SciCombinator

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Concept: Apitoxin

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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.

Concepts: Fish, Arthropod, Toxin, Venom, Scorpion, Snake, Apitoxin, Spider bite

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Venomous animals have toxins associated with delivery mechanisms that can introduce the toxins into another animal [1]. Although most amphibian species produce or sequester noxious or toxic secretions in the granular glands of the skin to use as antipredator mechanisms [2, 3], amphibians have been considered poisonous rather than venomous because delivery mechanisms are absent. The skin secretions of two Brazilian hylid frogs (Corythomantis greeningi [4] and Aparasphenodon brunoi) are more toxic than the venoms of deadly venomous Brazilian pitvipers, genus Bothrops [5]; C. greeningi secretion is 2-fold and A. brunoi secretion is 25-fold as lethal as Bothrops venom. Like the venoms of other animals, the skin secretions of these frogs show proteolytic and fibrinolytic activity and have hyaluronidase, which is nontoxic and nonproteolytic but promotes diffusion of toxins. These frogs have well-developed delivery mechanisms, utilizing bony spines on the skull that pierce the skin in areas with concentrations of skin glands. C. greeningi has greater development of head spines and enlarged skin glands producing a greater volume of secretion, while A. brunoi has more lethal venom. C. greeningi and A. brunoi have highly toxic skin secretions and an associated delivery mechanism; they are therefore venomous. Because even tiny amounts of these secretions introduced into a wound caused by the head spines could be dangerous, these frogs are capable of using their skin toxins as venoms against would-be predators.

Concepts: Fish, Toxicology, Skin, Poison, Toxin, Amphibian, Venom, Apitoxin

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The honeybee sting challenge is considered a reliable procedure to evaluate the efficacy of specific immunotherapy, but it is difficult and unpractical to perform in clinical practice, because live insects are required.

Concepts: Insect, Honey bee, Beekeeping, Performance, Programming language, Music, Rehearsal, Apitoxin

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Ca(v)2.2 is a calcium channel subtype localized at nerve terminals, including nociceptive fibers, where it initiates neurotransmitter release. Ca(v)2.2 is an important contributor to synaptic transmission in ascending pain pathways, and is up-regulated in the spinal cord in chronic pain states along with the auxiliary α2δ1 subunit. It is therefore not surprising that toxins that inhibit Ca(v)2.2 are analgesic. Venomous animals, such as cone snails, spiders, snakes, assassin bugs, centipedes and scorpions are rich sources of remarkably potent and selective Ca(v)2.2 inhibitors. However, side effects in humans currently limit their clinical use. Here we review Ca(v)2.2 inhibitors from venoms and their potential as drug leads.

Concepts: Pain, Toxin, Venom, Scorpion, Snake, Apitoxin, Toxins, Spider bite

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Venomous animals use peptide toxins for hunting and self-defense. To achieve these goals, toxins need to bind to their targets with high affinity due to the small amount that a single bite or sting can deliver. The scorpion toxin BmP01 is linked to sting-induced excruciating pain; however, the reported minimum concentrations for activating TRPV1 channel or inhibiting voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels (both in the micromolar range) appear too high to be biologically relevant. We show that the effective concentration of BmP01 is highly pH-dependent-it increases by about 10-fold in inhibiting Kv channels upon a 1-U drop in pH but decreases more than 100-fold in activating TRPV1. Mechanistic investigation revealed that BmP01 binds to one of the two proton-binding sites on TRPV1 and, together with a proton, uses a one-two punch approach to strongly activate the nociceptive channel. Because most animal venoms are acidic, proton-facilitated synergistic action may represent a general strategy for maximizing toxin potency.

Concepts: Protein, Concentration, Toxin, Venom, Scorpion, Apitoxin, Toxins, Spider bite

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Snake venoms contain many proteinaceous toxins that can cause severe pathology and mortality in snakebite victims. Interestingly, mRNA encoding such toxins can be recovered directly from venom, although yields are low and quality is unknown. It also remains unclear whether such RNA contains information about toxin isoforms and whether it is representative of mRNA recovered from conventional sources, such as the venom gland. Answering these questions will address the feasibility of using venom-derived RNA for future research relevant to biomedical and antivenom applications.

Concepts: Protein, Virus, Snakebite, Toxin, Venom, Apitoxin, Toxins, Snake venom

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Component resolution recently identified distinct sensitization profiles in honey bee venom (HBV) allergy, some of which were dominated by specific IgE to Api m 3 and/or Api m 10, which have been reported to be underrepresented in therapeutic HBV preparations.

Concepts: Insect, Immunology, Honey bee, Beekeeping, Apitoxin

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Venomous animals are thought to inject the same combination of toxins for both predation and defence, presumably exploiting conserved target pharmacology across prey and predators. Remarkably, cone snails can rapidly switch between distinct venoms in response to predatory or defensive stimuli. Here, we show that the defence-evoked venom of Conus geographus contains high levels of paralytic toxins that potently block neuromuscular receptors, consistent with its lethal effects on humans. In contrast, C. geographus predation-evoked venom contains prey-specific toxins mostly inactive at human targets. Predation- and defence-evoked venoms originate from the distal and proximal regions of the venom duct, respectively, explaining how different stimuli can generate two distinct venoms. A specialized defensive envenomation strategy is widely evolved across worm, mollusk and fish-hunting cone snails. We propose that defensive toxins, originally evolved in ancestral worm-hunting cone snails to protect against cephalopod and fish predation, have been repurposed in predatory venoms to facilitate diversification to fish and mollusk diets.

Concepts: Fish, Predation, Toxin, Venom, Apitoxin, Conus, Conidae, Spider bite

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Animal venoms comprise a diversity of peptide toxins that manipulate molecular targets such as ion channels and receptors, making venom peptides attractive candidates for the development of therapeutics to benefit human health. However, identifying bioactive venom peptides remains a significant challenge. In this review we describe our particular venomics strategy for the discovery, characterization, and optimization of Terebridae venom peptides, teretoxins. Our strategy reflects the scientific path from mollusks to medicine in an integrative sequential approach with the following steps: (1) delimitation of venomous Terebridae lineages through taxonomic and phylogenetic analyses; (2) identification and classification of putative teretoxins through omics methodologies, including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics; (3) chemical and recombinant synthesis of promising peptide toxins; (4) structural characterization through experimental and computational methods; (5) determination of teretoxin bioactivity and molecular function through biological assays and computational modeling; (6) optimization of peptide toxin affinity and selectivity to molecular target; and (7) development of strategies for effective delivery of venom peptide therapeutics. While our research focuses on terebrids, the venomics approach outlined here can be applied to the discovery and characterization of peptide toxins from any venomous taxa.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Chemistry, Toxin, Venom, Apitoxin, Toxins, Spider bite

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Components from venoms have stimulated many drug discovery projects, with some notable successes. These are briefly reviewed, from captopril to ziconotide. However, there have been many more disappointments on the road from toxin discovery to approval of a new medicine. Drug discovery and development is an inherently risky business, and the main causes of failure during development programmes are outlined in order to highlight steps that might be taken to increase the chances of success with toxin-based drug discovery. These include having a clear focus on unmet therapeutic needs, concentrating on targets that are well-validated in terms of their relevance to the disease in question, making use of phenotypic screening rather than molecular-based assays, and working with development partners with the resources required for the long and expensive development process.

Concepts: Medicine, Poison, Toxin, Success, Venom, Apitoxin, The Road, Toxins