Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tentacles of venom: new study reveals all octopuses are venomous.

16.04.2009
Once thought to be only the realm of the blue-ringed octopus, researchers have now shown that all octopuses and cuttlefish, and some squid are venomous.

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
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne
Email: bgf@unimelb.edu.au

Nerissa Hannink | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unimelb.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>