Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cone of poison: The secret behind the cone snail's venom pump

Scientists have discovered the secret of how an amazing sea snail injects its venom after shooting a harpoon-like tooth into its prey — or some unlucky swimmer — at jetliner speeds.

The creatures, called cone snails, use a highly specialized structure that instantly pumps the paralyzing venom through the tooth and into its target. Their study appears in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Helena Safavi-Hemami, Anthony Purcell and colleagues note that cone snails live mainly in the shallows of the world's tropical oceans. Prized by sea-shell collectors for their beautiful shells, the snails are up to 9 inches long. Their mouths have a blow-gun-like structure that shoots a barbed dart-like "tooth" at about 400 miles per hour.

The tooth injects venom into fish, worms, or other prey. The snails occasionally sting swimmers, causing pain and sometimes death. They can reload the shooter with additional harpoons. The venom is produced in the venom duct, a long tube attached to the harpoon on one end and to the venom bulb in the snail's mouth.

The scientists' analysis of proteins in venom bulbs found high concentrations of arginine kinase, a protein that enables squid and scallops to swim away from danger with extreme speed. Its abundance in the bulb suggests that arginine kinase enables the venom bulb to undergo rapid, repeated contractions to quickly force the venom through the venom duct to the harpoon and into the prey, the scientists say. The scientists also identified specialized muscles in the venom bulb that appear to aid in this process.

"Proteomic interrogation of venom delivery in marine cone snails – Novel insights into the role of the venom bulb"
Anthony Wayne Purcell, Ph.D.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Melbourne
Victoria, Australia
Phone: (+61 3) 8344 2288

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Make way for the mini flying machines

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>