Insights into the Evolution of a Snake Venom Multi-Gene Family from the Genomic Organization of Echis ocellatus SVMP Genes.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) play key biological roles in prey immobilization and digestion. The majority of these activities depend on the hydrolysis of relevant protein substrates in the tissues. Hereby, we describe several isoforms and a cDNA clone sequence, corresponding to PII SVMP homologues from the venom of the Central American pit viper Bothriechis lateralis, which have modifications in the residues of the canonical sequence of the zinc-binding motif HEXXHXXGXXH. As a consequence, the proteolytic activity of the isolated proteins was undetectable when tested on azocasein and gelatin. These PII isoforms comprise metalloproteinase and disintegrin domains in the mature protein, thus belonging to the subclass PIIb of SVMPs. PII SVMP homologues were devoid of hemorrhagic and in vitro coagulant activities, effects attributed to the enzymatic activity of SVMPs, but induced a mild edema. One of the isoforms presents the characteristic RGD sequence in the disintegrin domain and inhibits ADP- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation. Catalytically-inactive SVMP homologues may have been hitherto missed in the characterization of snake venoms. The presence of such enzymatically-inactive homologues in snake venoms and their possible toxic and adaptive roles deserve further investigation.
Project description:Envenoming by Echis saw-scaled viper is the leading cause of death and morbidity in Africa due to snake bite. Despite its medical importance, there have been few investigations into the toxin composition of the venom of this viper. Here, we report the cloning of cDNA sequences encoding four groups or isoforms of the haemostasis-disruptive Serine protease proteins (SPs) from the venom glands of Echis ocellatus. All these SP sequences encoded the cysteine residues scaffold that form the 6-disulphide bonds responsible for the characteristic tertiary structure of venom serine proteases. All the Echis ocellatus EoSP groups showed varying degrees of sequence similarity to published viper venom SPs. However, these groups also showed marked intercluster sequence conservation across them which were significantly different from that of previously published viper SPs. Because viper venom SPs exhibit a high degree of sequence similarity and yet exert profoundly different effects on the mammalian haemostatic system, no attempt was made to assign functionality to the new Echis ocellatus EoSPs on the basis of sequence alone. The extraordinary level of interspecific and intergeneric sequence conservation exhibited by the Echis ocellatus EoSPs and analogous serine proteases from other viper species leads us to speculate that antibodies to representative molecules should neutralise (that we will exploit, by epidermal DNA immunization) the biological function of this important group of venom toxins in vipers that are distributed throughout Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In West Africa, envenoming by saw-scaled or carpet vipers (Echis ocellatus) causes great morbidity and mortality, but there is a crisis in supply of effective and affordable antivenom (ISRCTN01257358). METHODS: In a randomised, double-blind, controlled, non-inferiority trial, "EchiTAb Plus-ICP" (ET-Plus) equine antivenom made by Instituto Clodomiro Picado was compared to "EchiTAb G" (ET-G) ovine antivenom made by MicroPharm, which is the standard of care in Nigeria and was developed from the original EchiTAb-Fab introduced in 1998. Both are caprylic acid purified whole IgG antivenoms. ET-G is monospecific for Echis ocellatus antivenom (initial dose 1 vial) and ET-Plus is polyspecific for E. ocellatus, Naja nigricollis and Bitis arietans (initial dose 3 vials). Both had been screened by pre-clinical and preliminary clinical dose-finding and safety studies. Patients who presented with incoagulable blood, indicative of systemic envenoming by E. ocellatus, were recruited in Kaltungo, north-eastern Nigeria. Those eligible and consenting were randomly allocated with equal probability to receive ET-Plus or ET-G. The primary outcome was permanent restoration of blood coagulability 6 hours after the start of treatment, assessed by a simple whole blood clotting test repeated 6, 12, 18, 24 and 48 hr after treatment. Secondary (safety) outcomes were the incidences of anaphylactic, pyrogenic and late serum sickness-type antivenom reactions. FINDINGS: Initial doses permanently restored blood coagulability at 6 hours in 161/194 (83.0%) of ET-Plus and 156/206 (75.7%) of ET-G treated patients (Relative Risk [RR] 1.10 one-sided 95% CI lower limit 1.01; P = 0.05). ET-Plus caused early reactions on more occasions than did ET-G [50/194 (25.8%) and 39/206 (18.9%) respectively RR (1.36 one-sided 95% CI 1.86 upper limit; P = 0.06). These reactions were classified as severe in 21 (10.8%) and 11 (5.3%) of patients, respectively. CONCLUSION: At these doses, ET-Plus was slightly more effective but ET-G was slightly safer. Both are recommended for treating E. ocellatus envenoming in Nigeria. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN01257358.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Retrogenes generally do not contain introns. However, in some instances, retrogenes may recruit internal exonic sequences as introns, which is known as intronization. A retrogene that undergoes intronization is a good model with which to investigate the origin of introns. Nevertheless, previously, only two cases in vertebrates have been reported. RESULTS: In this study, we systematically screened the human (Homo sapiens) genome for retrogenes that evolved introns and analyzed their patterns in structure, expression and origin. In total, we identified nine intron-containing retrogenes. Alignment of pairs of retrogenes and their parents indicated that, in addition to intronization (five cases), retrogenes also may have gained introns by insertion of external sequences into the genes (one case) or reversal of the orientation of transcription (three cases). Interestingly, many intronizations were promoted not by base substitutions but by cryptic splice sites, which were silent in the parental genes but active in the retrogenes. We also observed that the majority of introns generated by intronization did not involve frameshifts. CONCLUSIONS: Intron gains in retrogenes are not as rare as previously thought. Furthermore, diverse mechanisms may lead to intron creation in retrogenes. The activation of cryptic splice sites in the intronization of retrogenes may be triggered by the change of gene structure after retroposition. A high percentage of non-frameshift introns in retrogenes may be because non-frameshift introns do not dramatically affect host proteins. Introns generated by intronization in human retrogenes are generally young, which is consistent with previous findings for Caenorhabditis elegans. Our results provide novel insights into the evolutionary role of introns.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) are widely distributed in snake venoms and are versatile toxins, targeting many important elements involved in hemostasis, such as basement membrane proteins, clotting proteins, platelets, endothelial and inflammatory cells. The functional diversity of SVMPs is in part due to the structural organization of different combinations of catalytic, disintegrin, disintegrin-like and cysteine-rich domains, which categorizes SVMPs in 3 classes of precursor molecules (PI, PII and PIII) further divided in 11 subclasses, 6 of them belonging to PII group. This heterogeneity is currently correlated to genetic accelerated evolution and post-translational modifications. RESULTS: Thirty-one SVMP cDNAs were full length cloned from a single specimen of Bothrops neuwiedi snake, sequenced and grouped in eleven distinct sequences and further analyzed by cladistic analysis. Class P-I and class P-III sequences presented the expected tree topology for fibrinolytic and hemorrhagic SVMPs, respectively. In opposition, three distinct segregations were observed for class P-II sequences. P-IIb showed the typical segregation of class P-II SVMPs. However, P-IIa grouped with class P-I cDNAs presenting a 100% identity in the 365 bp at their 5' ends, suggesting post-transcription events for interclass recombination. In addition, catalytic domain of P-IIx sequences segregated with non-hemorrhagic class P-III SVMPs while their disintegrin domain grouped with other class P-II disintegrin domains suggesting independent evolution of catalytic and disintegrin domains. Complementary regions within cDNA sequences were noted and may participate in recombination either at DNA or RNA levels. Proteins predicted by these cDNAs show the main features of the correspondent classes of SVMP, but P-IIb and P-IIx included two additional cysteines cysteines at the C-termini of the disintegrin domains in positions not yet described. CONCLUSIONS: In B. neuwiedi venom gland, class P-II SVMPs were represented by three different types of transcripts that may have arisen by interclass recombination with P-I and P-III sequences after the divergence of the different classes of SVMPs. Our observations indicate that exon shuffling or post-transcriptional mechanisms may be driving these recombinations generating new functional possibilities for this complex group of snake toxins.
Project description:Retroposition, a leading mechanism for gene duplication, is an important process shaping the evolution of genomes. Retrogenes are also involved in the gene structure evolution as a major player in the process of intron deletion. Here, we demonstrate the role of retrogenes in intron gain in mammals. We identified one case of "intronization," the transformation of exonic sequences into an intron, in the primate specific retrogene RNF113B and two independent "intronization" events in the retrogene DCAF12L2, one in the common ancestor of primates and rodents and another one in the rodent lineage. Intron gain resulted from the origin of new splice variants, and both genes have two transcript forms, one with retained intron and one with the intron spliced out. Evolution of these genes, especially RNF113B, has been very dynamic and has been accompanied by several additional events including parental gene loss, secondary retroposition, and exaptation of transposable elements.
Project description:The genetic origins of novelty are a central interest of evolutionary biology. Most new proteins evolve from preexisting proteins but the evolutionary path from ancestral gene to novel protein is challenging to trace, and therefore the requirements for and order of coding sequence changes, expression changes, or gene duplication are not clear. Snake venoms are important novel traits that are comprised of toxins derived from several distinct protein families, but the genomic and evolutionary origins of most venom components are not understood. Here, we have traced the origin and diversification of one prominent family, the snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) that play key roles in subduing prey in many vipers. Genomic analyses of several rattlesnake (Crotalus) species revealed the SVMP family massively expanded from a single, deeply conserved adam28 disintegrin and metalloproteinase gene, to as many as 31 tandem genes in the Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) through a number of single gene and multigene duplication events. Furthermore, we identified a series of stepwise intragenic deletions that occurred at different times in the course of gene family expansion and gave rise to the three major classes of secreted SVMP toxins by sequential removal of a membrane-tethering domain, the cysteine-rich domain, and a disintegrin domain, respectively. Finally, we show that gene deletion has further shaped the SVMP complex within rattlesnakes, creating both fusion genes and substantially reduced gene complexes. These results indicate that gene duplication and intragenic deletion played essential roles in the origin and diversification of these novel biochemical weapons.
Project description:The sea slug Plakobranchus ocellatus (Sacoglossa, Gastropoda) retains photosynthetically active chloroplasts from ingested algae (functional kleptoplasts) in the epithelial cells of its digestive gland for up to 10 months. While its feeding behavior has not been observed in natural habitats, two hypotheses have been proposed: 1) adult P. ocellatus uses kleptoplasts to obtain photosynthates and nutritionally behaves as a photoautotroph without replenishing the kleptoplasts; or 2) it behaves as a mixotroph (photoautotroph and herbivorous consumer) and replenishes kleptoplasts continually or periodically. To address the question of which hypothesis is more likely, we examined the source algae for kleptoplasts and temporal changes in kleptoplast composition and nutritional contribution. By characterizing the temporal diversity of P. ocellatus kleptoplasts using rbcL sequences, we found that P. ocellatus harvests kleptoplasts from at least 8 different siphonous green algal species, that kleptoplasts from more than one species are present in each individual sea slug, and that the kleptoplast composition differs temporally. These results suggest that wild P. ocellatus often feed on multiple species of siphonous algae from which they continually obtain fresh chloroplasts. By estimating the trophic position of wild and starved P. ocellatus using the stable nitrogen isotopic composition of amino acids, we showed that despite the abundance of kleptoplasts, their photosynthates do not contribute greatly to the nutrition of wild P. ocellatus, but that kleptoplast photosynthates form a significant source of nutrition for starved sea slugs. The herbivorous nature of wild P. ocellatus is consistent with insights from molecular analyses indicating that kleptoplasts are frequently replenished from ingested algae, leading to the conclusion that natural populations of P. ocellatus do not rely on photosynthesis but mainly on the digestion of ingested algae.
Project description:We report the isolation and amino acid sequences of six novel dimeric disintegrins from the venoms of Vipera lebetina obtusa (VLO), V. berus (VB), V. ammodytes (VA), Echis ocellatus (EO) and Echis multisquamatus (EMS). Disintegrins VLO4, VB7, VA6 and EO4 displayed the RGD motif and inhibited the adhesion of K562 cells, expressing the integrin alpha5beta1 to immobilized fibronectin. A second group of dimeric disintegrins (VLO5 and EO5) had MLD and VGD motifs in their subunits and blocked the adhesion of the alpha4beta1 integrin to vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 with high selectivity. On the other hand, disintegrin EMS11 inhibited both alpha5beta1 and alpha4beta1 integrins with almost the same degree of specificity. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of the dimeric disintegrins with those of other disintegrins by multiple-sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis, in conjunction with current biochemical and genetic data, supports the view that the different disintegrin subfamilies evolved from a common ADAM (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase-like) scaffold and that structural diversification occurred through disulphide bond engineering.
Project description:Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) are a superfamily of zinc-dependent proteases and participate in a number of important biological, physiological and pathophysiological processes. In this work, we simultaneously amplified nine cDNAs encoding different classes of metalloproteinases from glands of four different snake species (Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus, Crotalus atrox, Crotalus viridis viridis and Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma) by RT-PCR with a pair of primers. Among the encoded metalloproteinases, two enzymes (AclVMP-I and AplVMP-I), three enzymes (CaVMP-II, CvvVMP-II and AplVMP-II) and four enzymes (AclVMP-III, CaVMP-III, CvvVMP-III and AplVMP-III) with the characteristic motif (HEXXHXXGXXH) of metalloproteinase belong to type P-I, P-II and P-III enzymes, respectively. Disintegrin domains of CaVMP-II and CvvVMP-II from two Crotatus snakes contain RGD-motif whereas AplVMP-II from Agkistrodon snake has KGD-motif. Instead of R/KGD-motif within disintegrin domain of SVMP-II enzyme, CaVMP-III, CvvVMP-III and AplVMP-III enzymes contain SECD-motif, while AclVMP-III has DDCD-motif in their corresponding position of disintegrin-like domains. There are 12 Cys amino acids in cysterin-rich domains of each P-III enzyme. Moreover, a disintegrin precursor (AplDis) with RGD-motif also simultaneously amplified from the glands of A.p. leucostoma while amplifying AplVMP-II and AplVMP-III, which indicated that different types of SVMPs and related genes are present in a single species of snake and share a consensus sequence at the 3' and 5' untranslated regions. RT-PCR result also showed that P-III is highly expressed in Crotalus snakes than in Agkistrodon snakes. Aligning the deduced amino acid sequence of these enzymes with other SVMPs from GenBank database indicated that this is the first report on the isolation of cDNAs encoding P-II and P-III enzymes from C.v. viridis and A.p. leucostoma snakes. The availability of these SVMP sequences directly facilitated further studies of structure characterization and diversified function analysis.