Screening and Validation of Highly-Efficient Insecticidal Conotoxins from a Transcriptome-Based Dataset of Chinese Tubular Cone Snail.
ABSTRACT: Most previous studies have focused on analgesic and anti-cancer activities for the conotoxins identified from piscivorous and molluscivorous cone snails, but little attention has been devoted to insecticidal activity of conotoxins from the dominant vermivorous species. As a representative vermivorous cone snail, the Chinese tubular cone snail (Conus betulinus) is the dominant Conus species inhabiting the South China Sea. We sequenced related venom transcriptomes from C. betulinus using both the next-generation sequencing and traditional Sanger sequencing technologies, and a comprehensive library of 215 conotoxin transcripts was constructed. In our current study, six conotoxins with potential insecticidal activity were screened out from our conotoxin library by homologous search with a reported positive control (alpha-conotoxin ImI from C. imperialis) as the query. Subsequently, these conotoxins were synthesized by chemical solid-phase and oxidative folding for further insecticidal activity validation, such as MTT assay, insect bioassay and homology modeling. The final results proved insecticidal activities of our achieved six conotoxins from the transcriptome-based dataset. Interestingly, two of them presented a lot of high insecticidal activity, which supports their usefulness for a trial as insecticides in field investigations. In summary, our present work provides a good example for high throughput development of biological insecticides on basis of the accumulated genomic resources.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The venom of predatory marine cone snails mainly contains a diverse array of unique bioactive peptides commonly referred to as conopeptides or conotoxins. These peptides have proven to be valuable pharmacological probes and potential drugs because of their high specificity and affinity to important ion channels, receptors and transporters of the nervous system. Most previous studies have focused specifically on the conopeptides from piscivorous and molluscivorous cone snails, but little attention has been devoted to the dominant vermivorous species. RESULTS:The vermivorous Chinese tubular cone snail, Conus betulinus, is the dominant Conus species inhabiting the South China Sea. The transcriptomes of venom ducts and venom bulbs from a variety of specimens of this species were sequenced using both next-generation sequencing and traditional Sanger sequencing technologies, resulting in the identification of a total of 215 distinct conopeptides. Among these, 183 were novel conopeptides, including nine new superfamilies. It appeared that most of the identified conopeptides were synthesized in the venom duct, while a handful of conopeptides were identified only in the venom bulb and at very low levels. CONCLUSIONS:We identified 215 unique putative conopeptide transcripts from the combination of five transcriptomes and one EST sequencing dataset. Variation in conopeptides from different specimens of C. betulinus was observed, which suggested the presence of intraspecific variability in toxin production at the genetic level. These novel conopeptides provide a potentially fertile resource for the development of new pharmaceuticals, and a pathway for the discovery of new conotoxins.
Project description:Conus ateralbus is a cone snail endemic to the west side of the island of Sal, in the Cabo Verde Archipelago off West Africa. We describe the isolation and characterization of the first bioactive peptide from the venom of this species. This 30AA venom peptide is named conotoxin AtVIA (?-conotoxin-like). An excitatory activity was manifested by the peptide on a majority of mouse lumbar dorsal root ganglion neurons. An analog of AtVIA with conservative changes on three amino acid residues at the C-terminal region was synthesized and this analog produced an identical effect on the mouse neurons. AtVIA has homology with ?-conotoxins from other worm-hunters, which include conserved sequence elements that are shared with ?-conotoxins from fish-hunting Conus. In contrast, there is no comparable sequence similarity with ?-conotoxins from the venoms of molluscivorous Conus species. A rationale for the potential presence of ?-conotoxins, that are potent in vertebrate systems in two different lineages of worm-hunting cone snails, is discussed.
Project description:Cone snails are a diverse group of predatory marine invertebrates that deploy remarkably complex venoms to rapidly paralyse worm, mollusc or fish prey. ?-Conotoxins are neurotoxic peptides from cone snail venoms that inhibit Cav2.2 voltage-gated calcium channel, demonstrating potential for pain management via intrathecal (IT) administration. Here, we isolated and characterized two novel ?-conotoxins, MoVIA and MoVIB from Conus moncuri, the first to be identified in vermivorous (worm-hunting) cone snails. MoVIA and MoVIB potently inhibited human Cav2.2 in fluorimetric assays and rat Cav2.2 in patch clamp studies, and both potently displaced radiolabeled ?-conotoxin GVIA (125I-GVIA) from human SH-SY5Y cells and fish brain membranes (IC50 2-9?pM). Intriguingly, an arginine at position 13 in MoVIA and MoVIB replaced the functionally critical tyrosine found in piscivorous ?-conotoxins. To investigate its role, we synthesized MoVIB-[R13Y] and MVIIA-[Y13R]. Interestingly, MVIIA-[Y13R] completely lost Cav2.2 activity and MoVIB-[R13Y] had reduced activity, indicating that Arg at position 13 was preferred in these vermivorous ?-conotoxins whereas tyrosine 13 is preferred in piscivorous ?-conotoxins. MoVIB reversed pain behavior in a rat neuropathic pain model, confirming that vermivorous cone snails are a new source of analgesic ?-conotoxins. Given vermivorous cone snails are ancestral to piscivorous species, our findings support the repurposing of defensive venom peptides in the evolution of piscivorous Conidae.
Project description:Some venomous cone snails feed on small fishes using an immobilizing combination of synergistic venom peptides that target Kv and Nav channels. As part of this envenomation strategy, ?-conotoxins are potent ichtyotoxins that enhance Nav channel function. ?-Conotoxins belong to an ancient and widely distributed gene superfamily, but any evolutionary link from ancestral worm-eating cone snails to modern piscivorous species has not been elucidated. Here, we report the discovery of SuVIA, a potent vertebrate-active ?-conotoxin characterized from a vermivorous cone snail (Conus suturatus). SuVIA is equipotent at hNaV1.3, hNaV1.4 and hNaV1.6 with EC50s in the low nanomolar range. SuVIA also increased peak hNaV1.7 current by approximately 75% and shifted the voltage-dependence of activation to more hyperpolarized potentials from -15 mV to -25 mV, with little effect on the voltage-dependence of inactivation. Interestingly, the proximal venom gland expression and pain-inducing effect of SuVIA in mammals suggest that ?-conotoxins in vermivorous cone snails play a defensive role against higher order vertebrates. We propose that ?-conotoxins originally evolved in ancestral vermivorous cones to defend against larger predators including fishes have been repurposed to facilitate a shift to piscivorous behaviour, suggesting an unexpected underlying mechanism for this remarkable evolutionary transition.
Project description:Cone snails are gastropod mollusks of the genus Conus that live in tropical marine habitats. They are predators that paralyze their prey by injection of venom containing a plethora of small, conformationally constrained peptides (conotoxins). We report the identification, characterization, and structure of a gamma-carboxyglutamic acid-containing peptide, conotoxin epsilon-TxIX, isolated from the venom of the molluscivorous cone snail, Conus textile. The disulfide bonding pattern of the four cysteine residues, an unparalleled degree of posttranslational processing including bromination, hydroxylation, and glycosylation define a family of conotoxins that may target presynaptic Ca2+ channels or act on G protein-coupled presynaptic receptors via another mechanism. This conotoxin selectively reduces neurotransmitter release at an Aplysia cholinergic synapse by reducing the presynaptic influx of Ca2+ in a slow and reversible fashion. The three-dimensional structure, determined by two-dimensional 1H NMR spectroscopy, identifies an electronegative patch created by the side chains of two gamma-carboxyglutamic acid residues that extend outward from a cavernous cleft. The glycosylated threonine and hydroxylated proline enclose a localized hydrophobic region centered on the brominated tryptophan residue within the constrained intercysteine region.
Project description:Conotoxins in the venom of cone snails (Conus spp.) are a mixture of active peptides that work as blockers, agonists, antagonists, or inactivators of various ion channels. Recently we reported a high-throughput method to identify 215 conotoxin transcripts from the Chinese tubular cone snail, C. betulinus. Here, based on the previous datasets of four transcriptomes from three venom ducts and one venom bulb, we explored ion channel-based conotoxins and predicted their related ion channel receptors. Homologous analysis was also performed for the most abundant ion channel protein, voltage-gated potassium (Kv; with Kv1.1 as the representative), and the most studied ion channel receptor, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR; with ?2-nAChR as the representative), in different animals. Our transcriptomic survey demonstrated that ion channel-based conotoxins and related ion channel proteins/receptors transcribe differentially between the venom duct and the venom bulb. In addition, we observed that putative ?-conotoxins were the most common conotoxins with the highest transcription levels in the examined C. betulinus. Furthermore, Kv1.1 and ?2-nAChR were conserved in their functional domains of deduced protein sequences, suggesting similar effects of conotoxins via the ion channels in various species, including human beings. In a word, our present work suggests a high-throughput way to develop conotoxins as potential drugs for treatment of ion channel-associated human diseases.
Project description:Complete mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) sequence of a worm-hunting cone snail, Conus quercinus, was reported in this study. Its mitogenome, the longest one (16,460 bp) among reported Conus specie, is composed of 13 protein-coding genes (PCGs), 22 transfer RNA (tRNA) genes, two ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes and one D-loop region. The mitochondrial gene arrangement is highly-conserved and identical to other reported. However, the D-loop region of C. quercinus is the longest (943 bp) with the higher A+T content (71.3%) and a long AT tandem repeat stretch (68 bp). Subsequent phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that three different dietary types (vermivorous, molluscivorous and piscivorous) of cone snails are clustered separately, suggesting that the phylogenetics of cone snails is related to their dietary types. In conclusion, our current work improves our understanding of the mitogenomic structure and evolutionary status of the vermivorous C. quercinus, which support the putative hypothesis that the Conus ancestor was vermivorous.
Project description:The venom of each Conus species consists of a diverse array of neurophysiologically active peptides, which are mostly unique to the examined species. In this study, we performed high-throughput transcriptome sequencing to extract and analyze putative conotoxin transcripts from the venom ducts of 3 vermivorous cone snails (C. caracteristicus, C. generalis, and C. quercinus), which are resident in offshore waters of the South China Sea. In total, 118, 61, and 48 putative conotoxins (across 22 superfamilies) were identified from the 3 Conus species, respectively; most of them are novel, and some possess new cysteine patterns. Interestingly, a series of 45 unassigned conotoxins presented with a new framework of C-C-C-C-C-C, and their mature regions were sufficiently distinct from any other known conotoxins, most likely representing a new superfamily. O- and M-superfamily conotoxins were the most abundant in transcript number and transcription level, suggesting their critical roles in the venom functions of these vermivorous cone snails. In addition, we identified numerous functional proteins with potential involvement in the biosynthesis, modification, and delivery process of conotoxins, which may shed light on the fundamental mechanisms for the generation of these important conotoxins within the venom duct of cone snails.
Project description:The primary objective of this study was to realize the large-scale discovery of conotoxin sequences from different organs (including the venom duct, venom bulb and salivary gland) of the vermivorous Oak cone snail, Conus quercinus. Using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing, we identified 133 putative conotoxins that belong to 34 known superfamilies, of which nine were previously reported while the remaining 124 were novel conotoxins, with 17 in new and unassigned conotoxin groups. A-, O?-, M-, and I?- superfamilies were the most abundant, and the cysteine frameworks XIII and VIII were observed for the first time in the A- and I?-superfamilies. The transcriptome data from the venom duct, venom bulb and salivary gland showed considerable inter-organizational variations. Each organ had many exclusive conotoxins, and only seven of all the inferred mature peptides were common in the three organs. As expected, most of the identified conotoxins were synthesized in the venom duct at relatively high levels; however, a number of conotoxins were also identified in the venom bulb and the salivary gland with very low transcription levels. Therefore, various organs have different conotoxins with high diversity, suggesting greater contributions from several organs to the high-throughput discovery of new conotoxins for future drug development.
Project description:The venom of various Conus species is composed of a rich variety of unique bioactive peptides, commonly referred to as conotoxins (conopeptides). Most conopeptides have specific receptors or ion channels as physiologically relevant targets. In this paper, high-throughput transcriptome sequencing was performed to analyze putative conotoxin transcripts from the venom duct of a vermivorous cone snail species, Conus litteratus native to the South China Sea. A total of 128 putative conotoxins were identified, most of them belonging to 22 known superfamilies, with 43 conotoxins being regarded as belonging to new superfamilies. Notably, the M superfamily was the most abundant in conotoxins among the known superfamilies. A total of 15 known cysteine frameworks were also described. The largest proportion of cysteine frameworks were VI/VII (C-C-CC-C-C), IX (C-C-C-C-C-C) and XIV (C-C-C-C). In addition, five novel cysteine patterns were also discovered. Simple sequence repeat detection results showed that di-nucleotide was the major type of repetition, and the codon usage bias results indicated that the codon usage bias of the conotoxin genes was weak, but the M, O1, O2 superfamilies differed in codon preference. Gene cloning indicated that there was no intron in conotoxins of the B1- or J superfamily, one intron with 1273-1339 bp existed in a mature region of the F superfamily, which is different from the previously reported gene structure of conotoxins from other superfamilies. This study will enhance our understanding of conotoxin diversity, and the new conotoxins discovered in this paper will provide more potential candidates for the development of pharmacological probes and marine peptide drugs.