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Toxins 2014, 6(4), 1260-1273;

Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era

School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 January 2014 / Revised: 17 March 2014 / Accepted: 27 March 2014 / Published: 2 April 2014
(This article belongs to the Collection Evolution of Venom Systems)
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The monotremes (platypuses and echidnas) represent one of only four extant venomous mammalian lineages. Until recently, monotreme venom was poorly understood. However, the availability of the platypus genome and increasingly sophisticated genomic tools has allowed us to characterize platypus toxins, and provides a means of reconstructing the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. Here we review the physiology of platypus and echidna crural (venom) systems as well as pharmacological and genomic studies of monotreme toxins. Further, we synthesize current ideas about the evolution of the venom system, which in the platypus is likely to have been retained from a venomous ancestor, whilst being lost in the echidnas. We also outline several research directions and outstanding questions that would be productive to address in future research. An improved characterization of mammalian venoms will not only yield new toxins with potential therapeutic uses, but will also aid in our understanding of the way that this unusual trait evolves. View Full-Text
Keywords: crural system; echidna; genome; platypus; toxin; transcriptomics crural system; echidna; genome; platypus; toxin; transcriptomics

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Whittington, C.M.; Belov, K. Tracing Monotreme Venom Evolution in the Genomics Era. Toxins 2014, 6, 1260-1273.

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