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J Proteomics. 2013 Aug 26;89:141-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Functional proteomic approach to discover geographic variations of king cobra venoms from Southeast Asia and China.

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.


This study deciphers the geographic variations of king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) venom using functional proteomics. Pooled samples of king cobra venom (abbreviated as Ohv) were obtained from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and two provinces of China, namely Guangxi and Hainan. Using two animal models to test and compare the lethal effects, we found that the Chinese Ohvs were more fatal to mice, while the Southeast Asian Ohvs were more fatal to lizards (Eutropis multifasciata). Various phospholipases A2 (PLA2s), three-finger toxins (3FTxs) and Kunitz-type inhibitors were purified from these Ohvs and compared. Besides the two Chinese Ohv PLA2s with known sequences, eight novel PLA2s were identified from the five Ohv samples and their antiplatelet activities were compared. While two 3FTxs (namely oh-55 and oh-27) were common in all the Ohvs, different sets of 3FTx markers were present in the Chinese and Southeast Asian Ohvs. All the Ohvs contain the Kunitz inhibitor, OH-TCI, while only the Chinese Ohvs contain the inhibitor variant, Oh11-1. Relative to the Chinese Ohvs which contained more phospholipases, the Southeast Asian Ohvs had higher metalloproteinase, acetylcholine esterase, and alkaline phosphatase activities.


Remarkable variations in five king cobra geographic samples reveal fast evolution and dynamic translational regulation of the venom which probably adapted to different prey ecology as testified by the lethal tests on mice and lizards. Our results predict possible variations of the king cobra envenoming to human and the importance of using local antivenin for snakebite treatment.


3FTx; ALP; BCA; King cobra; L-dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine; LAAO; Ohv; Ophiophagus hannah; Ophiophagus hannah venom; PLA(2); Phospholipases A(2); Taxa-dependent lethality; Three-finger toxins; Venom geographic variations; alkaline phosphatase; bicinchoninic acid; dPPC; l-amino acid oxidase; phospholipase A(2); three-finger toxin

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