Susanta Pahari from National University of Singapore, Singapore (currently working at Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College, Bangalore, India) used venom glands from a rare rattlesnake that lives in arid and desert grasslands. Known as Desert Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii), this pitviper is a subspecies of the North American Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus).
Together with Stephen Mackessy from the University of Northern Colorado, USA and R. Manjunatha Kini from National University of Singapore, Singapore, Pahari constructed a cDNA library of the snake's venom gland and created 576 tagged sequences. A cocktail of recognized venom toxin sequences was detected in the library, but the venom also contained three-finger toxin-like transcripts, a family of poisons thought only to occur in another family of snakes (Elapidae). The team also spotted a novel toxin-like transcript generated by the fusion of two individual toxin genes, a mechanism not previously observed in toxin evolution. Toxin diversity is usually the result of gene duplication and subsequently neofunctionalization is achieved through several point mutations (called accelerated evolution) on the surface of the protein. Pahari says "In addition to gene duplication, exon shuffling or transcriptional splicing may also contribute to generating the diversity of toxins and toxin isoforms observed among snake venoms."
Previously, researchers identified venom compounds using protein chemistry or individual gene cloning methods. However, less abundant toxins were often missed. The library method has now revealed new toxin genes and even new families of toxins. Taking low abundance toxins into consideration shows advanced snakes' venoms actually have a greater similarity than previously recognized.
Snake venoms are complex mixtures of pharmacologically active proteins and peptides. Treating snake venom victims can be complicated because of the variation between venoms even within snake families. Kini says "Such a diversity of toxins provides a gold mine of bioactive polypeptides, which could aid the development of novel therapeutic agents."
Charlotte Webber | alfa
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses