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Mol Biol Evol. 2016 Nov;33(11):2924-2934. Epub 2016 Aug 14.

Venom Insulins of Cone Snails Diversify Rapidly and Track Prey Taxa.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark helena.safavi@utah.edu.
2
School of Life Sciences and Technology, Institute of Protein Research, Tongji University, Shanghai, China.
3
Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.
4
A.N. Severtzov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Science, Leninsky Prospect, Moscow, Russia.
5
University of Guam Marine Laboratory, Agana, Guam.
6
Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.
7
Eccles Institute of Human Genetics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT USTAR Center for Genetic Discovery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Abstract

A specialized insulin was recently found in the venom of a fish-hunting cone snail, Conus geographus Here we show that many worm-hunting and snail-hunting cones also express venom insulins, and that this novel gene family has diversified explosively. Cone snails express a highly conserved insulin in their nerve ring; presumably this conventional signaling insulin is finely tuned to the Conus insulin receptor, which also evolves very slowly. By contrast, the venom insulins diverge rapidly, apparently in response to biotic interactions with prey and also possibly the cones' own predators and competitors. Thus, the inwardly directed signaling insulins appear to experience predominantly purifying sele\ction to target an internal receptor that seldom changes, while the outwardly directed venom insulins frequently experience directional selection to target heterospecific insulin receptors in a changing mix of prey, predators and competitors. Prey insulin receptors may often be constrained in ways that prevent their evolutionary escape from targeted venom insulins, if amino-acid substitutions that result in escape also degrade the receptor's signaling functions.

KEYWORDS:

diversification; insulin gene family; venom

PMID:
27524826
PMCID:
PMC5062327
DOI:
10.1093/molbev/msw174
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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