Molecular Diversity and Gene Evolution of the Venom Arsenal of Terebridae Predatory Marine Snails.
Bottom Line: Phylogenetic methodology was used to identify 14 teretoxin gene superfamilies for the first time, 13 of which are unique to the Terebridae.Additionally, basic local algorithm search tool homology-based searches to venom-related genes and posttranslational modification enzymes identified a convergence of certain venom proteins, such as actinoporin, commonly found in venoms.This research provides novel insights into venom evolution and recruitment in Conoidean predatory marine snails and identifies a plethora of terebrid venom peptides that can be used to investigate fundamental questions pertaining to gene evolution.
Affiliation: Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York Invertebrate Zoology, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York.Show MeSH
Mentions: With the decreasing costs and increasing efficiency of next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques, molecular and functional genomic studies enable venomous taxa, such as the predatory snails of the Conoidea superfamily, to become model organisms in the drug discovery arena (fig. 1). The globally distributed Conoidea, which includes Conidae (∼800 species), Terebridae (∼400 species), and Turridae (∼3,000 species), is one of the most diverse groups of venomous organisms in the marine realm and the enormous variety of conoidean venom peptide toxins greatly outnumber that of snakes, a pharmaceutical industry favorite due to ease of collection and quantity of available venom (Escoubas and King 2009). The Conoidea, divided into 16 families, have been perfecting the art of the hunt for over 50 Myr (Bandyopadhyay et al. 2006; Puillandre et al. 2008; Bouchet et al. 2011). A notable example of cone snail venom characterization is the discovery and development of the analgesic therapeutic ziconotide (Prialt, Jazz Pharmaceuticals) (Miljanich 1997, 2004; Olivera 2000). Given their potential, cone snails and conotoxins have been investigated for several decades, but represent only a fraction of the species richness found in the larger Conoidean superfamily. Characterization of the monophyletic Terebridae, an understudied and very diverse lineage of Conoidea, would identify venom peptides distinct from cone snails that can be used to study molluscan species and venom diversification, as well as to provide new compounds for biomedical drug discovery and development (Holford, Puillandre, Terryn, et al. 2009).Fig. 1.—
Affiliation: Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York Invertebrate Zoology, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York.