A Novel Defensin-Like Peptide Associated with Two Other New Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides in Transcriptome of the Iranian Scorpion Venom.
ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION:Scorpion venom is a source of bioactive peptides, and some antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have been found in the venom gland of scorpions. Therefore, the discovery of new anti-infective agents is an essential need to overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance of clinical isolates. Here, we describe three new cationic AMPs, including meuVAP-6, meuAP-18-1, and meuPep34 from the venom gland of the Iranian scorpion, Mesobuthus eupeus. METHODS:The cDNA sequences encoding all the three peptides were obtained from the cDNA library of scorpion venom gland and were deposited in the GenBank database. RESULTS:MeuVAP-6 and meuAP-18-1 are non-disulphide-bridged antimicrobial peptides, while meuPep34 is a cysteine-rich defensin-like peptide. DISCUSSION:All three identified AMPs are rich in arginine and tryptophan. The overall results from the length, net charge, and hydrophobicity index suggested that meuPep34 could be the most active AMPs with the potential ability of biofilm inhibition. The data from molecular characterization of identified AMPs can provide a platform for further investigations in the drug design.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Scorpion venom glands produce some antimicrobial peptides (AMP) that can rapidly kill a broad range of microbes and have additional activities that impact on the quality and effectiveness of innate responses and inflammation. OBJECTIVES:In this study, we reported the identification of a cDNA sequence encoding cysteine-free antimicrobial peptides isolated from venomous glands of this species. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Total RNA was extracted from the Iranian mesobuthus eupeus venom glands, and cDNA was synthesized by using the modified oligo (dT). The cDNA was used as the template for applying Semi-nested RT- PCR technique. PCR Products were used for direct nucleotide sequencing and the results were compared with Gen Bank database. RESULTS:A 213 BP cDNA fragment encoding the entire coding region of an antimicrobial toxin from the Iranian scorpion M. Eupeus venom glands were isolated. The full-length sequence of the coding region was 210 BP contained an open reading frame of 70 amino with a predicted molecular mass of 7970.48 Da and theoretical Pi of 9.10. The open reading frame consists of 210 BP encoding a precursor of 70 amino acid residues, including a signal peptide of 23 residues a propertied of 7 residues, and a mature peptide of 34 residues with no disulfide bridge. The peptide has detectable sequence identity to the Lesser Asian mesobuthus eupeus MeVAMP-2 (98%), MeVAMP-9 (60%) and several previously described AMPs from other scorpion venoms including mesobuthus martensii (94%) and buthus occitanus Israelis (82%). CONCLUSIONS:The secondary structure of the peptide mainly consisted of ?-helical structure which was generally conserved by previously reported scorpion counterparts. The phylogenetic analysis showed that the Iranian MeAMP-like toxin was similar but not identical with that of venom antimicrobial peptides from lesser Asian scorpion mesobuthus eupeus.
Project description:Scorpions are generally an important source of bioactive components, including toxins and other small peptides as attractive molecules for new drug development. Mesobuthus eupeus, from medically important and widely distributed Buthidae family, is the most abundant species in Iran. Researchers are interesting on the gland of this scorpion due to the complexity of its venom. Here, we have analyzed the transcriptome based on expressed sequence tag (EST) database from the venom tissue of Iranian M. eupeus by constructing a cDNA library and subsequent Sanger sequencing of obtained inserts. Sixty-three unique transcripts were identified, which were grouped in different categories, including Toxins (44 transcripts), Cell Proteins (9 transcripts), Antimicrobial Peptides (4 transcripts) and Unknown Peptides (3 transcripts). The analysis of the ESTs revealed several new components categorized among various toxin families with effect on ion channels. Sequence analysis of a new precursor provides evidence to validate the first CaTxs from M. eupeus. The results are exploration of the diversity of precursors expressed of Iranian M. eupeus venom gland. We further described comparative analysis of venom components of Iranian M. eupeus with other sibling species.
Project description:Animal venoms are a mixture of peptides and proteins that serve two basic biological functions: predation and defense against both predators and microbes. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a common component extensively present in various scorpion venoms (herein abbreviated as svAMPs). However, their roles in predation and defense against predators and potential as drugs are poorly understood. Here, we report five new venom peptides with antimicrobial activity from two Mesobuthus scorpion species. These ?-helical linear peptides displayed highly bactericidal activity toward all the Gram-positive bacteria used here but differential activity against Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. In addition to the antibiotic activity, these AMPs displayed lethality to houseflies and hemotoxin-like toxicity on mice by causing hemolysis, tissue damage and inducing inflammatory pain. Unlike AMPs from other origins, these venom-derived AMPs seem to be unsuitable as anti-infective drugs due to their high hemolysis and low serum stability. However, MeuTXK?1, a known two-domain Mesobuthus AMP, is an exception since it exhibits high activity toward antibiotic resistant Staphylococci clinical isolates with low hemolysis and high serum stability. The findings that the classical AMPs play predatory and defensive roles indicate that the multifunctionality of scorpion venom components is an intrinsic feature likely evolved by natural selection from microbes, prey and predators of scorpions. This definitely provides an excellent system in which one can study how a protein adaptively evolves novel functions in a new environment. Meantimes, new strategies are needed to remove the toxicity of svAMPs on eukaryotic cells when they are used as leads for anti-infective drugs.
Project description:<h4>Objectives</h4>Annually, 1.2 million humans are stung by scorpions and severely affected by their venom. Some of the scorpion species of medical importance have a similar morphology to species with low toxicity. To establish diagnostic tools for surveying scorpions, the current study was conducted to generate three mitochondrial markers, Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI gene), 12S rDNA and 16S rDNA for six species of medically important Iranian scorpions: Androctonus crassicauda, Hottentotta saulcyi, Mesobuthus caucasicus, M. eupeus, Odontobuthus doriae, and Scorpio maurus.<h4>Results</h4>Phylogenetic analyses of the obtained sequences corroborated the morphological identification. For the first time, 12S rDNA sequences are reported from Androctonus crassicauda, Hottentotta saulcyi, Mesobuthus caucasicus and M. eupeus and also the 16S rDNA sequence from Hottentotta saulcyi. We conclude that the mitochondrial markers are useful for species determination among these medically important species of scorpions.
Project description:The lesser Asian scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus (Buthidae) is one of the most widely spread and dispersed species of the Mesobuthus genus, and its venom is actively studied. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of active compounds is still under-investigated due to the high complexity of this venom. Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of putative potassium channel toxins (KTxs) from the cDNA library of M. eupeus venom glands, and we compare the deduced KTx structures with peptides purified from the venom. For the transcriptome analysis, we used conventional tools as well as a search for structural motifs characteristic of scorpion venom components in the form of regular expressions. We found 59 candidate KTxs distributed in 30 subfamilies and presenting the cysteine-stabilized ?/? and inhibitor cystine knot types of fold. M. eupeus venom was then separated to individual components by multistage chromatography. A facile fluorescent system based on the expression of the KcsA-Kv1.1 hybrid channels in Escherichia coli and utilization of a labeled scorpion toxin was elaborated and applied to follow Kv1.1 pore binding activity during venom separation. As a result, eight high affinity Kv1.1 channel blockers were identified, including five novel peptides, which extend the panel of potential pharmacologically important Kv1 ligands. Activity of the new peptides against rat Kv1.1 channel was confirmed (IC50 in the range of 1-780 nm) by the two-electrode voltage clamp technique using a standard Xenopus oocyte system. Our integrated approach is of general utility and efficiency to mine natural venoms for KTxs.
Project description:Highly acidic peptides with no disulfide bridges are widely present in the scorpion venoms; however, none of them has been functionally characterized so far. Here, we cloned the full-length cDNA of a short-chain highly acidic peptide (referred to as HAP-1) from a cDNA library made from the venom glands of the Chinese scorpion Mesobuthus martensii Karsch. HAP-1 contains 19 amino acid residues with a predicted IP value of 4.25. Acidic amino residues account for 33.3% of the total residues in the molecule of HAP-1. HAP-1 shows 76?98% identities to some scorpion venom peptides that have not yet been functionally characterized. Secondary structure prediction showed that HAP-1 contains a beta-sheet region (residues 9?17), and two coiled coil regions (residues 1?8 and 18?19) located at the N-terminal and C-terminal regions of the peptide, respectively. Antimicrobial assay showed that HAP-1 does not have any effect on the growth of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus AB94004. However, it potently inhibits the antimicrobial activity of a 13-mer peptide from M. martensii Karsch against Staphylococcus aureus AB94004. This finding is the first characterization of the function of such highly acidic peptides from scorpions.
Project description: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 bioactive compounds that could be used to seed research into new pharmacological compounds and increase our understanding of the function of different ion channels.
Project description:Chloride channels have already been over-expressed in the different types of cancer. Chlorotoxins, as the blocking agent of these channels, have been indicated to be an effective drug against tumors. In this study, we characterized a putative chlorotoxin from a cDNA library of the venom glands obtained from the Iranian scorpion Odontobuthus doriae.A cDNA library was constructed from venom gland transcriptome of six scorpions. The cDNA encoding Odontobuthus doriae chlorotoxin was isolated from the library, and its putative peptide was characterized by some bioinformatics software such as protein blast, SignalP4.0, DISULFIND and Clustal Omega.The mature Odontobuthus doriae chlorotoxin peptide has a 35-amino-acid residue and four disulfide bounds. This putative chlorotoxin is a small, compact, and stable molecule. Moreover, based on the open reading frame sequence similarity, this peptide is similar to Buthus martensii Karsch chlorotoxin like toxin and Bm12-b neurotoxins from the Chinese scorpion Mesobuthus martensii.The small size of this putative chlorotoxin and its stability make it as a suitable candidate for medical and pharmacological research, especially in the cancer research.
Project description:The spread of multidrug-resistant human pathogens has drawn attention towards antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are major players in the innate immune systems of many organisms, including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and microbes. Scorpion venom is an abundant source of novel and potent AMPs. Here, we investigated natural and engineered AMPs from the scorpions Urodacus yaschenkoi and U. manicatus to determine their antimicrobial spectra as well as their hemolytic/cytotoxic activity. None of the AMPs were active against fungi, but many of them were active at low concentrations (0.25-30 µM) against seven different bacteria. Hemolytic and cytotoxic activities were determined using pig erythrocytes and baby hamster kidney cells, respectively. The amino acid substitutions in the engineered AMPs did not inhibit cytotoxicity, but reduced hemolysis and therefore increased the therapeutic indices. The phylogenetic analysis of scorpion AMPs revealed they are closely related and the GXK motif is highly conserved. The engineered scorpion AMPs offer a promising alternative for the treatment of multidrug-resistant bacterial infections and could be modified further to reduce their hemolytic/cytotoxic activity.
Project description:The episodic nature of natural selection and the accumulation of extreme sequence divergence in venom-encoding genes over long periods of evolutionary time can obscure the signature of positive Darwinian selection. Recognition of the true biocomplexity is further hampered by the limited taxon selection, with easy to obtain or medically important species typically being the subject of intense venom research, relative to the actual taxonomical diversity in nature. This holds true for scorpions, which are one of the most ancient terrestrial venomous animal lineages. The family Buthidae that includes all the medically significant species has been intensely investigated around the globe, while almost completely ignoring the remaining non-buthid families. Australian scorpion lineages, for instance, have been completely neglected, with only a single scorpion species (Urodacus yaschenkoi) having its venom transcriptome sequenced. Hence, the lack of venom composition and toxin sequence information from an entire continent's worth of scorpions has impeded our understanding of the molecular evolution of scorpion venom. The molecular origin, phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary histories of most scorpion toxin scaffolds remain enigmatic. In this study, we have sequenced venom gland transcriptomes of a wide taxonomical diversity of scorpions from Australia, including buthid and non-buthid representatives. Using state-of-art molecular evolutionary analyses, we show that a majority of CS?/? toxin scaffolds have experienced episodic influence of positive selection, while most non-CS?/? linear toxins evolve under the extreme influence of negative selection. For the first time, we have unraveled the molecular origin of the major scorpion toxin scaffolds, such as scorpion venom single von Willebrand factor C-domain peptides (SV-SVC), inhibitor cystine knot (ICK), disulphide-directed beta-hairpin (DDH), bradykinin potentiating peptides (BPP), linear non-disulphide bridged peptides and antimicrobial peptides (AMP). We have thus demonstrated that even neglected lineages of scorpions are a rich pool of novel biochemical components, which have evolved over millions of years to target specific ion channels in prey animals, and as a result, possess tremendous implications in therapeutics.