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Toxins 2011, 3(3), 309-344; doi:10.3390/toxins3030309
Review

Brown Spider (Loxosceles genus) Venom Toxins: Tools for Biological Purposes

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 and 1,*
1 Department of Cell Biology, Federal University of Paraná, CEP 81531-980 Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil 2 Department of Structural, Molecular Biology and Genetics, State University of Ponta Grossa, CEP 84030-900 Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil 3 Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute, CEP 80250-060 Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil 4 Catholic University of Paraná, Health and Biological Sciences Institute, CEP 80215-901 Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 December 2010 / Revised: 26 February 2011 / Accepted: 17 March 2011 / Published: 22 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spider Venoms)
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Abstract

Venomous animals use their venoms as tools for defense or predation. These venoms are complex mixtures, mainly enriched of proteic toxins or peptides with several, and different, biological activities. In general, spider venom is rich in biologically active molecules that are useful in experimental protocols for pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology and immunology, as well as putative tools for biotechnology and industries. Spider venoms have recently garnered much attention from several research groups worldwide. Brown spider (Loxosceles genus) venom is enriched in low molecular mass proteins (5–40 kDa). Although their venom is produced in minute volumes (a few microliters), and contain only tens of micrograms of protein, the use of techniques based on molecular biology and proteomic analysis has afforded rational projects in the area and permitted the discovery and identification of a great number of novel toxins. The brown spider phospholipase-D family is undoubtedly the most investigated and characterized, although other important toxins, such as low molecular mass insecticidal peptides, metalloproteases and hyaluronidases have also been identified and featured in literature. The molecular pathways of the action of these toxins have been reported and brought new insights in the field of biotechnology. Herein, we shall see how recent reports describing discoveries in the area of brown spider venom have expanded biotechnological uses of molecules identified in these venoms, with special emphasis on the construction of a cDNA library for venom glands, transcriptome analysis, proteomic projects, recombinant expression of different proteic toxins, and finally structural descriptions based on crystallography of toxins.
Keywords: Loxosceles; brown spider; venom; recombinant toxins; biotechnological applications Loxosceles; brown spider; venom; recombinant toxins; biotechnological applications
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Chaim, O.M.; Trevisan-Silva, D.; Chaves-Moreira, D.; Wille, A.C.M.; Ferrer, V.P.; Matsubara, F.H.; Mangili, O.C.; Silveira, R.B.; Gremski, L.H.; Gremski, W.; Senff-Ribeiro, A.; Veiga, S.S. Brown Spider (Loxosceles genus) Venom Toxins: Tools for Biological Purposes. Toxins 2011, 3, 309-344.

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