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Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era
AbstractThe monotremes (platypuses and echidnas) represent one of only four extant venomous mammalian lineages. Until recently, monotreme venom was poorly understood. However, the availability of the platypus genome and increasingly sophisticated genomic tools has allowed us to characterize platypus toxins, and provides a means of reconstructing the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. Here we review the physiology of platypus and echidna crural (venom) systems as well as pharmacological and genomic studies of monotreme toxins. Further, we synthesize current ideas about the evolution of the venom system, which in the platypus is likely to have been retained from a venomous ancestor, whilst being lost in the echidnas. We also outline several research directions and outstanding questions that would be productive to address in future research. An improved characterization of mammalian venoms will not only yield new toxins with potential therapeutic uses, but will also aid in our understanding of the way that this unusual trait evolves.
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Whittington, C.M.; Belov, K. Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era. Toxins 2014, 6, 1260-1273.View more citation formats
Whittington CM, Belov K. Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era. Toxins. 2014; 6(4):1260-1273.Chicago/Turabian Style
Whittington, Camilla M.; Belov, Katherine. 2014. "Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era." Toxins 6, no. 4: 1260-1273.