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J Proteomics. 2012 Jul 16;75(13):4091-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2012.05.026. Epub 2012 May 27.

Snake venomics of two poorly known Hydrophiinae: Comparative proteomics of the venoms of terrestrial Toxicocalamus longissimus and marine Hydrophis cyanocinctus.

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Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Valencia, Spain.


The venom proteomes of Toxicocalamus longissimus and Hydrophis cyanocinctus, a fossorial and a marine species, respectively, of the Hydrophiinae genus of Elapidae, were investigated by Edman degradation of RP-HPLC isolated proteins, and de novo MS/MS sequencing of in-gel derived tryptic peptide ions. The toxin arsenal of T. longissimus is made up of 1-2 type-I PLA(2) molecules, which account for 6.5% of the venom proteins, a minor PIII-SVMP (1.4% of the venom toxins), and ~20 members of the 3FTx family comprising 92% of the venom proteome. Seventeen proteins (5 type-I PLA(2)s and 12 3FTxs) were found in the venom of H. cyanocinctus. Three-finger toxins and type-I PLA(2) proteins comprise, respectively, 81% and 19% of its venom proteome. The simplicity of the H. cyanocinctus venom proteome is highlighted by the fact that only 6 venom components (3 short-chain neurotoxins, two long-chain neurotoxins, and one PLA(2) molecule) exhibit relative abundances >5%. As expected from its high neurotoxin abundance, the LD(50) for mice of H. cyanocinctus venom was fairly low, 0.132μg/g (intravenous) and 0.172μg/g (intraperitoneal). Our data indicate that specialization towards a lethal cocktail of 3FTx and type-I PLA(2) molecules may represent a widely adopted trophic solution throughout the evolution of Elapidae. Our results also points to a minimization of the molecular diversity of the toxin arsenal of the marine snake Hydrophis cyanocinctus in comparison to the venom proteome of its terrestrial relatives, and highlight that the same evolutionary solution, economy of the toxin arsenal, has been convergently adopted by different taxa in response to opposite selective pressures, loss and gain of neurotoxicity.

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