Post-transcriptional Mechanisms Contribute Little to Phenotypic Variation in Snake Venoms.
ABSTRACT: Protein expression is a major link in the genotype-phenotype relationship, and processes affecting protein abundances, such as rates of transcription and translation, could contribute to phenotypic evolution if they generate heritable variation. Recent work has suggested that mRNA abundances do not accurately predict final protein abundances, which would imply that post-transcriptional regulatory processes contribute significantly to phenotypes. Post-transcriptional processes also appear to buffer changes in transcriptional patterns as species diverge, suggesting that the transcriptional changes have little or no effect on the phenotypes undergoing study. We tested for concordance between mRNA and protein expression levels in snake venoms by means of mRNA-seq and quantitative mass spectrometry for 11 snakes representing 10 species, six genera, and three families. In contrast to most previous work, we found high correlations between venom gland transcriptomes and venom proteomes for 10 of our 11 comparisons. We tested for protein-level buffering of transcriptional changes during species divergence by comparing the difference between transcript abundance and protein abundance for three pairs of species and one intraspecific pair. We found no evidence for buffering during divergence of our three species pairs but did find evidence for protein-level buffering for our single intraspecific comparison, suggesting that buffering, if present, was a transient phenomenon in venom divergence. Our results demonstrated that post-transcriptional mechanisms did not contribute significantly to phenotypic evolution in venoms and suggest a more prominent and direct role for cis-regulatory evolution in phenotypic variation, particularly for snake venoms.
Project description:Protein expression is a major link in the genotype-phenotype relationship, and processes affecting protein abundances, such as rates of transcription and translation, could contribute to phenotypic evolution if they generate heritable variation. Recent work has suggested that mRNA abundances do not accurately predict final protein abundances, which would imply that post-transcriptional regulatory processes contribute significantly to phenotypes. Post-transcriptional processes also appear to buffer changes in transcriptional patterns as species diverge, suggesting that the transcriptional changes have little or no effect on the phenotypes under study. We tested for concordance between mRNA and protein expression levels in snake venoms by means of mRNA-seq and quantitative mass spectrometry for 11 snakes representing 10 species, six genera, and three families. In contrast to most previous work, we found high correlations between venom-gland transcriptomes and venom proteomes for ten of our 11 comparisons. We tested for protein-level buffering of transcriptional changes during species divergence by comparing the difference between transcript abundance and protein abundance for three pairs of species and one intraspecific pair. We found no evidence for buffering during divergence of our three species pairs but did find evidence for protein-level buffering for our single intraspecific comparison, suggesting that buffering, if present, was a transient phenomenon in venom divergence. Our results demonstrated that post-transcriptional mechanisms did not contribute significantly to phenotypic evolution in venoms and suggest a more prominent and direct role for cis-regulatory evolution in phenotypic variation, particularly for snake venoms.
Project description:A long-standing question in evolutionary studies of snake venoms is the extent to which phylogenetic divergence and diet can account for between-species differences in venom composition. Here we apply phylogeny-based comparative methods to address this question. We use data on venom variation generated using proteomic techniques for all members of a small clade of rattlesnakes (Sistrurus sp.) and two outgroups for which phylogenetic and diet information is available. We first complete the characterization of venom variation for all members of this clade with a "venomic" analysis of pooled venoms from two members of this genus, S. milarius streckeri and S. m. milarius. These venoms exhibit the same general classes of proteins as those found in other Sistrurus species but differ in their relative abundances of specific protein families. We then test whether there is significant phylogenetic signal in the relative abundances of major venom proteins across species and if diet (measured as percent mammals and lizards among all prey consumed) covaries with venom composition after phylogenetic divergence is accounted for. We found no evidence for significant phylogenetic signal in venom variation: K values for seven snake venom proteins and two composite venom variables [PC 1 and 2]) were all nonsignificant and lower (mean?=?0.11+0.06 sd) than mean K values (>0.35) previously reported for a wide range of morphological, life history, physiological and behavioral traits from other species. Finally, analyses based on Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squares (PGLS) methods reveal that variation in abundance of some venom proteins, most strongly CRISP is significantly related to snake diet. Our results demonstrate that venom variation in these snakes is evolutionarily a highly labile trait even among very closely-related taxa and that natural selection acting through diet variation may play a role in molding the relative abundance of specific venom proteins.
Project description:The protein abundances of phospholipases A? in cobra venom proteomes appear to vary among cobra species. To determine the unique distribution of snake venom phospholipases A? (svPLA?) in the cobras, the svPLA? activities for 15 cobra species were examined with an acidimetric and a colorimetric assay, using egg yolk suspension and 4-nitro-3-octanoyloxy benzoic acid (NOBA) as the substrate. The colorimetric assay showed significant correlation between svPLA? enzymatic activities with the svPLA? protein abundances in venoms. High svPLA? activities were observed in the venoms of Asiatic spitting cobras (Naja sputatrix, Naja sumatrana) and moderate activities in Asiatic non-spitters (Naja naja, Naja atra, Naja kaouthia), African spitters (subgenus Afronaja), and forest cobra (subgenus Boulengerina). African non-spitting cobras of subgenus Uraeus (Naja haje, Naja annulifera, Naja nivea, Naja senegalensis) showed exceptionally low svPLA? enzymatic activities. The negligible PLA? activity in Uraeus cobra venoms implies that PLA? may not be ubiquitous in all snake venoms. The svPLA? in cobra envenoming varies depending on the cobra species. This may potentially influence the efficacy of cobra antivenom in specific use for venom neutralization.
Project description:Snake species within the Bothrops complex (sensu lato) are of medical relevance in Latin America, but knowledge on their venom characteristics is limited, or even unavailable, for some taxa. Perú harbors 17 species of pit vipers, within the genera Bothrops, Bothriechis, Bothrocophias, Porthidium, Crotalus, and Lachesis. This study compared the venoms of twelve species, through chromatographic and electrophoretic profiles, as well as proteolytic and phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activities. Also, proteomic profiles were analyzed for nine of the venoms using a shotgun approach. Results unveiled conspicuous differences in the expression of venom PLA2s among species, six of them presenting scarce levels as judged by RP-HPLC profiles. Since most species within the bothropoid lineage possess venoms with high to intermediate abundances of this protein family, our findings suggest the existence of a phenotypic duality in the expression of venom PLA2s within the Bothrops (sensu lato) complex. Bothrops barnetti and Bothrocophias andianus venoms, very scarce in PLA2s, were shown to lack significant myotoxic activity, highlighting that the observed variability in PLA2 expression bears toxicological correlations with effects attributed to these proteins. Finally, an attempt to identify phylogenetic relationships of bothropoid species from Perú presenting low- or high-PLA2 venom phenotypes showed an interspersed pattern, thus precluding a simple phylogenetic interpretation of this venom compositional dichotomy.
Project description:The complexity of snake venoms has long been investigated to explore a myriad of biologically active proteins and peptides that are used for immobilizing or killing prey, and are responsible for the pathological effects observed on envenomation. Glycosylation is the main post-translational modification (PTM) of viperid venoms but currently there is little understanding of how protein glycosylation impacts the variation of venom proteomes. We have previously reported that Bothrops venom glycoproteomes contain a core of components that markedly define their composition and parallel their phylogenetic classification. Here we extend those observations to eight Bothrops species evaluating the N-glycomes by LC-MS as assigned cartoon structures and detailing those structures separately as methylated analogs using ion-trap mass spectrometry (MSn). Following ion disassembly through multiple steps provided sequence and linkage isomeric details that characterized 52 unique compositions in Bothrops venoms. These occurred as 60 structures, of which 26 were identified in the venoms of the Jararaca Complex (B. alcatraz, B. insularis, and B. jararaca), 20 in B. erythromelas, B. jararacussu, B. moojeni and B. neuwiedi venoms, and 22 in B. cotiara venom. Further, quantitative analysis of these N-glycans showed variable relative abundances in the venoms. For the first time a comprehensive set of N-glycan structures present in snake venoms are defined. Despite the fact that glycosylation is not template-defined, the N-glycomes of these venoms mirror the phylogeny cladograms of South American bothropoid snakes reported in studies on morphological, molecular data and feeding habits, exhibiting distinct molecular signatures for each venom. Considering the complexity of N-glycan moieties generally found in glycoproteins, characterized by different degrees of branching, isomer structures, and variable abundances, our findings point to these factors as another level of complexity in Bothrops venoms, features that could dramatically contribute to their distinct biological activities.
Project description: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 access to cDNA sequences in the absence of living specimens, even from commercial venom sources, to evaluate important regional differences in venom composition and to study snake venom protein evolution.
Project description:The venom proteome of the poorly studied desert coral snake Micrurus tschudii tschudii was unveiled using a venomic approach, which identified ?38 proteins belonging to only four snake venom protein families. The three-finger toxins (3FTxs) constitute, both in number of isoforms (~30) and total abundance (93.6% of the venom proteome), the major protein family of the desert coral snake venom. Phospholipases A? (PLA?s; seven isoforms, 4.1% of the venom proteome), 1-3 Kunitz-type proteins (1.6%), and 1-2 l-amino acid oxidases (LAO, 0.7%) complete the toxin arsenal of M. t. tschudii. Our results add to the growing evidence that the occurrence of two divergent venom phenotypes, i.e., 3FTx- and PLA?-predominant venom proteomes, may constitute a general trend across the cladogenesis of Micrurus. The occurrence of a similar pattern of venom phenotypic variability among true sea snake (Hydrophiinae) venoms suggests that the 3FTx/PLA? dichotomy may be widely distributed among Elapidae venoms.
Project description:Elapid snake venom is a highly valuable, but till now mainly unexplored, source of pharmacologically important peptides. We analyzed the peptide fractions with molecular masses up to 10 kDa of two elapid snake venoms-that of the African cobra, N. m. mossambica (genus Naja), and the Peninsula tiger snake, N. scutatus, from Kangaroo Island (genus Notechis). A combination of chromatographic methods was used to isolate the peptides, which were characterized by combining complimentary mass spectrometric techniques. Comparative analysis of the peptide compositions of two venoms showed specificity at the genus level. Three-finger (3-F) cytotoxins, bradykinin-potentiating peptides (BPPs) and a bradykinin inhibitor were isolated from the Naja venom. 3-F neurotoxins, Kunitz/basic pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI)-type inhibitors and a natriuretic peptide were identified in the N. venom. The inhibiting activity of the peptides was confirmed in vitro with a selected array of proteases. Cytotoxin 1 (P01467) from the Naja venom might be involved in the disturbance of cellular processes by inhibiting the cell 20S-proteasome. A high degree of similarity between BPPs from elapid and viperid snake venoms was observed, suggesting that these molecules play a key role in snake venoms and also indicating that these peptides were recruited into the snake venom prior to the evolutionary divergence of the snakes.
Project description:The spine-bellied sea snake (Hydrophis curtus) is known to cause human deaths, yet its venom composition has not yet been proteomically characterised. An indepth proteomic analysis was performed on H. curtus venom from two different seasons, January and June, corresponding to adults and subadults, respectively. Venoms from adult and subadult H. curtus individuals were compared using reversedphase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC), matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS) to detect intraspecific variation, and the molecular weight data obtained with ESIMS were used to assess toxin diversity. RPHPLC and LCESIMS/MS were used to characterise the venom proteome and estimate the relative abundances of protein families present. The most abundant protein family in January and June venoms is phospholipase A₂ (PLA₂: January 66.7%; June 54.5%), followed by threefinger toxins (3FTx: January 30.4%; June 40.4%) and a minor component of cysteine-rich secretory proteins (CRISP: January 2.5%; June 5%). Trace amounts of snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMP), C-type lectins and housekeeping and regulatory proteins were also found. Although the complexity of the venom is low by number of families present, each family contained a more diverse set of isoforms than previously reported, a finding that may have implications for the development of next-generation sea snake antivenoms. Intraspecific variability was shown to be minor with one obvious exception of a 14,157-Da protein that was present in some January (adult) venoms, but not at all in June (subadult) venoms. There is also a greater abundance of short-chain neurotoxins in June (subadult) venom compared with January (adult) venom. These differences potentially indicate the presence of seasonal, ontogenetic or sexual variation in H. curtus venom.
Project description:Gene duplication followed by functional divergence has long been hypothesized to be the main source of molecular novelty. Convincing examples of neofunctionalization, however, remain rare. Snake venom phospholipase A2 genes are members of large multigene families with many diverse functions, thus they are excellent models to study the emergence of novel functions after gene duplications.Here, I show that positive Darwinian selection and neofunctionalization is common in snake venom phospholipase A2 genes. The pattern of gene duplication and positive selection indicates that adaptive molecular evolution occurs immediately after duplication events as novel functions emerge and continues as gene families diversify and are refined. Surprisingly, adaptive evolution of group-I phospholipases in elapids is also associated with speciation events, suggesting adaptation of the phospholipase arsenal to novel prey species after niche shifts. Mapping the location of sites under positive selection onto the crystal structure of phospholipase A2 identified regions evolving under diversifying selection are located on the molecular surface and are likely protein-protein interactions sites essential for toxin functions.These data show that increases in genomic complexity (through gene duplications) can lead to phenotypic complexity (venom composition) and that positive Darwinian selection is a common evolutionary force in snake venoms. Finally, regions identified under selection on the surface of phospholipase A2 enzymes are potential candidate sites for structure based antivenin design.