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Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;147(1):85-95. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

Nucleotidase and DNase activities in Brazilian snake venoms.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pathophysiology, Institute Butantan, Brazil.


Among the myriad of enzymes present in animal venoms, nucleotidases and nucleases are poorly investigated. Herein, we studied such enzymes in 28 crude venoms of animals found in Brazil. Higher levels of ATPase, 5'-nucleotidase, ADPase, phosphodiesterase and DNase activities were observed in snake venoms belonging to Bothrops, Crotalus and Lachesis genera than to Micrurus genus. The venom of Bothrops brazili snake showed the highest nucleotidase and DNase activities, whereas that of Micrurus frontalis snake the highest alkaline phosphatase activity. On the other hand, the venoms of the snake Philodryas olfersii and the spider Loxosceles gaucho were devoid of most nucleotidase and DNase activities. Species that exhibited similar nucleotidase activities by colorimetric assays showed different banding pattern by zymography, suggesting the occurrence of structural differences among them. Hydrolysis of nucleotides showed that 1 mol of ATP is cleaved in 1 mol of pyrophosphate and 1 mol of orthophosphate, whereas 1 mol of ADP is cleaved exclusively in 2 mol of orthophosphates. Pyrophosphate is barely hydrolyzed by snake venoms. Phosphodiesterase activity was better correlated with 5'-nucleotidase, ADPase and ATPase activities than with DNase activity, evidencing that phosphodiesterases are not the main agent of DNA hydrolysis in animal venoms. The omnipresence of nucleotidase and DNase activities in viperid venoms implies a role for them within the repertoire of enzymes involved in immobilization and death of preys.

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