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J Proteome Res. 2006 Sep;5(9):2098-112.

Venom proteomes of closely related Sistrurus rattlesnakes with divergent diets.

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Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, C.S.I.C., Jaume Roig 11, 46010 Valencia, Spain.


The protein composition of the venoms of the three subspecies of Sistrurus catenatus (S. c. catenatus, tergeminus, and edwardsii) and a basal species, Sistrurus miliarius barbouri, were analyzed by RP-HPLC, N-terminal sequencing, MALDI-TOF peptide mass fingerprinting, and CID-MS/MS. The venoms of the four Sistrurus taxa contain proteins from 11 families. The protein family profile and the relative abundance of each protein group in the different venoms are not conserved. Myotoxins and 2-chain PLA2s were detected only in S.c. catenatus and S.c. tergeminus, whereas C-type BPP and Kunitz-type inhibitors were exclusively found in S.c. edwardsii and Sistrurus miliarius barbouri. Among major protein families, taxa were most similar in their metalloproteases (protein similarity coefficient value: 34%) and most divergent in PLA2s (12%), with values for disintegrins and serine proteases lying between these extremes (25 and 20%, respectively). The patterns of venom diversity points to either a gain in complexity in S. catenatus taxa or a loss of venom diversity occurring early on in the evolution of the group involving the lineage connecting S. milarius to the other taxa. The high degree of differentiation in the venom proteome among recently evolved congeneric taxa emphasizes the uniqueness of the venom composition of even closely related species that have different diets. Comparative proteomic analysis of Sistrurus venoms provides a comprehensive catalog of secreted proteins, which may contribute to a deeper understanding of the biology and ecology of these North American snakes and may also serve as a starting point for studying structure-function correlations of individual toxins.

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