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Sea Anemone (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Actiniaria) Toxins: An Overview

CIMAR/CIIMAR, Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, Universidade do Porto, Rua dos Bragas 177, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal
Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mar. Drugs 2012, 10(8), 1812-1851;
Received: 31 May 2012 / Revised: 9 July 2012 / Accepted: 25 July 2012 / Published: 22 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sea Anemone Toxins)
The Cnidaria phylum includes organisms that are among the most venomous animals. The Anthozoa class includes sea anemones, hard corals, soft corals and sea pens. The composition of cnidarian venoms is not known in detail, but they appear to contain a variety of compounds. Currently around 250 of those compounds have been identified (peptides, proteins, enzymes and proteinase inhibitors) and non-proteinaceous substances (purines, quaternary ammonium compounds, biogenic amines and betaines), but very few genes encoding toxins were described and only a few related protein three-dimensional structures are available. Toxins are used for prey acquisition, but also to deter potential predators (with neurotoxicity and cardiotoxicity effects) and even to fight territorial disputes. Cnidaria toxins have been identified on the nematocysts located on the tentacles, acrorhagi and acontia, and in the mucous coat that covers the animal body. Sea anemone toxins comprise mainly proteins and peptides that are cytolytic or neurotoxic with its potency varying with the structure and site of action and are efficient in targeting different animals, such as insects, crustaceans and vertebrates. Sea anemones toxins include voltage-gated Na+ and K+ channels toxins, acid-sensing ion channel toxins, Cytolysins, toxins with Kunitz-type protease inhibitors activity and toxins with Phospholipase A2 activity. In this review we assessed the phylogentic relationships of sea anemone toxins, characterized such toxins, the genes encoding them and the toxins three-dimensional structures, further providing a state-of-the-art description of the procedures involved in the isolation and purification of bioactive toxins. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cnidaria; sea anemone; phylogeny; toxin; toxin gene Cnidaria; sea anemone; phylogeny; toxin; toxin gene
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Frazão, B.; Vasconcelos, V.; Antunes, A. Sea Anemone (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Actiniaria) Toxins: An Overview. Mar. Drugs 2012, 10, 1812-1851.

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