Abstract: Although snake venoms have been the subject of intense research, primarily because of their tremendous potential as a bioresource for design and development of therapeutic compounds, some specific groups of snakes, such as the genus Atractaspis, have been completely neglected. To date only limited number of toxins, such as sarafotoxins have been well characterized from this lineage. In order to investigate the molecular diversity of venom from Atractaspis aterrima—the slender burrowing asp, we utilized a high-throughput transcriptomic approach completed with an original bioinformatics analysis pipeline. Surprisingly, we found that Sarafotoxins do not constitute the major ingredient of the transcriptomic cocktail; rather a large number of previously well-characterized snake venom-components were identified. Notably, we recovered a large diversity of three-finger toxins (3FTxs), which were found to have evolved under the significant influence of positive selection. From the normalized and non-normalized transcriptome libraries, we were able to evaluate the relative abundance of the different toxin groups, uncover rare transcripts, and gain new insight into the transcriptomic machinery. In addition to previously characterized toxin families, we were able to detect numerous highly-transcribed compounds that possess all the key features of venom-components and may constitute new classes of toxins.
Keywords: venom gland; transcriptome; Atractaspis; venomous snake
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Terrat, Y.; Sunagar, K.; Fry, B.G.; Jackson, T.N.W.; Scheib, H.; Fourmy, R.; Verdenaud, M.; Blanchet, G.; Antunes, A.; Ducancel, F. Atractaspis aterrima Toxins: The First Insight into the Molecular Evolution of Venom in Side-Stabbers. Toxins 2013, 5, 1948-1964.
Terrat Y, Sunagar K, Fry BG, Jackson TNW, Scheib H, Fourmy R, Verdenaud M, Blanchet G, Antunes A, Ducancel F. Atractaspis aterrima Toxins: The First Insight into the Molecular Evolution of Venom in Side-Stabbers. Toxins. 2013; 5(11):1948-1964.
Terrat, Yves; Sunagar, Kartik; Fry, Bryan G.; Jackson, Timothy N.W.; Scheib, Holger; Fourmy, Rudy; Verdenaud, Marion; Blanchet, Guillaume; Antunes, Agostinho; Ducancel, Frederic. 2013. "Atractaspis aterrima Toxins: The First Insight into the Molecular Evolution of Venom in Side-Stabbers." Toxins 5, no. 11: 1948-1964.