Toxins2016, 8(2), 43; doi:10.3390/toxins8020043 (registering DOI) - published 12 February 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The piercing-sucking mouthparts of the true bugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Heteroptera) have allowed diversification from a plant-feeding ancestor into a wide range of trophic strategies that include predation and blood-feeding. Crucial to the success of each of these strategies is the injection of venom. Here we review the current state of knowledge with regard to heteropteran venoms. Predaceous species produce venoms that induce rapid paralysis and liquefaction. These venoms are powerfully insecticidal, and may cause paralysis or death when injected into vertebrates. Disulfide-rich peptides, bioactive phospholipids, small molecules such as N,N-dimethylaniline and 1,2,5-trithiepane, and toxic enzymes such as phospholipase A2, have been reported in predatory venoms. However, the detailed composition and molecular targets of predatory venoms are largely unknown. In contrast, recent research into blood-feeding heteropterans has revealed the structure and function of many protein and non-protein components that facilitate acquisition of blood meals. Blood-feeding venoms lack paralytic or liquefying activity but instead are cocktails of pharmacological modulators that disable the host haemostatic systems simultaneously at multiple points. The multiple ways venom is used by heteropterans suggests that further study will reveal heteropteran venom components with a wide range of bioactivities that may be recruited for use as bioinsecticides, human therapeutics, and pharmacological tools.
Abstract: With the goal of promoting the development of early career investigators in the field of toxinology, Toxins welcomed applications for the 2016 Toxins Travel Awards for post-doctoral fellows and Ph.D. students. [...]
Abstract: Deoxynivalenol (DON), which is a toxic secondary metabolite generated by Fusarium species, is synthesized through two separate acetylation pathways. Both acetylation derivatives, 3-acetyl-DON (3ADON) and 15-acetyl-DON (15ADON), also contaminate grain and corn widely. These derivatives are deacetylated via a variety of processes after ingestion, so it has been suggested that they have the same toxicity as DON. However, in the intestinal entry region such as the duodenum, the derivatives might come into contact with intestinal epithelium cells because metabolism by microflora or import into the body has not progressed. Therefore, the differences of toxicity between DON and these derivatives need to be investigated. Here, we observed gene expression changes in the yeast pdr5Δ mutant strain under concentration-dependent mycotoxin exposure conditions. 15ADON exposure induced significant gene expression changes and DON exposure generally had a similar but smaller effect. However, the glucose transporter genes HXT2 and HXT4 showed converse trends. 3ADON also induced a different expression trend in these genes than DON and 15ADON. These differences in gene expression suggest that DON and its derivatives have different effects on cells.
Abstract: A novel conotoxin, named as PiVIIA, was isolated from the venom of Conus princeps, a marine predatory cone snail collected in the Pacific Southern Coast of Mexico. Chymotryptic digest of the S-alkylated peptide in combination with liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry, were used to define the sequencing of this peptide. Eleven N-terminal amino acids were verified by automated Edman degradation. PiVIIA is a 25-mer peptide (CDAOTHYCTNYWγCCSGYCγHSHCW) with six cysteine residues forming three disulphide bonds, a hydroxyproline (O) and two gamma carboxyglutamic acid (γ) residues. Based on the arrangement of six Cys residues (C-C-CC-C-C), this conotoxin might belong to the O2-superfamily. Moreover, PiVIIA has a conserved motif (-γCCS-) that characterizes γ-conotoxins from molluscivorous Conus. Peptide PiVIIA has 45% sequence identity with γ-PnVIIA—the prototype of this family. Biological activity of PiVIIA was assessed by voltage-clamp recording in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons. Perfusion of PiVIIA in the µM range produces a significant increase in the Ca2+ currents, without significantly modifying the Na+, K+ or proton-gated acid sensing ionic currents. These results indicate that PiVIIA is a new conotoxin whose activity deserves further studies to define its potential use as a positive modulator of neuronal activity.
Abstract: Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men and women and a leading cause of death worldwide resulting in more than one million deaths per year. The venom of marine snails Conus contains up to 200 pharmacologically active compounds that target several receptors in the cell membrane. Due to their diversity and specific binding properties, Conus toxins hold great potential as source of new drugs against cancer. We analyzed the cytotoxic effect of a 17-amino acid synthetic peptide (s-cal14.1a) that is based on a native toxin (cal14.1a) isolated from the sea snail Conus californicus. Cytotoxicity studies in four lung cancer cell lines were complemented with measurement of gene expression of apoptosis-related proteins Bcl-2, BAX and the pro-survival proteins NFκB-1 and COX-2, as well as quantification of caspase activity. Our results showed that H1299 and H1437 cell lines treated with s-call4.1a had decreased cell viability, activated caspases, and reduced expression of the pro-survival protein NFκB-1. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing activation of apoptosis in human lung cancer cell lines by s-cal14.1a and we offer insight into the possible mechanism of action.
Abstract: Ochratoxins, and particularly ochratoxin A (OTA), are toxic fungal-derived contaminants of food and other agricultural products. Growing evidence supports the degradation of OTA by chemical, enzymatic and/or microbial means as a potential approach to remove this mycotoxin from food products. In particular, hydrolysis of OTA to ochratoxin α (OTα) and phenylalanine is the presumptive product of degradation in most cases. In the current study, we employed the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo, as a model of vertebrate development to evaluate, the teratogenicity of OTA and OTα. These studies show that OTA is potently active in the zebrafish embryo toxicity assay (ZETA), and that toxicity is both concentration- and time-dependent with discernible and quantifiable developmental toxicity observed at nanomolar concentrations. On the other hand, OTα had no significant effect on embryo development at all concentrations tested supporting a decreased toxicity of this degradation product. Taken together, these results suggest that ZETA is a useful, and highly sensitive, tool for evaluating OTA toxicity, as well as its degradation products, toward development of effective detoxification strategies. Specifically, the results obtained with ZETA, in the present study, further demonstrate the toxicity of OTA, and support its degradation via hydrolysis to OTα as an effective means of detoxification.