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Toxicon. 2005 Mar 1;45(3):273-83. Epub 2004 Dec 10.

The Brazilian scorpion Tityus costatus Karsch: genes, peptides and function.

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Department of Molecular Medicine and Bioprocesses, Institute of Biotechnology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Avenida Universidad 2001, Apartado Postal 510-3, Cuernavaca 62210, Mexico.


The venom of the scorpion Tityus costatus contains peptides toxic to humans but scarce information on their structure and function is available. Here, we report the separation of 50 different components by high performance liquid chromatography and the identification of approximately 90 distinct components by mass spectrometry analysis, with molecular weights varying from 413 to 45482 atomic mass units. Four peptides were fully sequenced: (i) a butantoxin-like peptide that blocks Shaker K+ channel; (ii) an insect toxin-like peptide; (iii) a scorpine-like peptide, and a short heptapeptide of unknown function. Fifteen peptides were directly sequenced at the N-terminal region, among which are components toxic to mice. A cDNA library was constructed and 13 clones were isolated and sequenced. Some of these peptides and genes are similar to other known scorpion toxins. Based on these results, stings by scorpions of the species Tityus costatus should be taken with caution by medical doctors.

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