for the evolution of live birth and egg laying in squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) than traditionally understood. What is the ancestral condition for lizards and snakes? How frequently does live bearing evolve in egg-laying lineages? Can the eggshell ever re-evolve in live-bearing lineages? Answering these fundamental questions about the evolution of key physiological processes will require additional data from genomic, developmental, and fossil data.

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

    PubMed

    Vitousek, Maren N; Ade