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BMC Genet. 2011 Nov 1;12:94. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-12-94.

Diversity of metalloproteinases in Bothrops neuwiedi snake venom transcripts: evidences for recombination between different classes of SVMPs.

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  • 1Laboratório de Imunopatologia, Instituto Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil.



Snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) are widely distributed in snake venoms and are versatile toxins, targeting many important elements involved in hemostasis, such as basement membrane proteins, clotting proteins, platelets, endothelial and inflammatory cells. The functional diversity of SVMPs is in part due to the structural organization of different combinations of catalytic, disintegrin, disintegrin-like and cysteine-rich domains, which categorizes SVMPs in 3 classes of precursor molecules (PI, PII and PIII) further divided in 11 subclasses, 6 of them belonging to PII group. This heterogeneity is currently correlated to genetic accelerated evolution and post-translational modifications.


Thirty-one SVMP cDNAs were full length cloned from a single specimen of Bothrops neuwiedi snake, sequenced and grouped in eleven distinct sequences and further analyzed by cladistic analysis. Class P-I and class P-III sequences presented the expected tree topology for fibrinolytic and hemorrhagic SVMPs, respectively. In opposition, three distinct segregations were observed for class P-II sequences. P-IIb showed the typical segregation of class P-II SVMPs. However, P-IIa grouped with class P-I cDNAs presenting a 100% identity in the 365 bp at their 5' ends, suggesting post-transcription events for interclass recombination. In addition, catalytic domain of P-IIx sequences segregated with non-hemorrhagic class P-III SVMPs while their disintegrin domain grouped with other class P-II disintegrin domains suggesting independent evolution of catalytic and disintegrin domains. Complementary regions within cDNA sequences were noted and may participate in recombination either at DNA or RNA levels. Proteins predicted by these cDNAs show the main features of the correspondent classes of SVMP, but P-IIb and P-IIx included two additional cysteines cysteines at the C-termini of the disintegrin domains in positions not yet described.


In B. neuwiedi venom gland, class P-II SVMPs were represented by three different types of transcripts that may have arisen by interclass recombination with P-I and P-III sequences after the divergence of the different classes of SVMPs. Our observations indicate that exon shuffling or post-transcriptional mechanisms may be driving these recombinations generating new functional possibilities for this complex group of snake toxins.

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