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Special Issue "Animal Venoms and Pain"

A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Venoms".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Stuart M. Brierley

Visceral Pain Research Group, Human Physiology, School of Medicine, Flinders University. Level 7, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
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Associate Editor
Dr. Irina Vetter

School of Pharmacy, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Whether by an ant bite, scorpion sting, envenomation by a spitting cobra, or a brush with a sea anemone—animal venoms are well recognised for their devastating effects on sensory neurons. These effects cause incapacitating pain for the victim and enable a quick retreat for the perpetrator.

However, apart from the apparent survival advantage that inflicting pain on predators conveys, venoms have also evolved many components that, by virtue of their exquisite potency and specificity for key signalling molecules in the mammalian nervous system, exert potent analgesic effects.

This Special Issue of Toxins will cover recent developments relating to animal venoms and pain, including perspectives on the evolution, mechanism of action and structure-function of pro-algesic and analgesic venom components.

The individual articles will review

  • The evolutionary processes shaping development of toxins targeting pain pathways
  • Pharmacology of venom peptides targeting pain pathways, including toxins targeting transient receptor potential channels, G-protein coupled receptors and voltage-gated ion channels involved in pain.
  • Insights into structure-activity of toxins acting at pain targets
  • Snake venom components targeting peripheral sensory neurons
  • Therapeutic applications of venoms for treatment of pain

Assoc. Prof. Stuart M. Brierley
Dr. Irina Vetter
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxins is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Pain
  • Transient receptor potential channels
  • G-protein coupled receptors
  • Voltage-gated ion channels
  • Neurons
  • Toxins
  • Venoms

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Spider Neurotoxins, Short Linear Cationic Peptides and Venom Protein Classification Improved by an Automated Competition between Exhaustive Profile HMM Classifiers
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 245; doi:10.3390/toxins9080245
Received: 13 July 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 8 August 2017
PDF Full-text (2073 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Spider venoms are rich cocktails of bioactive peptides, proteins, and enzymes that are being intensively investigated over the years. In order to provide a better comprehension of that richness, we propose a three-level family classification system for spider venom components. This classification is
[...] Read more.
Spider venoms are rich cocktails of bioactive peptides, proteins, and enzymes that are being intensively investigated over the years. In order to provide a better comprehension of that richness, we propose a three-level family classification system for spider venom components. This classification is supported by an exhaustive set of 219 new profile hidden Markov models (HMMs) able to attribute a given peptide to its precise peptide type, family, and group. The proposed classification has the advantages of being totally independent from variable spider taxonomic names and can easily evolve. In addition to the new classifiers, we introduce and demonstrate the efficiency of hmmcompete, a new standalone tool that monitors HMM-based family classification and, after post-processing the result, reports the best classifier when multiple models produce significant scores towards given peptide queries. The combined used of hmmcompete and the new spider venom component-specific classifiers demonstrated 96% sensitivity to properly classify all known spider toxins from the UniProtKB database. These tools are timely regarding the important classification needs caused by the increasing number of peptides and proteins generated by transcriptomic projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Pain)
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Open AccessArticle How the Cobra Got Its Flesh-Eating Venom: Cytotoxicity as a Defensive Innovation and Its Co-Evolution with Hooding, Aposematic Marking, and Spitting
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 103; doi:10.3390/toxins9030103
Received: 23 January 2017 / Revised: 19 February 2017 / Accepted: 5 March 2017 / Published: 13 March 2017
PDF Full-text (13619 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The cytotoxicity of the venom of 25 species of Old World elapid snake was tested and compared with the morphological and behavioural adaptations of hooding and spitting. We determined that, contrary to previous assumptions, the venoms of spitting species are not consistently more
[...] Read more.
The cytotoxicity of the venom of 25 species of Old World elapid snake was tested and compared with the morphological and behavioural adaptations of hooding and spitting. We determined that, contrary to previous assumptions, the venoms of spitting species are not consistently more cytotoxic than those of closely related non-spitting species. While this correlation between spitting and non-spitting was found among African cobras, it was not present among Asian cobras. On the other hand, a consistent positive correlation was observed between cytotoxicity and utilisation of the defensive hooding display that cobras are famous for. Hooding and spitting are widely regarded as defensive adaptations, but it has hitherto been uncertain whether cytotoxicity serves a defensive purpose or is somehow useful in prey subjugation. The results of this study suggest that cytotoxicity evolved primarily as a defensive innovation and that it has co-evolved twice alongside hooding behavior: once in the Hemachatus + Naja and again independently in the king cobras (Ophiophagus). There was a significant increase of cytotoxicity in the Asian Naja linked to the evolution of bold aposematic hood markings, reinforcing the link between hooding and the evolution of defensive cytotoxic venoms. In parallel, lineages with increased cytotoxicity but lacking bold hood patterns evolved aposematic markers in the form of high contrast body banding. The results also indicate that, secondary to the evolution of venom rich in cytotoxins, spitting has evolved three times independently: once within the African Naja, once within the Asian Naja, and once in the Hemachatus genus. The evolution of cytotoxic venom thus appears to facilitate the evolution of defensive spitting behaviour. In contrast, a secondary loss of cytotoxicity and reduction of the hood occurred in the water cobra Naja annulata, which possesses streamlined neurotoxic venom similar to that of other aquatic elapid snakes (e.g., hydrophiine sea snakes). The results of this study make an important contribution to our growing understanding of the selection pressures shaping the evolution of snake venom and its constituent toxins. The data also aid in elucidating the relationship between these selection pressures and the medical impact of human snakebite in the developing world, as cytotoxic cobras cause considerable morbidity including loss-of-function injuries that result in economic and social burdens in the tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Pain)
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Open AccessArticle Bee Venom Phospholipase A2 Ameliorates House Dust Mite Extract Induced Atopic Dermatitis Like Skin Lesions in Mice
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 68; doi:10.3390/toxins9020068
Received: 3 January 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 16 February 2017 / Published: 18 February 2017
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Abstract
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a biphasic inflammatory skin disease that is provoked by epidermal barrier defects, immune dysregulation, and increased skin infections. Previously, we have demonstrated that bvPLA2 evoked immune tolerance by inducing regulatory T cells (Treg), and thus alleviated Th2 dominant allergic
[...] Read more.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a biphasic inflammatory skin disease that is provoked by epidermal barrier defects, immune dysregulation, and increased skin infections. Previously, we have demonstrated that bvPLA2 evoked immune tolerance by inducing regulatory T cells (Treg), and thus alleviated Th2 dominant allergic asthma in mice. Here, we would like to determine whether treatment with bvPLA2 exacerbates the AD-like allergic inflammations induced by house dust mite extract (DFE) in a murine model. Epidermal thickness, immune cell infiltration, serum immunoglobulin, and cytokines were measured. Ear swelling, skin lesions, and the levels of total serum IgE and Th1/Th2 cytokines were elevated in DFE/DNCB-induced AD mice. Topical application of bvPLA2 elicited significant suppression of the increased AD symptoms, including ear thickness, serum IgE concentration, inflammatory cytokines, and histological changes. Furthermore, bvPLA2 treatment inhibited mast cell infiltration into the ear. On the other hand, Treg cell depletion abolished the anti-atopic effects of bvPLA2, suggesting that the effects of bvPLA2 depend on the existence of Tregs. Taken together, the results revealed that topical exposure to bvPLA2 aggravated atopic skin inflammation, suggesting that bvPLA2 might be a candidate for the treatment of AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Pain)
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