17 January, 2017

On the venom of Superstitionia donensis

There has been and is a lot of research on scorpion venoms, but the majority of these studies have been on species in the family Buthidae. Several families are not represented in the venom literature at all. Carlos E. Santibáñez-López and co-workers have now published a study on the venom of the enigmatic scorpion Superstitionia donensis Stahnke, 1940 (Superstitioniidae).

Venom gland transcriptomic and proteomic analyses have improved our knowledge on the diversity of the heterogeneous components present in scorpion venoms. However, most of these studies have focused on species from the family Buthidae. To gain insights into the molecular diversity of the venom components of scorpions belonging to the family Superstitioniidae, one of the neglected scorpion families, we performed a transcriptomic and proteomic analyses for the species Superstitionia donensis. The total mRNA extracted from the venom glands of two specimens was subjected to massive sequencing by the Illumina protocol, and a total of 219,073 transcripts were generated. We annotated 135 transcripts putatively coding for peptides with identity to known venom components available from different protein databases. Fresh venom collected by electrostimulation was analyzed by LC-MS/MS allowing the identification of 26 distinct components with sequences matching counterparts from the transcriptomic analysis. In addition, the phylogenetic affinities of the found putative calcins, scorpines, La1-like peptides and potassium channel toxins were analyzed. The first three components are often reported as ubiquitous in the venom of different families of scorpions. Our results suggest that, at least calcins and scorpines, could be used as molecular markers in phylogenetic studies of scorpion venoms.

Santibanez-Lopez CE, Cid-Uribe JI, Batista CV, Ortiz E, Possani LD. Venom Gland Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses of the Enigmatic Scorpion Superstitionia donensis (Scorpiones: Superstitioniidae), with Insights on the Evolution of Its Venom Components. Toxins (Basel). 2016;8(12). [Open Access]

Thanks to Carlos E. Santibáñez-López for sending me their article!

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