The work indicates that they all share a common, ancient venomous ancestor and highlights new avenues for drug discovery.
Conducted by scientists from the University of Melbourne, University of Brussels and Museum Victoria, the study was published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution.
Dr Bryan Fry from the Department of Biochemistry at the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne said that while the blue-ringed octopus species remain the only group that aredangerous to humans, the other species have been quietly using their venom for predation, such as paralysing a clam into opening its shell.
“Venoms are toxic proteins with specialised functions such as paralysing the nervous system” he said.
“We hope that by understanding the structure and mode of action of venom proteins we can benefit drug design for a range of conditions such as pain management, allergies and cancer.”
While many creatures have been examined as a basis for drug development, cephalopods (octopuses, cuttlefish and squid) remain an untapped resource and their venom may represent a unique class of compounds.
Dr Fry obtained tissue samples from cephalopods ranging from Hong Kong, the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica. The team then analysed the genes for venom production from the different species and found that a venomous ancestor produced one set of venom proteins, but over time additional proteins were added to the chemical arsenal.
The origin of these genes also sheds light on the fundamentals of evolution, presenting a prime example of convergent evolution where species independently develop similar traits. The team will now work on understanding why very different types of venomous animals seem to consistently settle on the similar venom protein composition, and which physical or chemical properties make them predisposed to be useful as toxin.
“Not only will this allow us to understand how these animals have assembled their arsenals, but it will also allow us to better exploit them in the development of new drugs from venoms,” said Dr Fry.
“It does not seem a coincidence that some of the same protein types have been recruited for use as toxins across the animal kingdom.”
For more information:Dr Bryan Fry
Nerissa Hannink | EurekAlert!
What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering