Australian Scorpion Hormurus waigiensis Venom Fractions Show Broad Bioactivity Through Modulation of Bio-Impedance and Cytosolic Calcium.
ABSTRACT: Scorpion venoms are a rich source of bioactive molecules, but characterisation of toxin peptides affecting cytosolic Ca2+, central to cell signalling and cell death, is limited. We undertook a functional screening of the venom of the Australian scorpion Hormurus waigiensis to determine the breadth of Ca2+ mobilisation. A human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cell line stably expressing the genetically encoded Ca2+ reporter GCaMP5G and the rabbit type 1 ryanodine receptor (RyR1) was developed as a biosensor. Size-exclusion Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography separated the venom into 53 fractions, constituting 12 chromatographic peaks. Liquid chromatography mass spectroscopy identified 182 distinct molecules with 3 to 63 components per peak. The molecular weights varied from 258 Da-13.6 kDa, with 53% under 1 kDa. The majority of the venom chromatographic peaks (tested as six venom pools) were found to reversibly modulate cell monolayer bioimpedance, detected using the xCELLigence platform (ACEA Biosciences). Confocal Ca2+ imaging showed 9/14 peak samples, with molecules spanning the molecular size range, increased cytosolic Ca2+ mobilization. H. waigiensis venom Ca2+ activity was correlated with changes in bio-impedance, reflecting multi-modal toxin actions on cell physiology across the venom proteome.
Project description:The ICK (inhibitor cystine knot) defines a large superfamily of polypeptides with high structural stability and functional diversity. Here, we describe a new scorpion venom-derived K+ channel toxin (named ?-MeuKTx-1) with an ICK fold through gene cloning, chemical synthesis, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Ca2+ release measurements and electrophysiological recordings. ?-MeuKTx-1 was found to adopt an ICK fold that contains a three-strand anti-parallel ?-sheet and a 310-helix. Functionally, this peptide selectively inhibits the Drosophila Shaker K+ channel but is not capable of activating skeletal-type Ca2+ release channels/ryanodine receptors, which is remarkably different from the previously known scorpion venom ICK peptides. The removal of two C-terminal residues of ?-MeuKTx-1 led to the loss of the inhibitory activity on the channel, whereas the C-terminal amidation resulted in the emergence of activity on four mammalian K+ channels accompanied by the loss of activity on the Shaker channel. A combination of structural and pharmacological data allows the recognition of three putative functional sites involved in channel blockade of ?-MeuKTx-1. The presence of a functional dyad in ?-MeuKTx-1 supports functional convergence among scorpion venom peptides with different folds. Furthermore, similarities in precursor organization, exon-intron structure, 3D-fold and function suggest that scorpion venom ICK-type K+ channel inhibitors and Ca2+ release channel activators share a common ancestor and their divergence occurs after speciation between buthidae and non-buthids. The structural and functional characterizations of the first scorpion venom ICK toxin with K+ channel-blocking activity sheds light on functionally divergent and convergent evolution of this conserved scaffold of ancient origin.
Project description:Martentoxin (MarTX), a 37-residue peptide purified from the venom of East-Asian scorpion (Buthus martensi Karsch), was capable of blocking large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (BK) channels. Here, we report an effective expression and purification approach for this toxin. The cDNA encoding martentoxin was expressed by the prokaryotic expression system pGEX-4T-3 which was added an enterokinase cleavage site by PCR. The fusion protein (GST-rMarTX) was digested by enterokinase to release hetero-expressed toxin and further purified via reverse-phase HPLC. The molecular weight of the hetero-expressed rMarTX was 4059.06 Da, which is identical to that of the natural peptide isolated from scorpion venom. Functional characterization through whole-cell patch clamp showed that rMarTX selectively and potently inhibited the currents of neuronal BK channels (α + β4) (IC50 = 186 nM), partly inhibited mKv1.3, but hardly having any significant effect on hKv4.2 and hKv3.1a even at 10 μM. Successful expression of martentoxin lays basis for further studies of structure-function relationship underlying martentoxin or other potassium-channel specific blockers.
Project description:This communication reports a further examination of venom gland transcripts and venom composition of the Mexican scorpion Thorellius atrox using RNA-seq and tandem mass spectrometry. The RNA-seq, which was performed with the Illumina protocol, yielded more than 20,000 assembled transcripts. Following a database search and annotation strategy, 160 transcripts were identified, potentially coding for venom components. A novel sequence was identified that potentially codes for a peptide with similarity to spider ?-agatoxins, which act on voltage-gated calcium channels, not known before to exist in scorpion venoms. Analogous transcripts were found in other scorpion species. They could represent members of a new scorpion toxin family, here named omegascorpins. The mass fingerprint by LC-MS identified 135 individual venom components, five of which matched with the theoretical masses of putative peptides translated from the transcriptome. The LC-MS/MS de novo sequencing allowed to reconstruct and identify 42 proteins encoded by assembled transcripts, thus validating the transcriptome analysis. Earlier studies conducted with this scorpion venom permitted the identification of only twenty putative venom components. The present work performed with more powerful and modern omic technologies demonstrates the capacity of accomplishing a deeper characterization of scorpion venom components and the identification of novel molecules with potential applications in biomedicine and the study of ion channel physiology.
Project description:Ts3 is an alpha scorpion toxin from the venom of the Brazilian scorpion Tityus serrulatus. Ts3 binds to the domain IV voltage sensor of voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav ) and slows down their fast inactivation. The covalent structure of the Ts3 toxin is uncertain, and the structure of the folded protein molecule is unknown. Herein, we report the total chemical synthesis of four candidate Ts3 toxin protein molecules and the results of structure-activity studies that enabled us to establish the covalent structure of biologically active Ts3 toxin. We also report the synthesis of the mirror image form of the Ts3 protein molecule, and the use of racemic protein crystallography to determine the folded (tertiary) structure of biologically active Ts3 toxin by X-ray diffraction.
Project description:Scorpion sting envenoming impacts millions of people worldwide, with cardiac effects being one of the main causes of death on victims. Here we describe the first Ca2+ channel toxin present in Tityus serrulatus (Ts) venom, a cell penetrating peptide (CPP) named CPP-Ts. We show that CPP-Ts increases intracellular Ca2+ release through the activation of nuclear InsP3R of cardiomyocytes, thereby causing an increase in the contraction frequency of these cells. Besides proposing a novel subfamily of Ca2+ active toxins, we investigated its potential use as a drug delivery system targeting cancer cell nucleus using CPP-Ts's nuclear-targeting property. To this end, we prepared a synthetic CPP-Ts sub peptide14-39 lacking pharmacological activity which was directed to the nucleus of specific cancer cell lines. This research identifies a novel subfamily of Ca2+ active toxins and provides new insights into biotechnological applications of animal venoms.
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.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Scorpion venom contains insect and mammal selective toxins. We investigated the venom of the South Indian red scorpion, Mesobuthus tamulus for the purpose of identifying potent insecticidal peptide toxins. RESULTS:A lepidopteran-selective toxin (Buthus tamulus insect toxin; ButaIT) has been isolated from this venom. The primary structure analysis reveals that it is a single polypeptide composed of 37 amino acids cross-linked by four disulfide bridges with high sequence homology to other short toxins such as Peptide I, neurotoxin P2, Lqh-8/6, chlorotoxin, insectotoxin I5A, insect toxin 15 and insectotoxin I1. Three dimensional modeling using Swiss automated protein modeling server reveals that this toxin contains a short alpha-helix and three antiparallel beta-strands, similar to other short scorpion toxins. This toxin is selectively active on Heliothis virescens causing flaccid paralysis but was non-toxic to blowfly larvae and mice. CONCLUSION:This is the first report of a Heliothine selective peptide toxin. Identification of diverse insect selective toxins offer advantages in employing these peptides selectively for pest control.
Project description:Scorpion sting-induced human envenomation provokes an intense inflammatory reaction. However, the mechanisms behind the recognition of scorpion venom and the induction of mediator release in mammalian cells are unknown. We demonstrated that TLR2, TLR4 and CD14 receptors sense Tityus serrulatus venom (TsV) and its major component, toxin 1 (Ts1), to mediate cytokine and lipid mediator production. Additionally, we demonstrated that TsV induces TLR2- and TLR4/MyD88-dependent NF-?B activation and TLR4-dependent and TLR2/MyD88-independent c-Jun activation. Similar to TsV, Ts1 induces MyD88-dependent NF-?B phosphorylation via TLR2 and TLR4 receptors, while c-Jun activation is dependent on neither TLR2 nor TLR4/MyD88. Therefore, we propose the term venom-associated molecular pattern (VAMP) to refer to molecules that are introduced into the host by stings and are recognized by PRRs, resulting in inflammation.
Project description:Scorpion venom may cause severe medical complications and untimely death if injected into the human body. Neurotoxins are the main components of scorpion venom that are known to be responsible for the pathological manifestations of envenoming. Besides neurotoxins, a wide range of other bioactive molecules can be found in scorpion venoms. Advances in separation, characterization, and biotechnological approaches have enabled not only the development of more effective treatments against scorpion envenomings, but have also led to the discovery of several scorpion venom peptides with interesting therapeutic properties. Thus, scorpion venom may not only be a medical threat to human health, but could prove to be a valuable source of bioactive molecules that may serve as leads for the development of new therapies against current and emerging diseases. This review presents both the detrimental and beneficial properties of scorpion venom toxins and discusses the newest advances within the development of novel therapies against scorpion envenoming and the therapeutic perspectives for scorpion toxins in drug discovery.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Lychas mucronatus is one scorpion species widely distributed in Southeast Asia and southern China. Anything is hardly known about its venom components, despite the fact that it can often cause human accidents. In this work, we performed a venomous gland transcriptome analysis by constructing and screening the venom gland cDNA library of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from Yunnan province and compared it with the previous results of Hainan-sourced Lychas mucronatus. RESULTS: A total of sixteen known types of venom peptides and proteins are obtained from the venom gland cDNA library of Yunnan-sourced Lychas mucronatus, which greatly increase the number of currently reported scorpion venom peptides. Interestingly, we also identified nineteen atypical types of venom molecules seldom reported in scorpion species. Surprisingly, the comparative transcriptome analysis of Yunnan-sourced Lychas mucronatus and Hainan-sourced Lychas mucronatus indicated that enormous diversity and vastly abundant difference could be found in venom peptides and proteins between populations of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from different geographical regions. CONCLUSIONS: This work characterizes a large number of venom molecules never identified in scorpion species. This result provides a comparative analysis of venom transcriptomes of the scorpion Lychas mucronatus from different geographical regions, which thoroughly reveals the fact that the venom peptides and proteins of the same scorpion species from different geographical regions are highly diversified and scorpion evolves to adapt a new environment by altering the primary structure and abundance of venom peptides and proteins.