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Open AccessArticle

The Peptide Venom Composition of the Fierce Stinging Ant Tetraponera aethiops (Formicidae: Pseudomyrmecinae)

1
EA-7417, Institut National Universitaire Champollion, Place de Verdun, 81012 Albi, France
2
Laboratory of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Douala, P.O. Box 24157, Douala, Cameroon
3
Unité de Mathématique et Informatique Appliquées de Toulouse, Genotoul Bioinfo, UR0875, INRA Toulouse, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan, France
4
Ecolab, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, INPT, UPS, 31400 Toulouse, France
5
CNRS, UMR EcoFoG, AgroParisTech, Cirad, INRA, Université des Antilles, Université de Guyane, 97310 Kourou, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Toxins 2019, 11(12), 732; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins11120732
Received: 24 October 2019 / Revised: 6 December 2019 / Accepted: 11 December 2019 / Published: 14 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Venom Proteomics and Transcriptomics)
In the mutualisms involving certain pseudomyrmicine ants and different myrmecophytes (i.e., plants sheltering colonies of specialized “plant-ant” species in hollow structures), the ant venom contributes to the host plant biotic defenses by inducing the rapid paralysis of defoliating insects and causing intense pain to browsing mammals. Using integrated transcriptomic and proteomic approaches, we identified the venom peptidome of the plant-ant Tetraponera aethiops (Pseudomyrmecinae). The transcriptomic analysis of its venom glands revealed that 40% of the expressed contigs encoded only seven peptide precursors related to the ant venom peptides from the A-superfamily. Among the 12 peptide masses detected by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC–MS), nine mature peptide sequences were characterized and confirmed through proteomic analysis. These venom peptides, called pseudomyrmecitoxins (PSDTX), share amino acid sequence identities with myrmeciitoxins known for their dual offensive and defensive functions on both insects and mammals. Furthermore, we demonstrated through reduction/alkylation of the crude venom that four PSDTXs were homo- and heterodimeric. Thus, we provide the first insights into the defensive venom composition of the ant genus Tetraponera indicative of a streamlined peptidome. View Full-Text
Keywords: defensive venom; dimeric peptides; peptidome; Tetraponera aethiops defensive venom; dimeric peptides; peptidome; Tetraponera aethiops
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MDPI and ACS Style

Barassé, V.; Touchard, A.; Téné, N.; Tindo, M.; Kenne, M.; Klopp, C.; Dejean, A.; Bonnafé, E.; Treilhou, M. The Peptide Venom Composition of the Fierce Stinging Ant Tetraponera aethiops (Formicidae: Pseudomyrmecinae). Toxins 2019, 11, 732.

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