Project description:Box jellyfish are extremely potent venom-producing marine organisms. While they have been found worldwide, the highest health burden has been anticipated to be the tropical Indo-Pacific of Southeast Asia (SEA). At least 12 Cubozoan species have now been documented in Thai waters, and many of them inflict acutely lethal strings, especially those under the order Chirodropida. Our previous study has successfully differentiated species of box jellyfish using DNA sequencing to support the morphological study. In this study, we specifically designed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers for the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene and the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene of lethal Thai <i>Chironex</i> species. The SYBR green-based real-time PCR panel was performed for rapid species identification. The sensitivity and specificity of the panel were determined by testing samples of different species. Moreover, we applied the panel to the tentacle sample from a real patient, which helped confirm the animal-of-cause of envenomation. Our results show a success for species identification of box jellyfish using 16S rRNA and COI PCR panel, which revealed congruence between molecular and morphological identification. Furthermore, the panel worked very well with the unknown samples and jellyfish tissue from the real envenomation case. The results demonstrated that molecular panels were able to identify three species of <i>Chironex</i> box jellyfish both rapidly and accurately, and can be performed without having a complete specimen or morphological study.
Project description:The box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri, is the largest and most dangerous cubozoan jellyfish to humans. It produces potent and rapid-acting venom and its sting causes severe localized and systemic effects that are potentially life-threatening. In this study, a combined transcriptomic and proteomic approach was used to identify C. fleckeri proteins that elicit toxic effects in envenoming.More than 40,000,000 Illumina reads were used to de novo assemble ? 34,000 contiguous cDNA sequences and ? 20,000 proteins were predicted based on homology searches, protein motifs, gene ontology and biological pathway mapping. More than 170 potential toxin proteins were identified from the transcriptome on the basis of homology to known toxins in publicly available sequence databases. MS/MS analysis of C. fleckeri venom identified over 250 proteins, including a subset of the toxins predicted from analysis of the transcriptome. Potential toxins identified using MS/MS included metalloproteinases, an alpha-macroglobulin domain containing protein, two CRISP proteins and a turripeptide-like protease inhibitor. Nine novel examples of a taxonomically restricted family of potent cnidarian pore-forming toxins were also identified. Members of this toxin family are potently haemolytic and cause pain, inflammation, dermonecrosis, cardiovascular collapse and death in experimental animals, suggesting that these toxins are responsible for many of the symptoms of C. fleckeri envenomation.This study provides the first overview of a box jellyfish transcriptome which, coupled with venom proteomics data, enhances our current understanding of box jellyfish venom composition and the molecular structure and function of cnidarian toxins. The generated data represent a useful resource to guide future comparative studies, novel protein/peptide discovery and the development of more effective treatments for jellyfish stings in humans. (Length: 300).
Project description:Box jellyfish cause human fatalities and have a life cycle and habit associated with shallow waters (<5 m) in mangrove creeks, coastal beaches, embayments. In north-western Australia, tow video and epibenthic sled surveys discovered large numbers (64 in a 1500 m tow or 0.05 m(-2)) of Chironex sp. very near to the benthos (<50 cm) at depths of 39-56 m. This is the first record of a population of box jellyfish closely associated with the benthos at such depths. Chironex were not widespread, occurring only in 2 of 33 tow videos and 3 of 41 epibenthic sleds spread over 2000 km(2). All Chironex filmed or captured were on low to medium relief reefs with rich filter feeder communities. None were on soft sediment habitat despite these habitats comprising 49% of all sites. The importance of the reef habitat to Chironex remains unclear. Being associated with filter feeder communities might represent a hazard, and other studies have shown C. fleckeri avoid habitats which represent a risk of entanglement of their tentacles. Most of our observations were made during the period of lowest tidal current flow in the morning. This may represent a period favourable for active hunting for prey close to the seabed.
Project description:The box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri produces extremely potent and rapid-acting venom that is harmful to humans and lethal to prey. Here, we describe the characterization of two C. fleckeri venom proteins, CfTX-A (?40 kDa) and CfTX-B (?42 kDa), which were isolated from C. fleckeri venom using size exclusion chromatography and cation exchange chromatography. Full-length cDNA sequences encoding CfTX-A and -B and a third putative toxin, CfTX-Bt, were subsequently retrieved from a C. fleckeri tentacle cDNA library. Bioinformatic analyses revealed that the new toxins belong to a small family of potent cnidarian pore-forming toxins that includes two other C. fleckeri toxins, CfTX-1 and CfTX-2. Phylogenetic inferences from amino acid sequences of the toxin family grouped CfTX-A, -B, and -Bt in a separate clade from CfTX-1 and -2, suggesting that the C. fleckeri toxins have diversified structurally and functionally during evolution. Comparative bioactivity assays revealed that CfTX-1/2 (25 ?g kg(-1)) caused profound effects on the cardiovascular system of anesthetized rats, whereas CfTX-A/B elicited only minor effects at the same dose. Conversely, the hemolytic activity of CfTX-A/B (HU50 = 5 ng ml(-1)) was at least 30 times greater than that of CfTX-1/2. Structural homology between the cubozoan toxins and insecticidal three-domain Cry toxins (?-endotoxins) suggests that the toxins have a similar pore-forming mechanism of action involving ?-helices of the N-terminal domain, whereas structural diversification among toxin members may modulate target specificity. Expansion of the cnidarian toxin family therefore provides new insights into the evolutionary diversification of box jellyfish toxins from a structural and functional perspective.
Project description:The nematocyst is a complex intracellular structure unique to Cnidaria. When triggered to discharge, the nematocyst explosively releases a long spiny, tubule that delivers an often highly venomous mixture of components. The box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri, produces exceptionally potent and rapid-acting venom and its stings to humans cause severe localized and systemic effects that are potentially life-threatening. In an effort to identify toxins that could be responsible for the serious health effects caused by C. fleckeri and related species, we used a proteomic approach to profile the protein components of C. fleckeri venom. Collectively, 61 proteins were identified, including toxins and proteins important for nematocyte development and nematocyst formation (nematogenesis). The most abundant toxins identified were isoforms of a taxonomically restricted family of potent cnidarian proteins. These toxins are associated with cytolytic, nociceptive, inflammatory, dermonecrotic and lethal properties and expansion of this important protein family goes some way to explaining the destructive and potentially fatal effects of C. fleckeri venom. Venom proteins and their post-translational modifications (PTMs) were further characterized using toxin-specific antibodies and phosphoprotein/glycoprotein-specific stains. Results indicated that glycosylation is a common PTM of the toxin family while a lack of cross-reactivity by toxin-specific antibodies infers there is significant divergence in structure and possibly function among family members. This study provides insight into the depth and diversity of protein toxins produced by harmful box jellyfish and represents the first description of a cubozoan jellyfish venom proteome.