Abstract: The sesquiterpene alantolactone counteracts malignancy, an effect at least in part due to stimulation of suicidal death or apoptosis of tumor cells. Signaling of alantolactone induced apoptosis involves altered gene expression and mitochondrial depolarization. Erythrocytes lack mitochondria and nuclei but may enter suicidal death or eryptosis, which is characterized by cell shrinkage and cell membrane scrambling with phosphatidylserine exposure at the erythrocyte surface. Cellular mechanisms involved in triggering of eryptosis include increase of cytosolic Ca2+-activity ([Ca2+]i) and oxidative stress. The present study explored, whether alantolactone stimulates eryptosis. To this end, erythrocyte volume was estimated from forward scatter, phosphatidylserine-exposure at the erythrocyte surface from FITC-annexin-V-binding, [Ca2+]i from Fluo3-fluorescence, ceramide abundance from binding of fluorescent antibodies, and oxidative stress from 2',7'-dichlorodihydrofluorescein-diacetate (DCFDA) fluorescence. As a result, a 48 h exposure of human erythrocytes to alantolactone (≥20 μM) significantly decreased erythrocyte forward scatter and increased the percentage of annexin-V-binding cells. Alantolactone significantly increased Fluo3 fluorescence (60 μM), ceramide abundance (60 μM) and DCFDA fluorescence (≥40 μM). The effect of alantolactone (60 μM) on annexin-V-binding was not significantly modified by removal of extracellular Ca2+. In conclusion, alantolactone stimulates suicidal erythrocyte death or eryptosis, an effect paralleled by increase of [Ca2+]i, ceramide abundance and oxidative stress.
Abstract: Research into snake venoms has revealed extensive variation at all taxonomic levels. Lizard venoms, however, have received scant research attention in general, and no studies of intraclade variation in lizard venom composition have been attempted to date. Despite their iconic status and proven usefulness in drug design and discovery, highly venomous helodermatid lizards (gila monsters and beaded lizards) have remained neglected by toxinological research. Proteomic comparisons of venoms of three helodermatid lizards in this study has unravelled an unusual similarity in venom-composition, despite the long evolutionary time (~30 million years) separating H. suspectum from the other two species included in this study (H. exasperatum and H. horridum). Moreover, several genes encoding the major helodermatid toxins appeared to be extremely well-conserved under the influence of negative selection (but with these results regarded as preliminary due to the scarcity of available sequences). While the feeding ecologies of all species of helodermatid lizard are broadly similar, there are significant morphological differences between species, which impact upon relative niche occupation.
Abstract: Cyanobacteria are recognized producers of toxic or otherwise bioactive metabolite associated, in particular, with so-called “harmful algal blooms” (HABs) and eutrophication of freshwater systems. In the present study, two apparently teratogenic indole alkaloids from a freshwater strain of the widespread cyanobacterial genus, Fischerella (Stigonemataceae), were isolated by bioassay-guided fractionation, specifically using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryo, as a model of vertebrate development. The two alkaloids include the previously known 12-epi-hapalindole H isonitrile (1), and a new nitrile-containing variant, 12-epi-ambiguine B nitrile (2). Although both compounds were toxic to developing embryos, the former compound was shown to be relatively more potent, and to correlate best with the observed embryo toxicity. Related indole alkaloids from Fischerella, and other genera in the Stigonemataceae, have been widely reported as antimicrobial compounds, specifically in association with apparent allelopathy. However, this is the first report of their vertebrate toxicity, and the observed teratogenicity of these alkaloids supports a possible contribution to the toxicity of this widespread cyanobacterial family, particularly in relation to freshwater HABs and eutrophication.
Abstract: Staphylococcal enterotoxins(SEs) are powerful superantigenic toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). They can cause food poisoning and toxic shock. However, their impact on bovine mammary epithelial cells (bMECs) is still unknown. In this study,the distribution of SE genes was evaluated in 116 S. aureus isolates from bovine mastitis, and the most prevalent genes were seh (36.2%), followed by sei (12.1%), seg (11.2%), ser (4.3%), sec (3.4%), sea (2.6%) and sed (1.7%). To better understand the effect of staphylococcal enterotoxin H (SEH) on bMECs, the seh gene was cloned and inserted into the prokaryotic expression vector, pET28a, and transformed into Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3). The recombinant staphylococcal enterotoxin H (rSEH) was expressed and purified as soluble protein. Bioactivity analysis showed that rSEH possessed the activity of stimulating lymphocytes proliferation. The XTT assay showed that 100 μg/mL of rSEH produced the cytotoxic effect on bMECs, and fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry analysis revealed that a certain dose of rSEH is effective at inducing bMECs apoptosis in vitro. This indicates that SEs can directly lead to cellular apoptosis of bMECs in bovine mastitis associated with S. aureus.
Abstract: Venomics research is being revolutionized by the increased use of sensitive -omics techniques to identify venom toxins and their transcripts in both well studied and neglected venomous taxa. The study of neglected venomous taxa is necessary both for understanding the full diversity of venom systems that have evolved in the animal kingdom, and to robustly answer fundamental questions about the biology and evolution of venoms without the distorting effect that can result from the current bias introduced by some heavily studied taxa. In this review we draw the outlines of a roadmap into the diversity of poorly studied and understood venomous and putatively venomous invertebrates, which together represent tens of thousands of unique venoms. The main groups we discuss are crustaceans, flies, centipedes, non-spider and non-scorpion arachnids, annelids, molluscs, platyhelminths, nemerteans, and echinoderms. We review what is known about the morphology of the venom systems in these groups, the composition of their venoms, and the bioactivities of the venoms to provide researchers with an entry into a large and scattered literature. We conclude with a short discussion of some important methodological aspects that have come to light with the recent use of new -omics techniques in the study of venoms.
Abstract: The genes encoding group IIE phospholipase A2, abbreviated as IIE PLA2, and its 5' and 3' flanking regions of Crotalinae snakes such as Protobothrops flavoviridis, P. tokarensis, P. elegans, and Ovophis okinavensis, were found and sequenced. The genes consisted of four exons and three introns and coded for 22 or 24 amino acid residues of the signal peptides and 134 amino acid residues of the mature proteins. These IIE PLA2s show high similarity to those from mammals and Colubridae snakes. The high expression level of IIE PLA2s in Crotalinae venom glands suggests that they should work as venomous proteins. The blast analysis indicated that the gene encoding OTUD3, which is ovarian tumor domain-containing protein 3, is located in the 3' downstream of IIE PLA2 gene. Moreover, a group IIA PLA2 gene was found in the 5' upstream of IIE PLA2 gene linked to the OTUD3 gene (OTUD3) in the P. flavoviridis genome. It became evident that the specified arrangement of IIA PLA2 gene, IIE PLA2 gene, and OTUD3 in this order is common in the genomes of humans to snakes. The present finding that the genes encoding various secretory PLA2s form a cluster in the genomes of humans to birds is closely related to the previous finding that six venom PLA2 isozyme genes are densely clustered in the so-called NIS-1 fragment of the P. flavoviridis genome. It is also suggested that venom IIA PLA2 genes may be evolutionarily derived from the IIE PLA2 gene.