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Toxicon. 2003 Sep 15;42(4):381-90.

Identification of alpha-bungarotoxin (A31) as the major postsynaptic neurotoxin, and complete nucleotide identity of a genomic DNA of Bungarus candidus from Java with exons of the Bungarus multicinctus alpha-bungarotoxin (A31) gene.

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Zentrum der Rechtsmedizan, Klinikum der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universit├Ąt, Kennedyallee 104, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The Malayan krait (Bungarus candidus) is one of the most medically significant snake species in Southeast Asia. No specific antivenom exists to treat envenoming by this species. Death within 30 min after its bite has been reported from Java, suggesting the presence of highly lethal postsynaptic neurotoxins in the venom of these snakes. We purified and identified the major postsynaptic toxin in the venom of B. candidus from Java. The toxin was indistinguishable from alpha-bungarotoxin (A31), a toxin originally isolated from Bungarus multicinctus, in its mass (7983.75 Da), LD50 (0.23 microg/g in mice i.p.), affinity to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and by its 40 N-terminal amino acid residues as determined by Edman degradation. Identity with alpha-bungarotoxin was confirmed by cloning and sequencing a genomic DNA from B. candidus which encodes the 74 amino acid sequence of alpha-bungarotoxin (A31) and part of its signal peptide, revealing complete identity to the alpha-bungarotoxin (A31) gene in exon and 98.9% identity in intron sequences. The entire mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of the krait species B. candidus from Java and B. multicinctus from Taiwan was sequenced for comparison, suggesting that these snakes are phylogenetically closely related. alpha-Bungarotoxin appears to be widely present and conserved in Southeast and East Asian black-and-white kraits across populations and taxa.

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